Namesake And Metamorphosis The Namesake Essay
Excerpt from Essay :
Being away from one's family is hard; it takes time to get used to it. The newly married woman did know how to face this difficult situation and no one to counsel her on the subject.
The wife moved away from her parents' house, then she got two children a boy and a girl. The choice they made for the boy's name was unfortunate. They called him Gogol, like the Russian writers his father admired so much and this name would provide countless occasions for his peers in America to make fun of him. He will later struggle to change it into a neutral old American name, Nike and will finally succeed. Despite that, his family will continue to call him Gogol.
Gogol is a suburban male teenager caught between his Indian roots and his American birthrights. Gogol and his Indian-born parents must somehow strive to keep a balance between age-old tradition and their modern-day living style and the sensibilities they touch as they search for a patch of common ground.
Gogol and his sister got the chance to go to India, the place where their ancestors came from. They spent there eight months and had the opportunity to see the difference between living in America and anywhere else. The consequence was that they didn't want to stay there more than it was necessary and longed for their lives in the U.S.
Gogol passed through many difficult situations, some provided by common things that prove to become very important for a young boy fighting to find his place among his colleagues. First, his name is bothering him, then all of his relationships didn't workout.
The first girlfriend he had was American and they had trouble understanding each other and finding a common ground to interact. The fact that they had almost no chance in building together a long-term relationship because of the huge cultural difference between their families contributed to their brake up.
Making his struggle to find his place in society even more difficult, Gogol's father passed away. After that, Gogol decided to become more Indian than before, following the Indian tradition instead of trying to adopt the more liberal western style. Consequently, he accepted to meet the Indian girl that was chosen for him again, then he decided to marry her. but, this did not turn out to be any better than his previous relationship. His wife was Indian, but she lived all her life in France, then she moved to New York. She was attached to the French culture, spoke the language and on top of that, she was in love with a French before she met Gogol. Eventually, they will get divorced. This is his second relationship that went bad, despite his determination to change things, to go back to his roots and accept living like his family.
His mother did not know what to do after her husband died. She had the choice either to stay in America or go back home. Gogol's sister got married, too. Their mother decided she did not want to spend her life alone in a country that remained strange to her. She sold the house and went back home. It turned out to be a good decision for everyone. She could go back to a life she was born in and had long longed for, knowing that her children were settled down and satisfied or with the potential of finding satisfaction one day. After Gogol got divorced he went back to live with his mother.
In this book the author concentrated more on Gogol's life, the difficulties that he faced and the way he handled them. The ending it is not a happy ending, because the father died, Gogol got divorced and the mother went back home. The family ended up by getting separated from one another and everyone moved on with their lives.
The death of the father and Gogol's divorce were two sources of great distress in the family and each of them were somehow affected by the events. Death of a first degree relative and divorce are considered the two biggest sources of distress in one's life. The namesake puts a third one on the same row with the two: culture clash.
...Gogol's mother, Ashima never tried to become an American and the only reason she stayed in her country of adoption was because she followed her husband. As soon as he died, her children away from home, with their families or friends, living a life on their own, she had no reason to stay any longer and returned to India. It is evident to the reader that she never actually left India in her heart.
In spite of the fact that readers are likely to have a better understanding of what Lahiri wanted to express through her book, it is still difficult to determine the exact factors that shape the book and that cooperate in sending a message regarding namelessness, lack of identity, and finding of oneself. The book deals with the life experiences of a specific community and unlike in "The Metamorphosis," readers can actually understand what it is that prevents characters from identifying themselves as American or Bengali. "The Metamorphosis" "abounds with misleading assumptions, perversion of traditional ideas, intricacies of deception, projective identification in families-all tinged with irony and paradox" (Gans).
Although Gogol struggles to think of himself as being American, his roots and the very source of his name remind him that he will always have Bengali blood running through his veins. Gogol was essentially a second-generation Asian immigrant, but his community cannot actually be named, given that most people believe that someone can either be an American citizen or an immigrant, with no middle ground between these two. Gogol is reluctant to think of himself as an immigrant or as having Bengali roots, as he is determined to abandon his background in favor of embracing a new life, completely different from that experienced by his parents. However, most Americans are unwilling to accept Gogol as a bona fide American and thus consider him to be a nothing more than a South-Asian immigrant.
Even though Gregor and Gogol both do their best to achieve success at what they do, they discover that they have to fight society in order to triumph. The masses will always think of them as being part of a particular public, in spite of the efforts the two make with the purpose of detaching themselves from their fate. The term "catachresis" can actually be used for Gogol's identity, as he could not be related to in a particular way.
Misnaming is a common occurrence in the contemporary society, with one of the best examples of such a thing being that concerning American Indians. Society considered that the only way to refer to all of the people who lived on the American continent previous to the first European landings would be American Indians, given that it was virtually impossible to relate to a multitude of ethnicities by using a single term (Amardeep).
Gogol is thus trying to find something that does not necessarily need to be found, as he simply has to accept his position in society rather than to struggle in vain for a meaningless cause.
"The Namesake" employs less subtlety in trying to deal with the concepts it is meant to put across. The book basically relates to a South Asian family immigrating in the U.S. And being unable to assimilate perfectly. Similar to how Kafka focused on alienation, Lahiri also concentrated on a contemporary trend in devising her book-high cultural pluralism. The character of Gogol serves as a tool meant to demonstrate that borders are no longer what most individuals think they are, since it takes much more than just citizenship for one to become a member of a nation.
Gogol virtually "finds himself struggling against the yoke of allegorical expectations as an embodiment of the Child: either choose assimilation into a cultural unity that desperately needs -- in its ever more visible density as fantasy -- to be shored up by such an affirmation or choose an allegiance to a pluralism that can be as suffocating as what it seeks to supersede" (Song). Although most novels in this category (postmodern multicultural) attempt to present readers with a method of becoming assimilated into a culture, "The Namesake" simply presents a case involving South Asian individuals being unable to adapt to cultural trends they encounter in the U.S. Through this, the author is likely to want to raise public awareness regarding how it is wrong to try to deny one's roots, just as it is extremely hard and almost impossible for one to try and…
Sources Used in Documents:
Bloom, Harold. Franz Kafka's the Metamorphosis. Chelsea House. (New York, 1988).
Eisner, Pavel. Franz Kafka and Prague. Golden Griffin Books. (New York, 1950).
Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis. (Kessinger Publishing, 2004).
Lahiri, Jhumpa. The namesake. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004).
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