Analysis Of The Namesake By Jhumpa Lahiri

1766 words - 8 pages

Over the course of the novel, The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri, Gogol is constantly moving, and by the time he is in his late twenties, he has already lived in five different homes, while his mother, Ashima has lived in only five houses her entire life. Each time Gogol moves, he travels farther away from his childhood home on Pemberton Road, symbolizing his search for identity and his desire to further himself from his family and Bengali culture. Alternatively, Ashima’s change of homes happens in order to become closer to family, representing her kinship with Bengali culture. Ashima has always had difficulty with doing things on her own, but by the end of the story she ultimately decides to ...view middle of the document...

He didn’t want to attend his father’s alma mater, and live in an apartment in Central Square as his parents once had, and revisit the streets about which his parents speak nostalgically” (126). Gogol refuses to return to Massachusetts because he doesn’t want to be in a city that his parents know; he’d rather be in a city where he can be fully independent and where his parents are complete strangers -- a good tactic to keep his parents away. Soon after, Lahiri says, “[Gogol] prefers New York, a place which his parents do not know well, whose beauty they are blind to” (126). This further proves that he prefers the safeness of a city foreign to his parents. Finally, around the middle of the novel, while filling in her address book, Ashima is reminded of the number of homes and apartments her children have inhabited, and compares the number of homes she’s lived in, “In her own life Ashima has lived in only five houses: her parents’ flat in Calcutta, her in-laws’ house for one month, the house they rented in Cambridge, living below the Montgomerys, the faculty apartment on campus, and, lastly, the one they own now. One hand, five homes. A lifetime in a fist” (167). The contrast of the profusion of homes between Ashima and her children is significant; Ashima has only lived in five houses her entire life, while Gogol is in his late twenties and has already lived in more than five houses. Lahiri states that Ashima’s small collection of homes is a “lifetime in a fist” (167), symbolizing Ashima’s anger and disapproval at the abundance of homes her children have occupied. Nearly every home that Ashima has lived in has something to do with family -- her parents, in-laws, and husband, and most have been full-out houses or nice apartments rather than cheap, temporary apartments. In the first few houses Ashima’s lived in, it is because of the ways of her Bengali culture; she lived with her parents in India, as close as possible to Bengali culture, and then her in-laws’ house for a month because of her husband and tradition. Earlier, Ashima states that “she has given birth to vagabonds” (167) and remembers “all the dark, hot apartments Gogol has inhabited over the years”. These are signs of Ashima’s recurring exasperation for her children’s ways of living; the word “vagabond” typically having a negative connotation. Ashima is once again comparing her past homes to Gogol’s, and how his were in less favorable conditions. Both Gogol and Ashima’s views on home are expressed through the number of homes they’ve inhabited, and where their homes are; while Gogol has lived in a large amount of homes in only half his life, Ashima has lived in only five her whole life, and whereas Gogol tends to be drawn to homes as far away from and unfamiliar to his parents, Ashima is drawn to homes that bring her closer to family. This shows that Gogol isn’t as connected to family and doesn’t quite understand the concept of “home”, while family is extremely important to Ashima and...

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