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The Namesake

AP Literature Lit Circle Presentation

Serabi Rembert

on 18 January 2014

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Transcript of The Namesake

Jhumpa Lahiri
daughter of Bengali Indian immigrants
father worked at the University of Rhode Island
mother felt culture was important
family visits were planned to Calcutta (now Kolkata)
called by her pet name in kindergarten
always felt as if she were causing people pain by being who she was
made a cameo as "Aunt Jhumpa" in the 2007 film adaptation
Gogol struggles with his identity throughout the novel. Due to him having two cultures, he sort of has two identities. This is the base of Nikhil vs Gogol. The entire book deals with Gogol trying to decide who he really is and who everyone wants him to be.

Quote: He is afraid to be Nikhil, someone he doesn't know. Who doesn't know him …. It's a part of growing up, they tell him, of being a Bengali (Lahiri 57).

Each person of the Ganguli family has to adjust to American customs in some way. Ashoke and Ashima with adjusting to American life and Sonia and Gogol adjusting to their two cultures.

Quote: For being a foreigner, Ashima is beginning to realize, is a sort of lifelong pregnancy – a perpetual wait, a constant burden, a continuous feeling out of sorts. It is an ongoing responsibility, a parenthesis in what had once been ordinary life, only to discover that that previous life has vanished, replaced by something more complicated and demanding (Lahiri 49).

Love and Dissatisfaction
Gogol goes through many girlfriends and even a wife. However, each one goes terribly wrong. The end of each relationship was caused by some dissatisfaction of the person.

Quote: And yet the familiarity that had once drawn her to him has begun to keep her at bay. Though she knows it's not his fault, she can't help but associate him, at times, with a sense of resignation, with the very life she has resisted, has struggled so mightily to leave behind (Lahiri 235).

Background Information
1999: when she came into the literary the literary scene
instantly wrote some of the most phenomenal novels
she amazes readers with her writing style
her writing style keeps the readers in a curious state of mind
debut work, Interpreter of Maladies,
won several awards

Background Information
second publication, The Namesake
Namesake: first novel and spent several weeks on the New York Times bestseller list
books recognized as the
New York Times Notable Book,
Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year,
a New England book show selection,
Los Angeles Times best book,
and Los Angeles Times book prize Finalist.
Right now...
Lahiri lives in New York City with her husband and son
Historical Information

many connections between Lahiri's work in Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake
Three of the stories in Interpreter of Maladies deal with Indian encounters with Americans, or two cultures colliding into one another.

Space Shuttle Columbia disaster
invasion of Iraq
Human Genome Project completed
record heatwaves killed tens of thousands in Europe
China launched first manned space mission
Historical Information
wrote the novel from a personal standpoint
normally Lahiri has been known to write aabout smaller moments
Namesake described as more of a "big raucous epic"
2000 Pulitzer Prize interview: Lahiri explains her influences
ex: approach of life
way of thinking (about life)

"I think it's the small things, the smaller episodes
and details that I linger on and try to draw meaning
from, just personally. And so I think that's why
that's what I highlight in my writing maybe. "

-Jhumpa Lahiri

"It's what my world is, and what I've always been
aware of. My parents came from Calcutta. They
arrived in Cambridge, much like the parents in
the novel."

-Jhumpa Lahiri
Additional Information-Author Quotes
Jacob Harvey
Kacey Winston
Serabi Rembert
Alex Mobayyeni
Kate Mize
Mallory Lotz
Chapter 9
Gogol and Moushumi are eventually married with a traditional
Hindu wedding in New Jersey.
During wedding, Gogol thinks that two years ago, he might have been watching Moushumi get married to Graham, considering everything in their wedding was supposed to be for her marriage to Graham.
From the wedding, they receive $7,035. Moushumi keeps her maiden name and they settle into an apartment.
Gogol begins to find things from Moushumi’s life with Graham.
Gogol accompanies Moushumi to a conference in Paris. While there, Gogol wants to take Moushumi's picture, but she refuses because she doesn't want to look like a tourist.
They go to a party at Moushumi’s friends’ house.
Everyone discusses baby names, but Gogol has issues with the whole name thing, so he wanders around
Then Gogol helps Donald cook, and Donald makes a comment about Moushumi and Graham that makes Gogol uneasy.
Moushumi tells everyone how Gogol changed his name, and Gogol is ticked off that she shared his secret

Chapter 10
-Gogol changes his name to Nikhil
-almost their first anniversary, and Moushumi passes her oral exams for graduate school.
-Moushumi also finds out that she received a research grant but she rejects it and throws it away because she wants to be with Nikhil.
-Moushumi frequently sneaks out to eat alone or have lunch with her friend Astrid
-When her assistant dies, she sorts
through the mail, which was never
her job. She discovers a cover letter
and CV for a former flame, Dimitri
Desjardins – an older boy she met
while travelling to Washington DC
for a protest.
-Moushumi writes Dimitri's phone
number down.
-In her apartment, Moushumi finds
a gift Dimitri had sent her, Stendhal's The Red and the Black, which she reads from cover to cover.
-She calls up Dimitri and they start having an affair, and Nikhil doesn’t suspect a thing.

