by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Namesake Theme of Home
How do I get home? That's one question Gogol can't seem to answer. He is never quite at home – not at Maxine's, not at his house on Pemberton Road, and not in Calcutta, either. And he's not the only one who's having trouble finding a place to put his feet up. The characters of The Namesake all seek to create homes for themselves, and the houses they live in reflect their personalities. The rich Ratliffs live in a lavish mansion. Gogol's bachelor pad is spare and, frankly, depressing. The Gangulis' first apartment is small and cramped, but filled with love. If a home reflects identity, it's no wonder Gogol has trouble finding and creating a lasting one. Plus, it makes it all the more fitting that he chooses to be an architect. If he can't find a home, he might as well build one.
Questions About Home
- Of all the homes in the novel, which one best fits its inhabitants? Gogol's bachelor pad? Dimitri's messy apartment? The Ganguli house on Pemberton Road?
- What do these homes say about their inhabitants, and about their tastes, relationships, or values?
- In what house do you think Gogol feels most at home? Does this change over the course of the novel?
- Do you think Ashima and Ashoke are successful in making a home in the United States? How so? Or do you think they fail miserably?
Chew on This
In The Namesake, the décor of a home speaks volumes about its inhabitants, telling us everything we need to know about personality, relationship status, class… the list goes on.
By the end of the novel, the house on Pemberton Road has become a real home for the Gangulis, reflecting the years they lived together and apart as a family.