Mercurial Essays

Free Essays & Assignment Examples

The Namesake Review; Transnational Migrants and the Hybrid Cultural Phenomena

THE NAMESAKE REVIEW TRANSNATIONAL MIGRANTS AND THE HYBRID CULTURAL PHENOMENA PREFACE The namesake is a touching story narrating the life of an Indian couple that migrated to the United States during the last 25 years of the 20th century. I was inspired by the profound and warm touch of how the author deliberately telling story. The beautiful language and the thoughtful phrases the author used in weaving the efforts of the immigrants, the happiness they try to build in their new living environment and also the inevitable sadness that instantly approached, have ensured me that this story is worth stressing crucial notions on my final paper.

My exchange student friend, an Indian girl from University of California, Berkeley, Kumar Kristy, once said to me “My family and I cried when we watched the film…the story is so similar to us. ” At first, I did not understand why Kristy had to be so sensitive when talking about the film. After I spent time studying the story in depth, I have found that living in a place where one differs from others, in one or more context such as different in appearances, cultures, traditions, and having distinctive way of life, is not easy.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

Throughout the book, I have discovered the main characters’ attempts, both in maintaining their native identity, and also running away from one’s origins in order to fit perfectly in new environments. I have realized how important transnational issues of migrants in the race, religious, and cultural context studied in class could help in explaining migrants’ lives. Having an opportunity studied in the class where hundreds of notions are raised and refined through the significant lens of the Nation, the State and Transnationalism, has considerably made the story even more thoughtful from my perspective.

The differences between the two cultures of the Namesake’s main characters are impressively embroidered in the continued scenes; from the moment they entered the United States, had children, until the moment when one of them is forever departed. The subject “The Nation, the state and transnationalism” together with the namesake story enhances my perspectives on the significant matter of the world that I have never tended to touch on before. INTRODUCTION The Namesake is the novel of Jhumpa Lahiri written in 2003 and was later made into a film directed by Mira Nair in 2006.

The Namesake depicts the 2 generations of Bengali, Indian family lives as immigrant of the United States. The story is mainly about a small family, making the voyage between two worlds; from Calcutta, the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal to Cambridge; the capital of Massachusetts, the United States of America. Ashima and Ashoke Ganguli, a Bengali couple migrated to Cambridge after their arranged marriage, leaving behind their family in Calcutta. Ashoke, at that time, was the doctoral candidate in electrical engineering at MIT, they both live in a small flat nearby Ashoke’s college.

Despite Ashima’ tight origins bond, she tries to adjust to a new life to new home, as there are no other choices but to make a living with her husband. After a while, they are blessed with two children; one son, Gogol and one daughter, Sonia. Although Gogol and his sister were raised up with the assimilation of Indian culture given by his parents, who did not mind their son’s American disposition, they become typical American teenagers and have, to some degree, lost their cultural Indian identity.

The story was centered at Gogol, named after Russian author Nikolai Gogol, who wants to fit among his fellows in New York despite his Family unwillingness to let go of traditional ways. His parents struggle to understand his modern, American perspectives on dating, marriage and love. Gogol tries to maintain distance away from his origins, and his parents by having American girlfriends and taking college years in New York in order to be away from home.

He even changed the name given by his father that is meaningful to his father’s life. In the end, after his father’s death, Gogol somehow reappraised himself about he being run away from who he really was. The Namesake is the story that reflects how migrants adjust themselves to the new sphere of experiences and new fields of social relations. How differences of cultures, traditions and religions simply shape their lives, and also cause conflicts within family. The story emphasizes on migrants’ cultural aspect of transnationalism.

As mentioned in the Preface, I would categorize migrants into two, first is the primary generation of migrants that try to maintaining their native identity while living in the new environment, and second is the subsequent generation that run away from one’s native origins in order to fit perfectly in new environment. The case study of “Ashima in maintaining her identity” and the case study of “Gogol in running away from his own identity” will be analyzed with articles and theories studied in class.

