© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Namesake

The Namesake


by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Namesake Foreignness and 'the Other' Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #1

Ashima thinks it's strange that her child will be born in a place most people enter either to suffer or to die […] In India, she thinks to herself, women go home to their parents to give birth, away from husbands and in-laws and household cares, retreating briefly to childhood when the baby arrives. (1.4)

Apparently, giving birth is quite a different event in India. In fact, for Ashima, doing it the Indian way sounds kind of nice. At least she wouldn't be alone in a room full of strangers. Even the very beginning of life is different over in America.

Quote #2

In Bengali the word for pet name is daknam […] Every pet name is paired with a good name, a bhalonam, for identification in the outside world. (2.21)

The Gangulis' attitude toward names gets them into trouble with American bureaucrats, because in the States, everyone has to have a proper name. It sounds simple enough, but it throws a wrench in the Bengali tradition.

Quote #3

The occasion: Gogol's annaprasan, his rice ceremony. There is no baptism for Bengali babies, no ritualistic naming in the eyes of God. Instead, the first formal ceremony of their lives centers on the consumption of solid food. (2.65)

The Gangulis preserve some traditions in America, including the annaprasan. Why do you think they choose to keep this particular tradition, and let others go? Is it because they are still fairly new to America at this point, or is it because there is something special about the annaprasan?

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...