The Namesake By Jhumpa Lahiri

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The choices one makes dictates the life they lead. In her novel The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri reflects on the world of the Ganguli family. One particular character, Gogol Ganguli becomes the main focus as Lahiri takes us through his assimilation process, and how he tries to achieve the goal of being socially accepted. Lahiri illustrates the development of Gogol’s quest for his true cultural identity through his personal struggles: his name, his romantic relationships, and his father’s untimely death. Gogol Ganguli began his childhood with his “pet name,” a name called his family and close relatives, and then suddenly for the greater good of his culture is forced to adapt a new name, his “good name,” Nikhil Ganguli. In the novel The Namesake, Lahiri explains Ashoke’s and Ashima’s perspective on why Gogol should embrace his good name rather than his pet name in the real world, “his parents tell him that they each have two names, too, as do all their Bengali friends in America, and all their relatives in Calcutta. It’s a part of growing up... part of being Bengali” (57). Both Ashoke and Ashima went against the tradition in the beginning by naming their son legally by his “pet name” which is Gogol. He grows up with this identity then suddenly when he starts school he is expected to make a shift to his “good name” Nikhil. This where the start of his cultural conflict begins, at the fragile age of five he is forced to become someone he is not comfortable being, which this can

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