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What's In A Name Essay

1086 words - 5 pages

There are many cultures that place a huge importance in names and the naming of their child. In these cultures a name is more than a nice-sounding label, a name can tell a story and pave way for a destiny. Many believe that while it might be easy to brush off names as less important than personality or parenting, it's not so far-fetched to say that a name is one's destiny.
There is a fair amount of research in our society that backs up something called "nominative determinism.” This is the theory that a name may influence career, professional life, and even who you choose to marry (“Nominative Determinism”). While scientists and writers alike have put hours into these studies, I don’t ...view middle of the document...

In their essay, “Trading Up: Where Do Baby Names Come From”, authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner cleverly outline how names cycle through socioeconomic populations. They were able to identify that once a name catches on among high-income, highly educated parents, it starts to work its way down the socioeconomic ladder (v 119). Their claim states that “many parents, whether they realize it or not, like the sound of names that sound “successful” (Levitt, Dubner 120). We all want our children to be successful. Most of us hope that our children will have greater happiness and fortune than we have for ourselves. By giving children “successful” names, parents are projecting their hopes and dreams for their children’s futures. The authors solidify this point by saying, “all parents are trying to signal something with a name, and an overwhelming number of parents are seemingly trying to signal their own expectations of how successful they hope their children will be. The name itself isn’t likely to make a shred of difference. But the parents may feel better knowing that, from the very outset, they tried their best” (Levitt, Dubner 120).
In one of my favorite novels, The Namesake, the central character is named for a Russian author but holds the last name of his Bengali father. The result is the unfortunate name “Gogol Ganguli.” Although his father named him for the author that he believed saved his life, Gogul struggles mightily with his name to the point of changing it. Only his family members call him by his given name and he notes, “Without people in the world to call him Gogol, no matter how long he himself lives, Gogol Ganguli will, once and for all, vanish from the lips of loved ones, as so, cease to exist. Yet the thought of this eventual demise provides no sense of victory, no solace. It provides no solace at all (289; ch.12).

Gogol's identity is closely tied to his name. By the end of the novel, the idea that there might be a time where no family members will be around to call him "Gogol" saddens him. Maybe he...

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