by Jhumpa Lahiri
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Think back on all your favorite family memories. We're betting (and we think it's a safe bet) that food was involved. Whether it's ham on Christmas, turkey on Thanksgiving, or a whole lot of candy on Halloween, food plays an important role in fun, family, and culture.
The first scene of The Namesake is the perfect example. Ashima attempts to recreate a snack that is popular in India, because she is homesick for the life she left behind. The problem is, she can't quite get that snack right, which shows us just how far from home this woman is.
That's not the only time that food goes to show a connection or disconnect between a character and his or her culture. Throughout the novel, food is an important way that Bengali culture is preserved in the Ganguli home. Gogol's first taste of solid food, for example, is during his annaprasan, a ceremony marking his sixth-month birthday. The last chapter of the novel opens with Ashima cooking croquettes, reminiscing about how her children used to help her make croquettes when they were younger. These moments remind us how important food is, of course, but they also remind us how important the Gangulis are to each other, too.