The Namesake

Gogol's Search for Greater Understanding College

Jhumpa Lahiri eloquently points out in her novel, The Namesake, “For his [Gogol’s] father had a point; the only person who didn’t take Gogol seriously, the only person who tormented him, the only person chronically aware of and afflicted by the embarrassment of his name, the only person who constantly questioned it and wished it were otherwise, was Gogol” (100). In this excerpt the reader explores the implications, consequences, and more of changing one’s legal name. Gogol Ganguli wishes to change his name to his intended good name, or legal name, Nikhil, though he is already eighteen. His father questions his motivations by asking who did not take his son seriously due to his name alone. Gogol, about to embark on a new life in college, wishes to do away with the name he hates and attempt to try on a new identity, one that he has complete control over. This sentence from the novel manifests the protagonist’s search for identity and understanding of self through name, culture, and society.

Gogol has always hated his name. He never understood why he, and American-born Bengali, was given the last name of a Russian author. In Bengali tradition, a pet name means nothing; a good name holds the meaning for the world. A good name...

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