Themes In The Namesake By Jhumpa Lahiri

1042 Words5 Pages
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…show more content…
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. Before leaving to go to college, Gogol decides that he wants his name to be changed to Nikhil. This is another example of Gogol’s independence and rebelliousness. Finally, this can be seen Gogol trying to distance himself from Bengali culture during his relationship with Maxine. Maxine’s whole way of life is sort of an exaggerated yet truthful portrayal of the typical American lifestyle. Gogol is drawn to Maxine because her family is the polar opposite of the traditional Bengali culture. “The family seems to possess every piece of the landscape, not only the house itself but every tree and blade of grass. Nothing is locked, not the main house, or the cabin that he and Maxine sleep in. Anyone could walk in. He thinks of the alarm system that now is installed in his parents’ house, wonders why they cannot relax about their physical surroundings in the same way. The Ratliffs own the moon that floats over the lake, and the sun and the clouds. It is a place that has been good to them, as much a part of them as a member of the family. The idea of returning year after year to a single place appeals to Gogol deeply.” (Lahiri 154/155). From this quote one can see that Gogol envies the Ratliffs way of life. He embraces the carefree, independent lifestyle as it reflects the very nature of the American spirit; while rejecting the strict,
Open Document