The Namesake

Transnational and Trans-Cultural Identities in Jumpa Lahiri's The Namesake College

Jumpa Lahiri is an Indo-American writer who mainly writes about the experiences of the first-generation and second-generation migrants. Her first novel, The Namesake (2003) is a postcolonial novel that vividly portrays the transnational and trans-cultural experiences of Indo-Americans. The identities of its principal characters become fluid as a result of their migrant experience. This essay argues that the main characters of the novel, Ashoke, Ashima, Gogol, Sonia and Moushumi manifest that the construction and re-definition of their identities are the result of their transnational and trans-cultural experiences.

Before exploring how the transnational and trans-cultural experiences construct and re-define the identities of the principal characters of the novel, it is important to define the concept of identity. Identity is defined as: ‘the way in which an individual and/or group defines itself. Identity is important to self-concept, social mores, and national understanding. It often involves both essentialism and othering’ (Key Terms in Post-Colonial Theory, (n.d.)). First, this essay discusses how the transnational and trans-cultural experiences of the first-generation migrants such as Ashoke and Ashima construct and...

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