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Namesake: Nikolai Gogol and Gogol S Circumstance Essay

The Namesake has a connection to belonging as if deals with the disconnection of the Ganguli’s. The theme of alienation and the search for belonging between the two cultures is represented through the shifts between the two countries; where Ashoke and Ashima move to America growing their children up in an American society but teaching them Bengali traditions. Lahiri uses techniques such as symbols to illustrate the sense of belonging and not belonging. Throughout the novel, the composer of the namesake illustrates an aspect of belonging through the technique symbolism.

Lahiri uses the motif of cooking and the symbol of the namesake, to create the sense of belonging and not belonging. Names are closely linked to identity and can help or hinder a sense of belonging. However in Gogol’s circumstance he struggles to fit in both the America society and his Bengali home as he feels his name does not belong in either culture. On page 100 we see Gogol’s frustration with his name, “the only person who didn’t take Gogol seriously, the only person who tormented him.. was Gogol.. ” Here the author has demonstrated to the reader that nobody else judges him for his name, yet he feels that he does not belong.

This reflects Gogol’s insecurity with his name making him feel out of place in both cultures. Resulting to him changing his name in order to belong in his American society rather than his home culture. The ongoing contrast between the two cultures, connect to a sense of belonging. As it shows the differences between where Gogol and Ashima feel comfortable to where they belong. Ashima never feels like she totally belongs in America and on page 1 she wants to prepare an Indian traditional meal with American ingredients which is unsuccessful. But by the end on page 274 she is cooking her last feast which she has become renowned for.

Lahiri presents the symbol of food as Ashima’s bicultural belgonging. `Where as Gogol feels as if he doesn’t belong with his Indian culture and their eating ways. On page 133 Gogol Is having dinner with Maxine’s family and he is comparing her family ways to his, the Bengali feasts to Lydia and Gerald’s eating habits. Which represents where he is most comfortable with and that is in the American ways. In conclusion Lahiri uses the technique of symbols and motifs to interpret the different aspects of belonging, and the search for the belonging between two countries.


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