English IV-4th Period
10 September 2012
Name and Identity
The importance of name and identity in this novel is far more drastic than a reader could understand. A name has so much meaning that many people are not able to fathom it. A simple name change does not alter the fabric of a person. The changing of a name symbolizes the double identity of Gogol. In Lahiri’s novel, the main character fights an identity crisis because of his highly unusual name. Gogol struggles between two cultures to try and figure out his own identity and where he belongs. He attempts to create separation between himself and his parents’ worlds, but never feels authentic as Nikhil.
When Gogol starts kindergarten, his parents want him to go by “Nikhil” at school and “Gogol” at home. Gogol is bothered by this because he feels he does not want another name. “He is afraid to be Nikhil, someone he doesn’t know. Who doesn’t know him.” (Lahiri 19). He believes changing his name will change his identity. He thinks his name came through the train accident his father had. Gogol thinks that Nikhil is someone else and doesn’t want to be two people. As soon he turns eleven he then learns how unique his name is. By the time he is fourteen, Gogol hates his name. At the college party, Gogol introduces himself to Kim as “Nikhil,” instead of Gogol. This shows that Gogol has an identity changed. . It gives him the confidence to kiss her: "It hadn't been Gogol who had kissed Kim... Gogol had nothing to do with it."(Lahiri 96). Nikhil is a new man and it is the man that he had his first kiss and his first girlfriend. Nikhil does not introduce Ruth to his parents because she does not know his real name is Gogol. "He cannot imagine being with her in a house where he is still Gogol" (Lahiri,114). His new identity change has made him feel different. He now has a sense of urgency, a sense of belonging with these new people. Every relationship Nikhil goes into brings out a new...
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