The Immigration Experience In The Namesake, By Jhumpa Lahiri

1746 Words 7 Pages
Jhumpa Lahiri’s book The Namesake, whose central theme is the immigrant experience, is a beautifully written novel. One may certainly expect this from Lahiri. She is highly educated, possessing three Master’s degrees in English, Creative Writing, and Comparative Studies between Literature and the Arts ( Britannica 2017). She has a deep personal connection with the recurring themes and topics of migration, identity, and immigration that permeate her books. While being interviewed for the April 2008, issue of The Atlantic by Isaac Chotiner, she was questioned as to why her literature continuously focuses on the immigration experience. She replied by saying “It interests me to imagine characters shifting from one situation and location to another …show more content…
The “New York Times” describes the book as “Quietly dazzling...The Namesake is that rare thing: an intimate, closely observed family portrait that effortlessly and discreetly unfolds to disclose a capacious social vision… a debut novel that is as assured and eloquent as the work of a longtime master of the craft”. Other works written by her include The Clothing of Books, In Other Words, Hell-Heaven, The Lowland, and Unaccustomed Earth. The four main characters of the Namesake are Ashoke Ganguli (father, husband), Ashima Ganguli (mother, wife), Sonia Ganguli (daughter) and Gogol Ganguli (son). Ashoke and Ashima were brought together through an arranged marriage. This practice is very common in Indian culture. This traditional form of marriage is mentioned in the novel from Gogol’s point of view. “To him, the terms of his parents’ marriage are something at once unthinkable and unremarkable; nearly all their friends and relatives had been married in the same way” …show more content…
They have held onto this belief, even though they have chosen to live in America and raise their family in a country that is very individualistic. When Ashima first arrives, she constantly cries for the relatives she has left behind. According to Ashoke “On more than one occasion he has come home from the university to find her morose, in bed, rereading her parents’ letters. Early mornings, when he senses that she is quietly crying, he puts an arm around her but can think of nothing to say, feeling that it is his fault, for marrying her, for bringing her here” (33). She is an outsider in a strange land. American and Indian cultures are very different. One of those differences involves the public display of affection between a man and his wife. “Whatever love exists between them is an utterly private, uncelebrated thing.”

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