The Namesake Identity

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ENG 101
Professor Fisher
04/26/12
Space & Identity
The story The Namesake, which was quickly made into a movie, consists of challenges that every character faces through their surroundings and their ability to adapt unto change. Each character in The Namesake obtains challenges from inhabiting or the desire to inhabit spaces, which define them by how they react to these situations. This paper will describe the characters actions and identities and their surroundings unto change as well as Gogol’s ambition to be an architect which works with domestic interiors.

One of the characters that obtain multiple identities is Ashoke: “He was born twice in India and a third in America. Three lives by thirty.” (Page 21) This implies that from his near death experience as the first time when Ashoke was on the train, the end of his second into his third life is when he moves to America. These three ‘lives’ are not implied as Ashoke does not deserve to live. It merely states that when he left to America the drastic change in lifestyle as if he lives a completely different life then how he did in India. “I’m scared, I’ve never seen them like this before” states Sonia after seeing Ashima and Ashoke embracing the Taj Mahal while on their vacation. Sonia states that she has never seen her parents act this way, as if they are more comfortable with the life they live in India than in America. Here you can see how the characters Ashoke and Ashima both have a positive and vibrant impact on the environment they inhabit back in India, as compared to how they live their lives in America. In addition, the book makes clear that when the family moved to America, they only spoke to and associated themselves with other Bengali families, which shows their unwillingness to adapt to change. It also states in the book, whenever they drove somewhere, they never stopped. They never took a break from the road to enjoy the weather, never stopped by in the city to see the architecture; they only drove to where they were going and nowhere else. It is obvious that Ashoke and Ashima choose not to inhabit the American lifestyle just by secluding themselves from their neighbors and co-workers.

Some of the examples of space in the book that represent Ashoke are things such as his death. Ashoke took Gogol by the waterside, and told him “you and me made this journey when there was nowhere else to go.” Ashoke tries to not only show the actualization of life to Gogol, but the understanding of there being a soul without a person; he sugest that you do not have to physically be there, in order to actually be there. This was Ashoke’s space; the open. Everywhere you look, whether it would be a park or a cemetery, Ashoke tried to make Gogol understand that he will always be around, no matter how far away he is. Another example of space is when Gogol goes to the old room where his father once lived, to collect his things.

Ashima was a character with no choice. She had an arranged marriage through the Indian lifestyle, which then led her to America to give birth and raise her two children. Ashima seems quite stubborn in the story, by not adapting to change, and by not adapting this new ‘American’ identity. There were times when she was in America trying to make Indian food to cure her home sickness, unfortunately it did not help. Ashima refused this second life she lived in America, and towards the end of the book, she begins to adapt slowly but surely. Ashima as a character in the end of the book is driving a car and she is a librarian, whom she did not wish to drive and never adapted to the social and work life in America, she has ended up making some American friends and adapting the American culture. At first she does not do well with inhabiting the American environment, and it takes her some time before she begins to try out this new thing for her.

Ashima was a character that was given a strong portion of space in the book. One example of space is...
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