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The Namesake

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Sarah Rote

on 24 September 2013

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Transcript of The Namesake

Page 18, Paragraph 2
Ashoke was just in the train wreck. He is lying down, injured, invisible to the rescuers. He lifts his hand, with a page of "The Overcoat". The page drops and catches the rescuers eye
This passage is significant because Ashoke believed the page of "The Overcoat" saved him. Therefore he decides at the last minuteto name his son Gogol after the author of "The Overcoat," Nikolai Gogol.
Gogol is set up on a date with Moushumi. They get married within a year.
Moushumi has an affair that leads to a divorce.
Ashoke Ganguli dies of a sudden heart attack.
Gogol begins the book his father gave him by Nikolai Gogol—his namesake
Throughout the book, the narrative mainly follows Nikhil's life and experiences. Also the detail allows you to feel like you are in Nikhil's shoes and you can empathize with him.

The Namesake
Boston: First home in America, but is it really home?
Significance- A new life. It represents general change for the Gangulis.
Author's Background
Jhumpa Lahiri was born in London and brought up in South Kingstown, Rhode Island.
Literary Techniques



By: Jhumpa Lahiri
Gogol is born and is named after his father's favorite author Nikolai Gogol
Sonali is born
When he goes to college, Gogol changes his legal first name to Nikhil and effectively reinvents himself.
Key Symbols and Themes
Gogol dates Maxine and loves her easy-going lifestyle and Americanism.
Jhumpa's mother wanted to raise her children to be Indian and she learned about her Bengali heritage at an early age
After Gogol meets Maxine, he realizes that the life she lives, a carefree and laid-back one, is the kind of life that he truly desires, not one of rigid culture and tradition like his parents sought.
Insight to Gogol (AKA Nikhil)
The book changes back and forth between whose perspective is being narrated. However, it most often focuses on Gogol, so the reader gains a deep insight of his mind and emotions.
The reader feels empathy for the Ganguli family. Every adolescent has suffered from an identity crisis at some point and can relate to Gogol. The death of the father Ashoke was devastating both to the family and the reader.
In the beginning, a train crash almost took Ashoke's life. This later affects him by giving him nightmares, and it also indirectly influences his decision when he names his son at the hospital.
Since Gogol grows up influenced by two vastly different cultures, he can never fully associate himself with either of them. This is a constant struggle in his life and leads him to change his first name to Nikhil.
Lahiri graduated from South Kingstown High School and later received her B.A. in English Literature from Barnard College in 1989
She received multiple degrees from Boston University: an M.A. in English, an M.A. in Creative Writing, an M.A. in Comparative Literature and a Ph.D. in Renaissance Studies.
Gogol's Adult Life
Ashima's arranged marriage will bring her to America, which will lead to much unhappiness for her. It sets up the conflict between keeping the old traditions and conforming to America.
Gogol's and Sonia's mother
The Main Character...
Important Passages
Gogol dates Ruth
Oldest child of two Indian immigrants
Sonia is marrying the man she loves, while Gogol discovers the book that lead to his name. She has always been relatively confident in her identity while Gogol took much longer to come to terms with himself.
Gogol is always self conscious and confused with who he is. His parents stringently follow Bengali tradition, and his mother never sees herself as an American. Gogol grew up among other Americans and sought to fit in, just like every adolescent desires.
Lahiri took up a fellowship at Provincetown's Fine Arts Work Center, which lasted from 1997-1998
rejects his own customs
The greatest source of Ashima's unhappiness is her homesickness and nostalgia. Living in America, Ashima never feels comfortable, and constantly longs to be back home in Calcutta.
Growing up, Gogol does not know how to identify himself as an Indian American with a Russian first name
Ashima marries Ashoke Ganguli and moves to Massachusetts with him
In 2001, Lahiri married a journalist named Alberto Vourvoulias-Bush
changes his name to Nikhil
Lahiri has been Vice President of the PEN American Center since 2005
Lahiri has taught creative writing at Boston University and the Rhode Island School of Design.
Ashima finds it hard to adjust to life in America and feels lost without her family
Yale graduate
Columbia Graduate
Jhumpa's work mostly concerns the lives of Indian-Americans, particularly Bengalis
Gogol finds out about his father's train accident and the significance of his namesake to his father
Gogol's little sister
Page 168, Paragraph 6
"And then the young woman tells her that the patient, Ashoke Ganguli, her husband, has expired."
This is where the reader finds out the father has died. It is such an abrupt event that it catches the reader off guard. The passage reflects how life can be gone so suddenly. The death also causes the eventual break up of Maxine and Gogol.
Page 193, Paragraph 1
The passage is the start of Gogol and Moushumi's first date in the East Village. This is where they meet for the first time. Gogol describes Moushimi for the first time in this passage.
The passage starts Gogol on a journey that will lead to heartbreak. Gogol describes Moushumi in such eloquent ways. Sadly, beneath her glasses and beautiful face lies a cheating wife who will later crush Gogol's heart. This was the first date of Gogol's first marriage that led to his first divorce and first cheating lover.
Volunteered at the local library
Cheated on Gogol with a guy named Dimitri
Fluent in french
Knew Gogol as a child but ignored him until they were set up by parents
Graduate student at NYU working for a PhD in French literature
Wants a life just like Donald and Avid's: simple and American
Earned a PhD in fiber optics at MIT in Boston
College professor
Died suddenly of a heart attack
New Hampshire- a vacation within a vacation
Significance- opens Gogol's eyes to a new kind of freedom and the very different lifestyle of Maxine while clouding his sense of vision of the outside world, building up to the unseen death of his father
Calcutta: Where it all began
Significance- traditional and unchanging place, full of family, cultural norm for the Gangulis compared to strange America; frequent destination for months-long trips
New York: Gogol's second home in America
Significance- Represents Gogol's identity as an American since his parents feared and avoided the giant metropolis
consoled Ashima after Ashoke's death and helped her get accustomed to single life
Believed that Ashoke alluded to her about his own death by leaving her alone by accepting the professor job at MIT
Likes to host parties
supports her keeping her indian customs, contrary to Gogol's wishes
stuck between Amercan and Indian
befriended many Bengalis everywhere she went
sruvived a traumatic train accident that inspired Gogol's name
identified herself more easily as an American compared to her brother
The Train Crash
Maxine's Life
Internal Confusion
Nostalgia and Tradition
Opening Scene
Closing Scene
Main Conflict
Genre- realistic fiction
Year of publication- 2003
Point of view- third person
Possible theme- cultural and personal identity
Sierra Annand
By: Sarah Rote
Mike Mayer
Chris Mitchell
Dave Dagessian
Brendan Bradley
Zach Chandlee

Gogol's second girlfriend
Very laid back
Represents Gogo's view of America as a great country
Full transcript