Book Review: The Namesake By Jhumpa Lahiri

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The Namesake, published in 2003, is Jhumpa Lahiri's first novel. The novel explores characters caught between two conflicting cultures; two worlds, India and America.This novel is based upon the author’s own experiences growing up in America as the child of Indian immigrants. Ashima and Ashoke Ganguli, the parents of protagonist Gogol Ganguli, her fictional counterpart, are based on Jhumpa Lahiri’s real parents. Gogol Ganguli is particularly torn between these two cultures. Born in America, immersed in mainstream American culture, but raised by parents who retain strong Indian traditions; in result, he struggles with his identity. As he grows up he questions who he truly is, and where he truly belongs. His past struggles all have an effect…show more content…
He quickly becomes absorbed into her lifestyle, which is also drastically different from the more modest style of living he and his parents had. Maxine is a source of appeal and envy for Gogol as she is at ease with her identity. Gogol appears to be attracted to her simply as she is different from him, and different from his family. “And then he remembers that his parents can't possibly reach him: he has not given them the number, and the Ratliffs are unlisted. That here at Maxine's side, in this cloistered wilderness, he is free.” (6.140) : Maxine and her family are an escape for Gogol, but they also represent the distance from his family. Gogol views this relationship as an escape from his past, as an escape from his old self. He is now even more distanced and alienated from his parents. The closer he becomes with Maxine, the further he distances himself from his parents, and when his fathers dies, Maxine becomes a symbol of this alienation, and Gogol is overridden with…show more content…
Moushumi, having always wanted to distance herself from her parents and her roots, now resents the fact that her marriage is the perfect example of what her parents wanted. Just as Gogol had felt a sense of belonging in his relationships with Ruth and Maxine, thanks to the new identities he thought he wanted, he finds a sense of belonging in this relationship as their backgrounds are similar; Moushumi appears to see an identity she doesn’t want in Gogol, which causes her to distance herself from him, and eventually she begins an affair with another
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