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The Namesake

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by

Diana Flores

on 8 November 2013

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Transcript of The Namesake

So, what is the significance of food in the novel? What does it represent?
The Namesake
Is food very significant for the Indian culture?
Introduction
Jhumpa Lahiri uses various motifs throughout the novel.

One of the most important motifs is food since it helps exalt the differences in the Indian and the American culture.

By: Diana Flores
Rebecca Lopez
Alejandro Avelar
David Wolozy
Gogol's Identity Conflict
Gogol faces a conflict with his identity because he has trouble embracing his origin.

He has a difficult time accepting his Indian background, and does not value the importance of his native culture.

Gogol's Americanization is evident because he clearly prefers American food and lifestyle over Indian food.
YES!
"The occasion: Gogol's annaprasan, his rice ceremony. There is no batism for Bengali babies, no ritualistic naming in the eyes of God. Instead, the first formal ceremony of their lives centers around the consumption of solid food." (pg.38)

Annaprasan is a ceremony that celebrates the growth of Hindu babies and their transition from a liquid diet to a solid diet.
Gogol has never demonstrated appreciation towards his culture, including the food his mother cooked for him.

Since he was a small child, he preferred American food over Indian food.

"A final meal is served, an herbed omelette topped with a sliced of grilled tomato. Gogol savors each mouthful, aware that for the next eight months nothing will taste quite the same." (pg.81)
"As usual, his mother cooks for days beforehand, cramming the refrigerator with stacks of foil-covered trays." (pg.72)

It is evident that for Indian families sharing food with others is very important because it demonstrates courtesy and hospitality.
What importance does Gogol give to the Indian food?
“From time to time, they privately admit to excruciating cravings, for hamburgers or a slice of a pepperoni pizza or a cold glass of milk” (pg. 84)

Gogol is very attached to the American culture, and when he leaves for long trips to India, he yearns for his normal life with the food he likes.
Why didn't Gogol learn to appreciate his family's culture?
One of the main reasons of why Gogol never embraced his culture is that his parents never enforced their practices on their children.

Gogol and Sonia were allowed to do anything they wanted. Their parents never demonstrated the authority to make their children behave properly as Indians.
"In the supermarket, they let Gogol fill the cart with items that he and Sonia, but not they, consume: individually wrapped slices of cheese, mayonnaise, tuna fish, hot dogs. For Gogol’s lunches they stand at the deli to buy cold cuts, and in the mornings Ashima makes sandwiches with bologna or roast beef, at his insistence, she concedes and makes him an American dinner once a week as a treat, Shake ‘n Bake chicken or Hamburger Helper prepared with ground lamb” (pg.65)
"In the supermarket, they let Gogol fill the cart with items that he and Sonia, but not they, consume: individually wrapped slices of cheese, mayonnaise, tuna fish, hot dogs. For Gogol’s lunches they stand at the deli to buy cold cuts, and in the mornings Ashima makes sandwiches with bologna or roast beef, at his insistence, she concedes and makes him an American dinner once a week as a treat, Shake ‘n Bake chicken or Hamburger Helper prepared with ground lamb” (pg.65)
How does Gogol wish to live his life?

Gogol shows admiration towards the Ratliff family.

He observes how they behave during dinner, and as he gains more confidence with Max's family, he even lives with his girlfriend at her parent's house.
Gogol constantly compares his family to Max's family, and he makes it clear that he would prefer to live his life with a similar life style as Lydia and Gerald.
“They eat appreciatively, commenting on the tenderness of the meat, the freshness of the beans. His own mother would never have served so few dishes to a guest. She would have kept her eyes trained on Maxine’s plate, insisting she have seconds and then thirds.” (pg.133)
Food represents the differences between Indian and American culture.
It also symbolizes Gogol and Sonia’s loss of the Indian culture due to Americanization.
A connection between families to create a relationship/bond with each other.
Food is an indicative of the importance of embracing culture in order to determine the identity.
Full transcript