The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri: A Review

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Belonging is an inevitable human condition which empowers an individual for better or sometimes for worse. An individual’s perceptions of belonging evolve in response to the passage of time and interaction with their world. It is a condition which is portrayed through the novel the Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri, and the cult movie The Breakfast Club directed by John Hughes which encapsulate the struggles and journey’s of both feelings through the passage of time.

In the literary text the dynamic characters illuminate the idea and challenges of belonging. Ashima a female who is of Indian decent is an integral protagonist that experiences the difficulties of belonging. Of Indian heritage that once lived with her family in Calcutta she makes the formidable migration of America following her new husband. Moving to the Americas was a monumental discovery of the unknown. It meant abandoning her culture, native tongue, people, past and significant memories that composed her identity. Ashima’s confronted weaknesses of being afraid of letting go of her culture and loosing herself in the “foreign” , ”deserted land”. However as time passed Ashima learns to balance out the cultures and live semi parallel lives/lifestyles and finally accepts both cultures and achieving the sense of belonging she was struggling to come to terms with as “Ashima has decided to spend six months of her life in India and six months in the States”.

An example of such confronting events include the chapter where Ashima pulls out her “Desh Magazine” from Calcutta “not brining herself to throw away” in America symbolically represents her strong connection back to India Calcutta and her connection to her strong culture, she is still clinging to, unable to let go. Not only has Ashima bought “Desh Magazines” back from Calcutta, she continues to “wear nothing but saris” to maintain her culture and identity, whereas Ashoke her husband “accustomed to wearing tailor-made pants and shirts all his life”

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