Chapter 11and Chapter 12
-Back home, Ashima is preparing for her Christmas Eve party.
-With her husband gone, she has sold the house and intends to return to India, where she will live for half of every year.
-Meanwhile, Gogol is at the train station waiting to be picked up.
- thinks of Christmas the year before.
-While on the train, Moushumi accidently spoke of Dimitri. -came clean and told Gogol of her affair.
-Moushumi had left the festivities early to clear out her stuff from the apartment, and their marriage is over.
-Back on Christmas Eve of the current year, Sonia picks up Gogol from the train station and brings him home.
-Soon the house is filled with people.
-Gogol goes upstairs to find his dad's camera so he can document the evening, but stumbles upon The Short Stories of Nikolai Gogol, the book his father had given him a long time ago.
-He sits down and reads.

Chapter 5

-summer 1986
-changes name to Nikhil
-love for architecture
-meets Ruth
-Ruth goes to Oxford
-Ashoke tells the story of Gogol

Chapter 6

-moves to NYC
-meets Maxine
-visits home on the way to New Hampshire
-Maxine asks about his name
-Ashoke goes to Ohio

Chapter 7

-Ashima addresses Christmas cards
-call from Ashoke at 3 p.m. then death
-Gogol flies to ohio
-10 days of mourning
-Maxine visits
-Gogol returns to NYC
-memory with Ashoke
Chapter 8:

- Maxine and Gogol break up
- visits home regularly
- celebrate Ashoke's birthday
-meets Bridget and has affair
- dates Moushumi
- Graham problems

Characters: The Gangulis

Ashima: The wife of Ashoke. She moves from
Calcutta to Boston with him
Ashoke: The husband of Ashima. He is a grad
student and a professor
Gogol: The son of Ashoke and Ashima.
He is named after an author and
struggles with his identity
Sonia: The sister of Gogol.

Characters: The Girlfriends

Ruth: Gogol’s first serious
girlfriend. They break up after
she comes back from Oxford.

Maxine: Gogol’s girlfriend in New York. He
spends a lot of time with her family. Opposite of
what his parents like

Moushumi: The Bengali girl from his childhood. Exactly what everyone wants. Does not end well.

received her M.A in English, Creative writing, and Comparative Studies in Literature and the Arts, +
received a Ph.D in Renaissance Studies from
Boston University
raised in Rhode Island
born in London, England in 1967

Characters: Extras

Ghosh: Man Ashoke meets on the train. Inspires Ashoke to leave India

Dmitri: The man Moushumi has an affair with… unemployed and unattractive

Graham: Moushumi’s first fiancé. He did not like visiting her family in India.

Chapter 4
-At Gogol’s fourteenth birthday party, he meets Moushumi
-Ashoke gives Gogol The Short Stories of Nikolai Gogol
-The family takes an eight month trip to Calcutta
-At school, the teacher taught the miserable life of Nikolai Gogol
-Gogol’s parents leave him home alone, he goes to a college party

Chapter 3
The family moves to the suburbs
Ashima is pregnant again
Gogol is starting nursery school
Sonali (Sonia) is born
The Ganguli’s start to assimilate to American culture
In sixth grade, Gogol goes on a field trip where he has to make rubbings of the gravestones.

Chapter 2

-They have a son, but are waiting for a letter from Ashima’s grandmother for his name.
-The letter never came, so they name him Gogol until it comes
-Gogol has a rice ceremony… he eats the rice but doesn’t pick anything
-Ashima’s father dies, so the three go to Calcutta.

Chapter 1

Ashima goes into labor and her and Ashoke go to the hospital
While in labor, Ashima thinks of when she first met Ashoke
Meanwhile, Ashoke is pacing in the waiting room where he starts to think of his accident
The nurse comes in the waiting room with news

Lahiri, Jhumpa. Interview by Jeffrey Brown. "The Namesake." PBS NEWHOUR. 16 Oct 2003. MacNeil/Lehrer Productions. Oct . Web. 11 Dec 2013. www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/entertainment/july-dec03/lahiri_10-16.html.

Lahiri, Jhumpa. The Namesake. New York City: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003. 1-291. Print.

"2003 timeline content."
FutureTimeline.net. Will Fox, 3 Dec 2013. Web.
11 Dec 2013. <www.futuretimeline.net/21stcentury/2003.htm>.

Voices from the Gaps . "University of Minnesota: Driven to Discover." voices.cla.umn.edu. N.p., 3 Dec 2012. Web. 11 Dec 2013. <voices.cla.umn.edu/artistpages/lahiri_jhumpa.php>.

“Pet names are a persistent remnant of the past, a reminder that life is not always so serious, so formal, so complicated,” (Lahiri 26).
“You remind me of everything that followed,” (Lahiri 124).
“Without people in the world to call him Gogol, no matter how long he himself lives, Gogol Ganguli will, once and for all, vanish from the lips of loved ones, and so cease to exist,” (Lahiri 289).
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