Sociology - the Namesake (a Movie by Nira Mair 2007)- Does Culture Affect Behavior

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Sociology 201
Does Culture Affect Identity and Behavior?
A Movie-Thesis Based on the Movie:
The Namesake
by Mira Nair (2007)
Based on the Novel
By Jhumpa Lahiri

Does culture affect identity and behavior? The Namesake is the story of Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli from their traditional arranged marriage in Calcutta, India, to their immigrant life in America and the family they raised in the suburbs of New York. The film explores cultural identity and tends to reflect at key turning points in the story on the Russian “pet” name, Gogol, that Ashoke gave his son in honor of the author of a book he had been reading on a train prior to its crash. The parents cling to their Indian heritage and watch in quiet dismay as their children embrace and favor American culture.

Though Gogol embraced his name as a child above his formal name of Nickhal, he changed it to Nick in High School after being teased and learning of the author’s dysfunctional life and asked his father why he had been given the name. Ashoke tried to explain by giving Nick a copy of the book, The Overcoat by Gogol, but sensed that Nick was not able to relate to the depth of the gift and the meaning behind his name at that time so Ashoke ended the conversation with the statement that one day Nick would understand that they “all came from Gogol’s Overcoat.” As time passed, life experiences brought the family to a turning point where Ashima began to accept the Americanized life choices her children were making, yet upon the death of his father, Nick began to reflect on how his American ways distanced him from his parents during his teenage years, and as he mourned his father’s death, he began to respect and embrace his Indian heritage and discovered the deeper meaning of the name his father gave him, which was symbolic of Ahoke’s decision to immigrate from Calcutta to the United States. The main themes throughout the movie are family, culture, identity, and change.

The Namesake is...
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