The Namesake, presents the life of Ashima Ganguli, who has been transported from India
to America with grace and compassion. This story by Jhumpa Lahiri, is an allegory establishing an identity with using symbolic meaning between two cultures that intersect. The themes throughout the story refer to immigrant experiences, the conflict of cultures, the contrast of assimilation and the connection between generations. The Namesake, opens the worlds of emotions Ashima experiences, while straddling her two worlds. This story of identity allows readers to travel with Ashima on an intimate journey through her life as an immigrant.
As a young wife and mother, Ashima Ganguli experiences labor and delivery just like many other American women, in a hospital. Motherhood is offered as a transnational identity, representing the traditional gender roles sometimes considered subordinate. Ashima quietly observes the habits of the American women that surround her. She overhears husbands telling their wives they love them. This is something a Bengali husband or wife would never say. While maintaining many traditional Bengali beliefs and practices, giving birth in a hospital is more typical of an American woman. Traditionally, Indian women are known to give birth in the home where they grew up, returning to their childhood, without the presence of their husbands or inlaws.
The traditional Indian sari that is draped around Ashima is exchanged for a hospital gown that leaves her feeling embarrassed by exposing her lower legs. For this reason, Ashima doesn’t relate to the many American women that wear short skirts, exposing their skin. Ashima is feeling lonely, knowing she will be sleeping alone for the very first time. She has always slept in a bed with either her parents or her husband. This story clearly illustrates how customs develop bonds shared by family and loved ones.
This book depicts the national and cultural status of the immigrant mother, who is able to preserve the traditions of her Indian heritage that connect her to her homeland. Ensuring a successful future for her American-born children is coordinated with the privilege of being an American citizen. Ashima yearns for her homeland and her family that she left behind when
marrying and moving to Boston.
Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settled together in Cambridge, Massachusetts, following their arranged wedding. Ashoke is an engineer by training and has no trouble adapting to his new life. Ashima, resists all things American and pines for her family. Ashima remains silent about her feelings of loneliness, however Ashoke is aware of how much she misses her homeland. Ashima and Ashoke have been raised in traditional Bengali homes where having servants is part of the culture. At their traditional Indian wedding ceremony, Ashima circled her husband seven times. I can envision this ceremony as this practice is the same in a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony I also engaged in. There are many...