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The Namesake: Character Analysis Paper - Essay Example

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Name Institution Unit Instructor Date Compare and Contrast of Ashima and Gogol in the Namesake Ashima Ganguli and Gogol/Nikhil Ganguli in Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel, The Namesake, are two characters who turn out to belong to completely different worlds and have completely different and conflicting mindsets…
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The Namesake: Character Analysis Paper
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Download file to see previous pages Gogol is equally captured from right from the time he is delivered, through his childhood, his school life until the time he comes of age and unsuccessfully begins his own family. Whereas Gogol often shuns his indigenous Indian culture and torn between American and Indian culture through out the novel, his mother, Ashima consistently exhibits pride in adherence to Indian culture. Gogol’s struggle with his culture is very evident in the way he perceive his name, relates to the family and even in how he handles his relationships. Ashima’s perception and relationship with his culture is exhibited in her spirited efforts to traditionally name her children, her submissiveness to the husband and the manner she commands the life choices she demands of her children. The name Gogol was given to him by his father, Ashoke Ganguli, after failing to secure a traditional name from the Ashoke’s mother as Indian tradition demands. While in elementary school, Gogal fancied this name and insisted on being so called. However, by the time he reaches fourteen, he begins to hate and shun the name. This is aggravated by the fact that his peers mock him and by the fact that he has never heard any other perso4 having the name, nor does he understands what the name stands for. At some point, the father tries to explain to him what his name signifies, but his explanation falls on deaf ears; he happens not to be old enough to understand. In accordance with the Bengali Culture, the parents opt to give him another name, Nikhil. Culturally, Nikhil would serve as the sole public name, while Gogol would serve private purposes to be used only by family members and close friends (pet name). It must never be used in the public domain. Shortly before he goes to the college, he goes to the college; he secretly goes to the court house and has his name changed to Nikhil Gogol Ganguli. This is considered highly erroneous, as “Not only does Gogol Ganguli have a pet name turned good name, but a last name turned first name” (Lahiri 78). This is American naming system, involving the use of three names. Registering all the names and the fact that he uses all of them in the college at Yale makes the names public. The entire naming system changes his name, from his indigenous cultural perspective. Publicly adopting the name Gogol equally contravenes his culture. As the narrator put says, “…individual names are sacred, inviolable. They are meant to be inherited or shared” (Lahiri 28). However, by the time the story ends, he gets to know the significance of his name and gets to accept it. In fact, he regrets having changed his name on learning that the father so named him in remembrance a Russian author, whose work he was reading when the accident occurred. The paper caught the attention of the medics, who came to rescue him, without which the father would have died. Gogol’s struggle with his name and naming system and rebellion with the parents reflects his cultural instability and the extent to which he is torn between the American and Indian culture. On one hand he wishes to adopt American identity and on the other hand he seeks to feels guilty not identifying with Indian culture. He therefore attempts to solve this by settling for an Indo-American identity. In contrast with the son, Ashima is a conservative who openly subscribes to Indian culture. She does not undergo cultural and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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