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CrItical Analysis: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

7 Pages 1745 Words February 2019

Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake narrates a story of a Bengali family that has settled in America voyaging around two different worlds. It is a journey of the past and the present, discovering and tracing identities of two generations of the Gangulis and their dependence on each other. Diaspora, Nostalgia, and Alienation are the major themes that recur in the novel but with varying graphs. Lahiri destroys the absolute and the usual by celebrating individuality, i.e., by the introduction of several distinct characters of similar histories and attributes but with dissimilar idiosyncrasies.
The diasporic displacement of the Gangulis from Calcutta to America did not begin when Ashoke married Ashima and flew to America, but it began on October 20, 1961, when Ashoke boarded a train from Calcutta to Jamshedpur where he meets Ghosh, who says to him, “You are still young. Free...Do yourself a favour...pack a pillow and a blanket and see as much of the world as you can. You will not regret it...” This was when the idea of living in America was sowed in Ashoke’s mind which influenced the entire course of destiny laid out for him and his family. His desire for living in America was mainly driven by wanderlust and better standards of living. He, too, was nostalgic like his wife at times but never allowed that nostalgia overpowers him. Ashoke’s life in America is that of an opportunist who makes most of what comes his way and excels at it. His entire life is devoted to work, research and reading balancing it with an adequate amount of family time. He is never too excessively engrossed in American manners and never too homesick.
The novel begins with Ashima failing at her attempts to re-create a road-side snack sold in paper cones in the streets of Calcutta followed by her admittance in Mount Auburn Hospital where the American atmosphere depresses her, and she escapes to her home in Calcutta in small flashbacks. The “tattered copy of the ...

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