Cultural Traditions, Migration, Family and Identity Are Issues Which Emerge Throughout the Novel the Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. How Have Various Literary Techniques Been Used to Show That These Issues Play a Major Role

Topics: The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri, Culture Pages: 3 (1045 words) Published: November 5, 2012
Cultural traditions, migration, family and identity are issues which emerge throughout the novel The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. How have various literary techniques been used to show that these issues play a major role in an individual experiencing a sense of belonging or not belonging? The need to belong to a group or community shapes our behaviour, attitudes and actions. Instinctively we bond with our own or people we may otherwise not have. However, when your cultural identity is marginalised you can feel dislocated and alienated, thus believing that you do not belong. These notions of an individual experiencing a sense of belonging or not belonging is evident in the novel The Namesake and is expressed through a variety of literary techniques. The Namesake portrays the Ganguli family over a course of thirty-two years. It follows Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli from shortly after their emigration from Calcutta, India, to Cambridge, Massachusetts in the late 1960’s. The story then follows the couple as their children are born and raised in the United States. It is their struggles, particularly those of the eldest son, Gogol, that compromise the bulk of the story. Immigration can create cultural confusion about belonging to a home and homeland. This is apparent through the food motif and listing in The Namesake. "Ashima stands in the kitchen of her Central square apartment, combining Rice Krispies and Planters peanuts and chopped red onion in a bowl. She adds salt, lemon juice, thin slices of green chili pepper, wishing there were mustard oil to pour into the mix. Ashima had been consuming this concoction throughout her pregnancy, a humble approximation of the snack sold for pennies on Calcutta sidewalks and on railway platforms throughout India, spilling for newspaper cones... Tasting from a cupped palm, she frowns; as usual, there's something missing." The fo0d that she is eating is a part of her cultural identity; however, the point made that there is something...
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