<i>The Namesake</i> by Jhumpa Lahiri | Teen Ink

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri MAG

August 11, 2014
By starlightstarbright PLATINUM, Hoffman Estates, Illinois
starlightstarbright PLATINUM, Hoffman Estates, Illinois
25 articles 0 photos 14 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Some of you may have taken history or civics classes that outlined the freedoms one expects in a democracy. At the heart of those freedoms is choice... With an affirmative choice, all democracy vanishes."


As we grow up, we face difficulties with identity, morality, religion, sexuality, and sometimes things as seemingly simple as our roots. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri is a poignant novel about a newly married couple who immigrate from West Bengal, India, to Massachusetts. Lahiri weaves a story about the Ganguli family and their son, Gogol. The tale reveals the trials and tribulations of a young man growing up and attempting to come to terms with his two identities – his Bengali heritage and his American birthplace.

Through Lahiri’s depictions of Gogol’s life, she explains the struggle he has with his heritage and his attempt to ignore his ethnic background in favor of American culture. Through Gogol’s frustrations with his heritage and what it means to be Indian-­American, Lahiri portrays the unique struggle that children of immigrants face when they must decide between assimilation and acceptance of their family’s culture.

As the child of two Indian immigrants myself, The Namesake struck a chord with me. Lahiri describes in a perfect, prose-like structure the difficulty of having a foot in two worlds and at times being rejected by both. If you’ve ever felt the pangs of not fitting in or confusion over who you are, read The Namesake for its eloquence and acceptance of the adolescent struggles we all inevitably experience. 


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