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“The Namesake”: The Greatest Journeys Essay

The film “Namesake” that we viewed in class depicts the story of two young newlywed Indian immigrants who moved from Calcutta, India to settle in the United States of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Initially, the story begins to pick up pace when their son Gogol & his little sister Sonia is born during the first couple of years of their parents marriage where you notice the cultural differences among the Indian and American culture. In most western countries it is acceptable for parents to allow their children to make their own decisions so that they may develop a since of responsibility and be able to adapt to new experiences, whereas in Eastern cultures parents make decisions that they feel is beneficial to their child’s well being & are more authoritarian than those in western countries. This film also displays the struggles between the first-generation Bengali immigrants to the United States, and their children, particularly their son, Gogol who wants to fit in among his fellow New Yorkers, despite his family’s unwillingness to let go of their traditional ways.

In addition, various key elements of emerging adulthood as seen in the movie included identity development upon entering adulthood, an individual’s social class, gender, early attitudes toward education, and expectations in late adolescence. All of which that were the major building blocks in shaping Gogol’s future course into emerging adulthood. In “The Namesake” Ashoke’s son, Gogol Ganguli begins to struggle with his name when he reaches adolescence as many of his fellow classmates tease him about his name, & how much he dislikes his parents for keeping his name Gogol instead of his Bengali name Nikhil so that he won’t feel as though he’s an outsider in America.

The character Gogol struggles with finding his identity throughout the film, and is indifferent about the old Bengali Indian ways his parents try to instill in him such as marrying Bengali women, having children, and majoring in a career in Engineering like his father at MIT like his father wishes. However, he decides to major in Architecture at Harvard when their visiting the family in India. Gogol’s expectation in late adolescence is to become a normal American teenager like other American children by changing his name so that he won’t feel embarrassed if he were applying for a job or credit card, and reducing the risk of him being laughed at by peers when he’s older.

Moreover, two examples from the text that best expresses some important aspects of emerging adulthood is the refining of adult relationships with parents that Gogol had to come to terms with in the middle of the film where he was reluctant at first to visit his parents. Likewise, he seemed panicky with bringing his girlfriend Maxine to meet them as well because of his parent’s Bengali cultural customs where kissing and holding hands or any other expression of physical affection in public was deemed inappropriate in their society. In fact, on his visit to his parents home, I believe Gogol begins to understand the meaning behind his name, and in the right direction into discovering his identity or place in the world after his father Ashoke revealed the story of how is name came to be as he gave an account of what happened to him one fateful night as a young man before he died shortly after to a massive heart attack.

For instance, on a train back to India in the summer to see his grandfather, he had been reading a short story collection by one of his most beloved Russian writers, Nikolai Gogol, when the train derailed in the middle of the night, killing almost all the sleeping passengers onboard. Whereas Ashoke had survived the tragic ordeal by staying awake to read his Gogol, and him believing that the book had saved his life. Thus he decided to name his child Gogol as a reminder of all the happy memories that followed after the accident. Consequently, Gogol boosts his ego development, and comes to accept his name and picks up a collection of the Russian author’s stories that his father had given him as a birthday present many years ago. Although, Gogol no longer relies on his parents for basic sustenance, he still needs parental acceptance, empathy, support, and must continue to have a strong attachment to his parents because it remains a vital ingredient to his well being as he matures throughout life.

Gogol’s mother Ashima, feels a since of cultural loss when she moves to America at first with her husband who’s more optimistic, and leaving behind her family & friends in India where she had many beautiful memories. Key elements of middle adulthood displayed by Ashima in the movie was the reestablishment of identity once she came to terms to the loss of her husband after he died due to a massive heart attack, and remained resilient with the emotional support of family & friends of whom she had come to know and love in the foreign country she now calls as home when she made the decision to return to India.

Also, other key elements of middle adulthood is a positive mental health & psychological well-being, the refining of relationship similar to that of emerging adulthood for adolescents like adult children, siblings, or friends. More importantly, the crossing over of gender roles Ashima must complete to become dominant and independent living on her own now that her husband has passed away, and her children are moving onto to new stages in their lives.

Furthermore, other examples of middle adult may include generativity where mature adults are concerned for establishing, guiding, and influencing the next generation. As displayed by Ashima as she tries to guide her son down the right path of adulthood by suggesting that Gogol contact the daughter of one of her friends named Moushumi whom he remembers from his childhood. Even though her two children reject the old Bengali ways, she supports them of the decisions they make & still loves them. Also, midlife review that inspired Ashima to revision her value and priorities by take up her singing again in Calcutta once she returns to India.

In my final analysis of the key elements of emerging adulthood & middle adulthood, as well as the characters portrayed in the film. I believe the movie “Namesake” is very insightful into the struggles of immigrant’s loss of culture & identity once they come to America because some are not familiar with the language, currency, and often times are discriminated by others like the Ganguli family where their mailbox was spray-painted when they returned from vacation in India. Moreover, immigrant parents are frightened about raising their children in American because they worry about them forgetting their family’s culture, and them embracing that of American customs.


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