Literature: The Namesake

The Namesake tells the story of Gogol, an Indian-American attempting to come to terms with his identity as a bi-national child of Indian immigrant parents. His parents' difficulties with cultural alienation, as well as his own distance from his cultural heritage, forces him to try and understand his place in two seemingly conflicting cultural identity. Determined to distance himself from his parents, and the values they represent, he sets out to live an independent life, only to find out that his relationships and his identity are far complex than he would wish.

Contains Examples Of:

  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Averted, all the names of people and things in the novel are culturally appropriate, and chosen with great care.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Sort of. It chronicles 30 years of Gogol's life, but it is the story of him coming to terms with himself as an independent adult and his place in the world.
  • Good Parents: Both Ashima and Ashoke clearly love Gogol and Sonia, and try their best to help them integrate into a completely foreign culture; often at the expense of maintaining their own comforting/familiar cultural traditions
  • I Have No Son: Averted; even though Gogol tries to reject his background and distance himself from his parents, they still are as much a part of his life as he will let them be, and make an effort not to be an embarrassment or call him by the wrong name.
  • Meaningful Name: Gogol was not named according to Bengali tradition, but after his father's favourite author, whose writing saved his father's life. Significant because it symbolises Gogol's feeling of distance from both cultures, and from his father. Ashima, meaning 'she who is without borders', is also rife with symbolism: she bridges the cultural gap for her family, constructs a Bengali community in Boston, and in the end chooses to spend her time between Calcutta and America, not fixed in any one place
  • One Steve Limit: Gogol feels like this applies to him, in contrast to every other person he meets, because his name isn't either American or Indian. Averted, as he is named after Nikolai Gogol, a Russian writer who is fairly prominent in the novel.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Gogol, who becomes 'Nick' at university.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Moushimi, whom Gogol used to play with (or not) when they were both small
  • Wham Chapter : Gogol's settled into a routine in his surroundings and relationship when Ashoke dies
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