The Namesake Jhumpa Lahiri

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When a name is chosen for someone, the name becomes their personality, appearance and identity. In the book, the namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri, she compares Gogol’s struggle with growing up in two different cultures, American and Indian. In the American culture, Gogol is able to change his name and be anyone he wants to be. On the other hand, the culture of his parents and them giving him that name, is anything but free. The name was chosen in order to respect and honor their homeland. The author teaches us that life is what you make of it; the past shapes you into who you are, and you decide the future. Although Gogol tries to stray far away from his culture and name, he learns that he could never fully reinvent himself because he will always…show more content…
Gogol’s relationship with Maxine is a way of showing his discomfort in being Bengali. He wants to be a part of this family’s life style because they are affluent and he feels he has become a new addition to the Ratliffs’ world. Maxine 's family took Gogol under their wing, letting him eat, live, and vacation with the family. It becomes apparent that Gogol is a part of the family when Lahiri says “He often helps to shop and prepare for Gerald and Lydia’s dinner parties” (Lahiri, 40). He also shows his disconnect with his family when he says “Gerald and Lydia are secure in a way his parents will never be” (Lahiri, 141). Gogol has never experienced a family who is so welcoming. Multiple times during Maxine and Gogol’s relationship, Gogol tries to reinvent himself. When Gogol introduced Maxine to his family, his mother explains to Gogol that she is not right for him because she is not from the same culture as him and that he and Maxine won’t be together for a long time. These words is what makes Gogol distance himself from his family. He becomes more dependent on Maxine’s family because she introduces Gogol to her family, and the parents accept him for who he wants to be. We see the culture barriers between Bengali and America. Because Maxine’s family is welcoming and fond of Gogol, he feels that he belongs with her family. During the trip in New Hampshire with Maxine 's family, his family tries…show more content…
In conclusion, a name is very important for someone because it defines oneself and from where you come from. At the end of the novel, Gogol comes to terms with himself being Indian-American, having the name Gogol and being a part of the Bengali culture. He doesn’t try to ignore the Bengali culture because he did marry a women from Bengali, but eventually divorced her. I think that the author is trying to tell us that finding one 's identity is an ongoing process; that one could never fully reinvent themselves because a person’s identity comes from what is inside of you and the people and society you are surrounded by. “The man who gave you his name, from the man who gave you your name.” (Lahiri, 288). Gogol has made a full circle at the end of the book. Opening and reading the book his father gave to him many years ago symbolizes that he has accepted his true self. He realizes that he does appreciate the name that was given to him because his father overcame something tragic from the help of the book, and his name Gogol was “the first thing his father had given him” (Lahiri,
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