Dr. Jodi Melamed
Cultural Identity in The Namesake
The Namesake illustrates several elements of transition that are common to the stories of immigrant families and their children. As shown in the film, the first generation connects with their cultural identity and roots to a far greater degree and density than their children do. The second generation exists between two realities of culture including their ethnic heritage and the world they live in presently. There is a barrier between parents and first-generation American born children. Some immigrant families will not accept the fact that times are changing and they did not grow up in the same country, they have not faced the same struggles, or even began to realize how hard and much different America is than most other nations. Their children have access to many things at their age then the parents did. For example, in America, if Gogol wants to date, then he can date. Back home in India, dating is unacceptable and it is not as easy to maintain a girlfriend in India then it is here, in America. In this analysis of culture and identity, The Namesake will be depicted as an intellectual and an existing struggle for characters to establish their identity. In this film, adapted form a depiction of Bengali life in Western society, there are assorted scenes of emotional and relationship related issues that face the main characters. Focusing on the lives of Ashima and Ashoke in the western world including their son
Gogol, there is a clear contrast between the lifestyles and values upheld by both age groups. This not only contributes to the problems each experience in their journeys, but also the cultural identity that each establishes as their own. Each character presents significant transformation in these areas. The film The Namesake illustrates aspects of cultural identity and formation of specific personas through its storyline, character development and specific use of camera motion and light within scenes. The cultural aspects experienced by each character are visualized in a meaningful way as well as the interconnected nature of relationships between Gogol and his parents. Since there are disagreements in the way that Gogol, a second generation Bengali, lives his life in comparison to his parents, it is possible to see similarities in the way each character develops throughout the movie. Also, the use of close up camera documentation of each character’s response and attitudes portrays the scenes most carefully and with maximum evidence for emotional development in terms of the audience’s visualization. The close up camera movement shows us how exactly the character was feeling and how their emotion changes in one scene. There are several scenes and shots from this movie that provide detail about the how each characters transformation illustrates their cultural identity. Two of these are clear portrayals of the differences faced by Gogol. In a scene showing a vacation to his Caucasian family’s home there were clear indicators of his acceptance amongst the family. The warm conversation and clearly welcoming atmosphere made his lifestyle with his partner much easier compared to his parents who weren’t extremely encouraging of the relationship. The sense of respect is shown by slower camera angles with little tension besides regular circumstantial evidence. These are well-lit scenes that show how the characters feel and the best case scenarios experienced by Gogol.
This is in simple contrast to the scenes illustrating a trip the couple makes to his family home. Instead of warm greetings his parents are unable to understand the social norms of dating as well as the cultural standards of the American life. This results in his partner exhibiting warmness and sympathy comparable to her own upbringing only to receive less than warm responses. This is because of the emotional and cultural differences that are demonstrated in terms...
Cited: Idol Chatter,. '‘The Namesake ': A Journey Of Self Discovery '. N. p., 2014. Web. 13 Dec. 2014.
Lawson, Dayo,. 'SELECTED QUOTES & PASSAGES: THE NAMESAKE BY JHUMPA LAHIRI « Dayo Lawson '. N. p., 2014. Web. 13 Dec. 2014.
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