The Namesake Review; Transnational Migrants and the Hybrid Cultural Phenomena

Topics: The Namesake, Culture, Nikolai Gogol Pages: 17 (6134 words) Published: October 26, 2011

The namesake is a touching story narrating the life of an Indian couple that migrated to the United States during the last 25 years of the 20th century. I was inspired by the profound and warm touch of how the author deliberately telling story. The beautiful language and the thoughtful phrases the author used in weaving the efforts of the immigrants, the happiness they try to build in their new living environment and also the inevitable sadness that instantly approached, have ensured me that this story is worth stressing crucial notions on my final paper. My exchange student friend, an Indian girl from University of California, Berkeley, Kumar Kristy, once said to me "My family and I cried when we watched the film…the story is so similar to us." At first, I did not understand why Kristy had to be so sensitive when talking about the film. After I spent time studying the story in depth, I have found that living in a place where one differs from others, in one or more context such as different in appearances, cultures, traditions, and having distinctive way of life, is not easy. Throughout the book, I have discovered the main characters’ attempts, both in maintaining their native identity, and also running away from one’s origins in order to fit perfectly in new environments. I have realized how important transnational issues of migrants in the race, religious, and cultural context studied in class could help in explaining migrants’ lives. Having an opportunity studied in the class where hundreds of notions are raised and refined through the significant lens of the Nation, the State and Transnationalism, has considerably made the story even more thoughtful from my perspective. The differences between the two cultures of the Namesake’s main characters are impressively embroidered in the continued scenes; from the moment they entered the United States, had children, until the moment when one of them is forever departed. The subject “The Nation, the state and transnationalism” together with the namesake story enhances my perspectives on the significant matter of the world that I have never tended to touch on before.

The Namesake is the novel of Jhumpa Lahiri written in 2003 and was later made into a film directed by Mira Nair in 2006. The Namesake depicts the 2 generations of Bengali, Indian family lives as immigrant of the United States. The story is mainly about a small family, making the voyage between two worlds; from Calcutta, the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal to Cambridge; the capital of Massachusetts, the United States of America. Ashima and Ashoke Ganguli, a Bengali couple migrated to Cambridge after their arranged marriage, leaving behind their family in Calcutta. Ashoke, at that time, was the doctoral candidate in electrical engineering at MIT, they both live in a small flat nearby Ashoke’s college. Despite Ashima’ tight origins bond, she tries to adjust to a new life to new home, as there are no other choices but to make a living with her husband. After a while, they are blessed with two children; one son, Gogol and one daughter, Sonia. Although Gogol and his sister were raised up with the assimilation of Indian culture given by his parents, who did not mind their son's American disposition, they become typical American teenagers and have, to some degree, lost their cultural Indian identity. The story was centered at Gogol, named after Russian author Nikolai Gogol, who wants to fit among his fellows in New York despite his Family unwillingness to let go of traditional ways. His parents struggle to understand his modern, American perspectives on dating, marriage and love. Gogol tries to maintain distance away from his origins, and his parents by having American girlfriends and taking college years in New York in order to be away from home. He even changed the name given by...
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