The Struggle For Identity In Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake

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In the novel ‘The Namesake’ Lahiri has shown how every character struggles with their identity and how this is due to the pull of different cultures, traditions and dreams. However, Gogol in particular feels the pull of these demands more than any other character within the novel and Lahiri evidently shows this by his perpetual struggle between his two cultures - Indian and American.

Gogol struggles incessantly throughout the novel to find his identity while attempting to mould to his family’s expectations and the expectations of the American society around him.

One of the first instances in which Lahiri explores Gogol’s quest for identity is when he is only six months old at the rice ceremony. “Gogol frowns, and his lower lip trembles”. This quotation shows how even at such a young age, Gogol was already refusing to participate in such traditional Indian rituals, furthermore showing how Gogol’s identity crisis has been embedded within him from such a young age. “Only then, forced at six months to
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By vividly depicting Gogol’s name in such a way, Lahiri reveals how symbolic the name is by conveying the tangible power an intangible object has over Gogol. It implies that Gogol feels trapped by his name and that this word, which he detests so strongly, appears in every aspect of his life as shown by the quotes “He even hates signing his name at the bottom of his drawings in art class” and “He hates signing his name on the brown paper sleeve of the national geographic subscription”. These examples show the extent to which his name is incorporated in many other aspects of his life and are a way in which Lahiri portrays the name as continuously
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