The story of immigrants coming to America in search of the American dream of wealth and success is a familiar one. In The Namesake, another layer is added to the story: class. The main Indian-American characters grow up with parents who are educated professionals; they graduate from Ivy League universities and enter similarly elite careers such as architecture and academia. But these characters often envy the lifestyle of their Anglo-American peers, who come from well-to-do families, who have never had to pull themselves up by their bootstraps the way their Indian parents have. Many of the characters (we're looking at you, Gogol) are acutely conscious of how possessions and property reflect class status.
Gogol and Moushumi's marriage fails because they have different attitudes toward money and class.
Although the Indian-American characters are encouraged by their parents to go to elite universities and enter lucrative professions, they are often embarrassed by their humble beginnings once they become successful.