Scholarly Article on The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

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Scholarly Article on “The Namesake” By Jhumpa Lahiri

The article I chose is titled, “From Hybrids to Tourists: Children of Immigrants in Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake,” written by Natalie Friedman. This in depth article focuses on the inner personal struggle of an immigrant family to the United States with emphasis on Gogol Ganguli. Friedman distinguishes “the Namesake” from most other novels of its kind. As opposed to stories about immigrants coming to the United States in search of financial freedom, Lahiri flips the switch and conveys a completely different aspect of migrating. Instead Lahiri tries to illustrate a struggle separate from seeking wealth, which is the struggle to discover one’s true identity. Difficulties arise in terms of the main character named Gogol because he has split identities and fails to realize it until the end of the novel. Friedman used the term “cosmopolites” many times in her article to describe the Ganguli family. She refers to cosmopolites as “members of a shifting network of global travelers whose nationalities are flexible.” (Friedman, 112) Lahiri’s novel especially strays from traditional novels in that even the mother, Ashima, doesn’t seem to sway towards India as being her real home, even though she grew up there. Throughout the entire novel Lahiri sets precedents for this genre of literature.

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After reading this article multiple times, it seems to me that Friedman’s thesis is clear. She really focuses on trying to explain the uniqueness of this particular Indian family living in America. Each of the family members go through individual struggles and triumphs, but it is made clear that the ups and downs the Ganguli’s experience are unlike most in typical immigrant novels. Rather than a story about immigrants moving to the United States to seek the “American Dream,” Lahiri puts emphasis on the struggle to find identity, mainly through the first-born son Gogol. “Ashima does not feel bound to stay in...
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