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The Namesake

The Namesake

by Jhumpa Lahiri

Identity Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #10

Moushumi has kept her last name. She doesn't adopt Ganguli, not even with a hyphen. Her own last name, Mazoomdar, is already a mouthful. With a hyphenated surname, she would no longer fit into a window of a business envelope. Besides, by now she has begun to publish under Moushumi Mazoomdar, the name printed at the top of footnoted articles on French feminist theory in a number of prestigious academic journals […] (8.21)

For Moushumi, identity issues as a Bengali-American are even more complicated because she is a woman. For her, naming has a gender angle. Tradition says she should change her name to her husband's, but she doesn't want to do so, and in this case, she is bucking both Bengali and American tradition. She is quite the rebel, that Moushumi.

Quote #11

"There's no such thing as a perfect name. I think that human beings should be allowed to name themselves when they turn eighteen," he adds. "Until then, pronouns." (10.113)

Gogol's attitude toward names is even more radical than his parents, who stick with the Bengali custom of pet names until they decide on a formal name. He seems to think that you can't know who you are until you're at least eighteen, so why have a name before then? This implies, of course, that a name has something to do with who you are. Do you put as much stock in names as Gogol does?

Quote #12

Without people in the world to call him Gogol, no matter how long he himself lives, Gogol Ganguli will, once and for all, vanish from the lips of loved ones, and so, cease to exist. Yet the thought of this eventual demise provides no sense of victory, no solace. It provides no solace at all. (12.24)

Gogol's identity is closely tied to his name. By the end of the novel, the idea that there might be a time where no family members will be around to call him "Gogol" saddens him. Maybe he likes that name a bit more than he realized, not because of how it sounds, but because of who calls him that.

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