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The Namesake
The Namesake
by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Namesake Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Identity

In The Namesake, everybody is just a little bit lost. Or a lot lost, frankly. Practically every character struggles with his or her identity, because practically every character feels the tug and p...

Family

Since the main character of The Namesake is named after a Russian novelist, we'll take the liberty of recalling something that the great Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy wrote in Anna Karenina: "Happy...

Foreignness and 'the Other'

In The Namesake, characters are constantly making comparisons between Indian and American life. For Indian immigrants such as Ashima and Ashoke, many aspects of American culture are foreign to them...

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 o...

Love

Ah, romance. The Namesake is full of it, even if some of it is a bit dysfunctional. We see everything from one-night stands to steadfast marriages, and Gogol alone runs the gamut. We see love gone...

Contrasting Regions: India, United States, Europe

India, America, Paris, Venice. The Namesake globetrots with the best of them. Each region is described in great detail, so much so that you might feel like you're reading a travel guide. In additio...

Dissatisfaction

Happiness is elusive for the characters in The Namesake. Often, the characters' discontent is caused by the difference between their dreams and the reality they live in. For some, like Ashima, the...

Society and Class

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-Ameri...

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