The Role Of Culture In Namesake By Jhumpa Lahiri

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Have you ever felt culturally confused, divided, or lost? Culture is an important factor in every person’s life. Besides being socially and economically important, culture can raise the quality of one’s life and boost someone’s overall well-being. The feeling of being culturally split is one of the main themes addressed in the book Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. The main character in this book, Gogol, is constantly struggling to carve out his own life while juggling both his strict Bengali culture and independent American culture. In the Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, Gogol’s quest for self was at first impacted by his desire to blend in with American culture, however, when his father dies he begins to grow closer with his family and his journey is turned on a path influenced by both his families (Bengali) culture and his own culture (American). From the moment Gogol is introduced to the reader, he rejects Bengali culture. In chapter two, Gogol is put through a Bengali ritual to see what his future will be. He is offered a dollar (businessman), a pen (scholar), and dirt (landowner). However, instead of selecting one of these items Gogol cries and doesn’t make a selection. “Gogol frowns, and his lower lip trembles. Only then, forced at six months to confront his destiny, does he begin to cry.” (Lahiri 40). This sets a precedent for almost all of Gogol’s actions up until his father’s death. One main point of contention that is seen throughout the novel is Gogol’s hatred for his name.

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