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The Namesake By Jhumpa Lahiri Essay

2267 words - 9 pages

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri Living in America, the Ganguli’s have the difficult choice of choosing between two dramatically different cultures. As a second generation Indian American, Gogol Ganguli is expected to preserve the ideals of his traditionally Indian parents while still successfully assimilating into mainstream American culture. In “The Namesake,” Jhumpa Lahiri reveals the stark contrasts between the perceptions of Ashima, Ashoke and Gogol in relation to their Indian and American views of relationships.
During his youth, Gogol Ganguli undoubtedly embraces American culture enthusiastically while distancing himself from his Bengali origins, particularly in the realm of relationships. He, despite his parent’s wishes, becomes much like an average American teenager. Although “[he] does not date anyone in high school… [and] does not attend dances or parties” (93), he still has crushes on girls and wishes he were able to date them. Gogol’s parents are utterly naïve about what he is truly like during his teenage years. They did not have any relationships with the opposite sex in their youth so they do not find it strange that Gogol does not either. Moreover, it seems absolutely absurd to them that he would even consider girls and his age. Dating would take away from time he could devote to his studies and is therefore not even an option.
Rather than encouraging him to date, his parents encourage him to “join the math team and pursue engineering” (93) at a prestigious university such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Assured by his indifference to girls, his parents don’t suspect Gogol … of smoking pot…,driving to a neighborhood town to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show, or into Boston to see bands in Kenmore Square” (93). All of his parents hopes and dreams for Gogol are centered fully on academic achievement. At this point, having an active social life, or even healthy relationships with the opposite sex, is completely out of the question. Gogol fulfills all their scholastic expectations so they do not have any reasons to doubt his intentions. On a weekend where he was supposed to practice for the SATs, he and his friends ended up driving to a college party at the university his father taught at in Cambridge. It was there that he had his first kiss with a girl. The trip, and the elation he felt after the kiss, represents a victory for his Americanized view of relationships and a further distancing from his Indian perspective. Having physical contact with a member of the...

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