The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri, is a story of culture, race, and inheritance and how these factors mold our attitudes and direct our lives in an ever-changing society. The novel follows the lives of Ashima and Asoke Ganguli, and how they left behind a life in India that they had grown to know and love to live the American dream and provide the best life for themselves and their children. Gogol, their only son, and the carrier of their family name, struggles incessantly to find his identity while attempting to mold to his family’s expectations and the expectations of American society. The latter dictated that adhering to the model of the Standard North American family establishes normalcy. Gogol engages in a constant struggle to remain loyal to both worlds. Hence, the major theme portrayed in the novel is one of identity. This them is illustrated vividly by examining the importance of one’s culture and background, gender, and name as the definition of patriarchal lineage and destiny in life. Such factors that contribute to problems with identity are not only recognizable in Indian cultures, but can become hindrances for many immigrants who enter the United States each year.
Michael D. Reiter, Ph.D
"The Namesake: A Struggle for Identity,"
Mako: NSU Undergraduate Student Journal: Vol. 1
, Article 2.
Available at: http://nsuworks.nova.edu/mako/vol1/iss1/2