The Namesake - Summary and Analysis of the Novel

Published: 2022-03-28 04:46:49
The Namesake - Summary and Analysis of the Novel
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories: American literature
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 860 words
8 min read

Summary of the Narrative

A Bengali woman moves into Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1968 with her new husband. Ashima Ganguli is nearly giving birth, and she has her first contractions in the kitchen, then she is accompanied by her husband in a taxi (Lahiri 10). There are many themes introduced in the first chapter, including immigration, re-birth, and many styles which have been presented and have shaped the narrative. Literary devices such as themes and writing styles have been used to direct the overall flow of the story.

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The Theme of Name and Identity

This theme is introduced at the start of the first chapter. Ashima does not use Ashoke's name when she calls him from the bathroom (Lahiri 9). It was not the type of thing done by Bengali wives because the names of the husbands were regarded very intimate to be used. In the second chapter, there is an explanation of the pet names' traditions; the ways pets are named. There is an explanation of the use of bhalonam and the daknam which stands for good names. Close family members only use the pet names at their private areas or homes. The "good" names are only used at work, which is a formal environment (Lahiri 32). Ashoke and Ashima are required to provide their son with a pet name. The parents are waiting for a "good name" to be provided by Ashima's grandmother. However, the pet name, which was to be provided by a letter from Calcutta, never arrived. The name "Gogol" is largely significant for a variety of reasons. Gogol is a "good name," a "pet name." This pet name relates to the favorite writer of his father and the tradition represented by Nikola Gogol in Russia (Lahiri 32). The name also served to represent the train accident which almost led to the demise of Ashoke (Lahiri 52). Gogol was a name that reminded of both aspiration and desire for outside Calcutta. Namesake, the title of the book, is symbolic of the name given to the child, Nikolai Gogol (Lahiri 20). It is also indicative that her grandmother would not give the child any other name.

Theme of Alienation

Ashima is a stranger in a foreign land. All through her difficult pregnancy, Ashima feared to raise a child in a country where she did not have any relations, and she did not know much information about. Ashima regarded the United States of America as where life was so spare and tentative (Lahiri 8). Gogol, Ashima's son, would feel at home in America compared to her who did not fit in well with the society. After the birth of Gogol, Ashima regrets that her close families did not surround her. This explains the statement of the author that the birth of Gogol, which was same to everyone else in America, was only half right. Upon arrival at home from the hospital, Ashima informs her husband that she did not intend to raise Gogol alone in America, that she wanted to return to India. Ashima feels that she did not know how to parent his son Gogol without the assistance of her family. Ashima's main conversation medium with her family is through letters (Lahiri 42). Regardless of the fact that parenting, in the Bengali culture, is meant for mothers only, Ashoke provides as much support as he can in the upbringing of the child. Notably, Ashima and Ashoke turn to other families embracing Bengali culture in their neighborhood. This leads to the creation of a blood relations network and powerful connections between persons bound by linguistic, religious and geographic links to Calcutta.

Cultural and Language Barrier

When Ashoke and Ashima arrive for the birth of Gogol, they are faced with the challenge of a language barrier. Ashima, after being given a bed, looks for Ashoke, who states that "he would be back," in the Bengali language. None of the doctors or nurse spoke or understand the Bengali language. The curtain around Ashima's hospital bed represented the barrier established by using the Bengali language in the United States of America (Lahiri 10). Cultural differences exist in the hospital where Ashoke sits waiting for Ashima's delivery. The American husbands concede that they are very romantic to their wives, loving and comforting them with intimate words. This was something which Ashoke and Ashima could not do because that was not how they were. Also, food is used to express the cultural differences in the narrative. Ashima only cooks for the reinterpretation of Bengali cuisine in Cambridge and to make America's special events (Lahiri 12). Food serves as a unification element in the celebrations and parties which are hosted by the Boston's greater Bengali communities (Lahiri 17). In keeping with the customs of Bengali, Ashima manages the home and even cooks for Ashoke (Lahiri 16). Regardless of the traditional nature of their marriage, Ashima is not controlled by Ashoke. The skills and responsibilities of Ashima are complementary to those of Ashoke. The marriage union between Ashoke and Ashima was arranged, and she did not go to the United States of America by choice.

Works Cited

Lahiri, Jhumpa. Namesake, the. Random House, 2003.

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