The Namesake Jhumpa Lahiri Essay

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Nothing reminds you of how far you are from home more than giving birth to a child in a foreign, distant land. As Jhumpa Lahiri describes in her novel, The Namesake, being a foreigner is like a life-long pregnancy, a perpetual wait, a constant burden, an ongoing responsibility, and a continuous feeling out of sorts. Throughout the novel, Lahiri accounts the story of a couple moving from India to America, as well as, the complex process of raising kids in an unknown country, without family, without friends, and without a familiar lifestyle. At the same time, she analyzes the tug-of-war nature between one’s ethnic heritage and the environment one is born into. As the novel progresses, Jhumpa Lahiri’s examination of the immigrant experience through…show more content…
Lahiri uses the train as a symbolic vehicle that represents the confusion of Gogol’s identity. His life seems to be divided between two spheres - physically, culturally, and in terms of his name. As a result, the train serves as a basic reminder of his two distinct identities: the“Gogol” at home and the “Nikhil” to the outside world. This constantly unsettled angst and confusion about his identity causes him to struggle to adopt a single embodiment or identification. Subsequently, he continuously “morphs” into different personalities, and the train successfully sheds light into this ambivalence and ambiguity. In addition, the train signifies motion, travel, and distance, expanding on the idea that the farther Gogol goes away from home, the farther he becomes from his true culture, heritage, and overall self. As a result, this connects to the overall obstacle in Gogol’s life because he is torn between “taking the train” and embodying this whole other person or sticking to his roots and becoming one with his culure.The metaphorical indication of the train can also be seen in later parts of the novel, for example, during Gogol’s quiet and gradual realization. Lahiri states, “Gogol reflects that their life has been formed by a series of accidents—first Ashoke’s train accident, inspiring
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