The Theme Of Identity In The Namesake By Jhumpa Lahiri

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Assimilating oneself into a whole new culture, while still connecting to one’s rooted culture is not an easy task. Just like in the case of Gogol’s, cultures tend to clash creating it much harder for one to identify themselves. This causes feelings of isolation and loss of self-identity. Gogol’s quest in searching for his true individuality plays a vital role in his life. He is challenged in where he considers himself fitting in. He is pulled into the direction of two different cultures: Indian and American, but cannot seem to find a complete connection to either. He desires to find this for himself. In The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, Gogol/Nikhil's development in the novel displays how he struggles to discover his personal and cultural identity …show more content…
This is because he is told by his father that he will go by a new name there, his good name “Nikhil”. He does not understand why he must go by a different name, and “doesn’t want a new name” (Lahiri 57). To him, Nikhil is “someone he doesn’t know” and someone “who doesn’t know him” (Lahiri 57). But, his parents inform him that this is a part of being Bengali. When he arrives at school, he never ends up going by the good name his parents created for him. He rejected the name himself, which he later on in his life regret doing. By him doing so, he is beginning to deny his dual identity being set up for him. Overtime, as he moves forward in school, he begins to recognize the odd nature of his name. He discovers his name is not a first name, an American name, or even a Bengali name. “And so it occurs to him that no one he knows in the world, in Russia or India or America or anywhere shares his name” (Lahiri 78). He becomes ashamed of his pet name as he encounters many questions from classmates about it that he cannot answer. He feels as though his name “manages nevertheless to distress him physically” (Lahiri 76). This is what sparks Gogol’s confusion about his name, and one of the main reasons of why he feels alienated to both cultures. As stated by Hamid Farahmandian, names are very important in shaping one’s identity. The issue of Gogol’s “identity and belongingness in The Namesake” (Farahmandian) is identified through his name. Gogol experiences “the issue of multiculturalism and the influence on the person’s identity” (Farahmandian) because of his name and the challenges it brings him internally. This is the first of the transformations in Gogol’s life regarding his identity

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