Symbols In The Namesake, By Thomas C. Foster

Good Essays
In Thomas C. Foster’s How to Read Literature like a Professor, Foster writes an entertaining guide of how to dig deeper into the metaphorical meaning of every piece of literature in hopes to inspire the minds of tomorrow not only to grow in their understanding of symbols but also to trust themselves and the knowledge they already have. In relation to Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake, Foster lends understanding to such common symbols like sex not being at all about the actual act but representing the challenge of one to change what is culturally expected of him. Foster also highlights that while the main character is usually safe from harm, the people around him are the ones that may get hurt in fault of the main character. Foster overall warns …show more content…
In The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri uses sex as a pathway for Gogol to attempt to break through the cultural rules places upon him by his family. Foster offers that sex is a “symbolic action claiming for the individual freedom from convention” in which Gogol has been held to his whole life (Foster 155). As Gogol recollects on his first sexual encounter he “recalled nothing from that episode [except] only being thankful” that he had done it (Lahiri 114). This shows that Gogol is not fully interested in the sexual act, but subconsciously in the act of rebelling against his parents. When Gogol begins to live with Maxine in her parent’s home, he begins to become alive as he immerses himself into the care free life he wishes he had. When her parents go on vacation leaving them in the house alone, they have full run of the house and they take …show more content…
Foster explains that when an author wants to include a physical pain in order to represent something that the main character is feeling, “they cannot fulfill those requirements directly, not if the story is to continue” (Foster 80). Therefore, the author must subject innocent bystanders to take the wrap. Like when Ashoke’s younger cousin “tried to imitate him” by walking and reading at the same time, he “had fallen down the red clay staircase … and broke an arm” (Lahiri 13). Ashoke was not the one that was hurt by his obsession with books, but his innocent cousin was. Foster also proposes that plot “grows out of the nature of the characters, which we then discover through their actions” meaning that when a main character is facing difficult times, how the character gets through it is what the author is trying to point out (Foster 89). He also indicates a more specific symbol that “heart disease provides a suitable emblem … [for] loneliness” (Foster 217). Like when Ashima is trying to plan a trip back home to Calcutta, she “regrets that they can’t go earlier” because she has many circumstances keeping her in America although she is feeling very lonely and home sick (Lahiri 41). Very soon does she learn of her father’s death “of a heart attack” which ends up expediting her trip back

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