Jhumpa Lahiri Identity

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Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake centers on Gogol’s struggle to navigate and settle into his bicultural identity and he does so in various ways, most significantly through his relationship with Maxine, through which he seeks to confirm his American identity, though he is ultimately driven to accept his Indian American identity, and his relationship with Moushumi, through which he reaffirms his hyphenated Indian-American identity.
Gogol’s interracial relationship with Maxine is initially attractive to him for its ability to take him outside of his Indian American cultural identity and tradition. This is evident because he is constantly comparing Maxine’s family to his own, particularly at the beginning of their relationship. For example, when he first has dinner with Maxine’ parents, he thinks to himself that Ashima “would never have served so few dishes” (133) and that their
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This occurs when Maxine becomes impatient with Gogol and the way he copes with his father’s death, which is evident when “she had not understood being excluded from the family’s plans to travel to Calcutta to… Scatter Ashoke’s ashes” (188) and in her admission of jealously of Ashima and Sonia for all the time Gogol was spending with them (188). Most significantly, when given the chance to separate himself from his family, once again, when Maxine suggests going on a trip to “get away from all of this” (182), “this”, meaning his family and the Indian tradition of grief, after which he feels more connected to his family and culture, he chooses to remain with his family and, thus, embraces his bicultural Indian American identity, saying, “I don’t want to get away”

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