The reader will witness the differences in cultures and the struggles to find ones’ own individual spaces and identities across continental divided in the case study of Ashima The concept of social field will be applied and her strong ways of belonging and how it was created. Eventually, the case studies will prove the hypothesis, “what weaves migrants’ identity after they migrated to the new home, could they be shaped through their interaction within the new environment? The case study of Gogol will be studied in order to prove whether the second generation migrants, who are confined primarily to certain groups and, physically and emotionally rooted in the United States, tend to escape or hide their identity because they merely lack the language, cultural skills, or desire to live in their ancestral homes. The data will be acquired from both the novel and the film in studying the traits of the actors for the better understanding of migrants’ thoughts and feelings.

The story will be studied only the paradigmatic cases as significant aspects of transnational issues of each scene will be pointed out and analyzed in its relationship between migrants and transnational studies. Transnational studies and migrants The “nation” in transnational usually refers to the territorial, social, and cultural aspects of the nations concerned. Transnational process is the work of the “state” is the guardian of national borders, the arbiter of citizenship, and the entity responsible for foreign policy (Kearney 1995:273).

A transnational perspective invites us to think about how the categories of global and local or the nation-state change when they are linked to particular types of territory or space. It pushes us to confront how taken for granted categories, such as citizenship and identity, change when they are constituted across space (Khagram and Levitt 2008:4). In this paper, the writer will focus on the cultural aspect of migrants. Terms of cultural engagement are produced in a certain way. The representation of difference must not be hastily read as the reflection of pre-given ethnic or cultural traits set in the fixed tradition.

Actually, the social difference, from minority perspective, is a complex, on-going negotiation that seeks to authorize cultural hybridities that emerge in moments of historical transformation. This process conveys the immediate access to an originary identity or a received tradition (Bhabha 1994:334). According to Arjun Appadurai (Appadurai 1991:50), ethnoscape means the landscape of persons; tourists, immigrants, refugees, exiles, guest-workers, and other moving groups make up the shifting world in which we live.

It does not mean that stable communities and network of kinship, friendship, work and leisure, as well as of birth residence, and other filiative forms, exist no more. But as more persons, and groups deal with the realities of having to move or the fantasies of wanting to move, the writer tries to say that, this twist stability is everywhere hastened by human motion in the shifting world. Transnationalization of labor is still using the language of immigration to describe the process where the entry of people from poorer, disadvantaged countries in search of the better lives that the receiving country can offer.

The cosmopolitan society can now be explained on the basis of the post-national distribution of labor and wealth. From the social scientist’s point of view, economic rationality encourages family emigration or the political rationality that invites foreign capital, but from the anthropologist’s view, cultural logics that make these actions thinkable, practicable and desirable is primarily concerned, which are embedded in process of capital accumulation (Ong 1999:448).

The global population movements signifies the increase inequalities on a world scale and the differences between the sparsely populated wealthy states of the North and the densely populated poor states of the South will lead to new mass migrations from the overpopulated regions with their tempting standard of living (Beck 2000:226). One persuasive reason why Ashima decided to move to America with Ashoke is because she knows that she could pursue the better standard of living there. Ashima’s first impression of Ashoke was when she saw Ashoke’s sneakers at her house.

She had never seen any shoes like this in Calcutta before; she likes Ashoke even before she met him. Ashima decided to take a journey with Ashoke, she worked at the library at Ashoke’s college, while Ashoke was offered as professor’s assistant after his graduation. They earn enough money to buy a house, a car, and give education to children. Although geography of money is considered as the primary reason for migrants to seek the best opportunity at working, major cities have emerged as a strategic site not only for global capital but also for the transnationalization of labor and the formation transnational identity (Sassen 1998:75).

Migrants that will be studied throughout this paper are typologyzed on degrees of mobility relating to their transnational practice. The Indian family is conceptualized as those who “mainly stay in one place of immigration but engage people and resource in a place of origin…transnational infrastructure and their impacts among migrants vary with regard to a host of factors, including family…communication and media networks… ” (Vertovec 2009:19)

It is also important to know the scenario of the namesake story in how a world is expanding, and contracting in globalization and nationalization. Methodological nationalism allows us to see an interconnected realm of cross border relationships. The period of the story is identified during 1946-1989. The namesake is the story happened during the cold war, when modern Europe and United States had developed national identities and modern states within their own territorial confines rather than in relationship to a global economy and flows of ideas. In the United States, despite massive efforts at assimilation, the previous waves of immigrants settled in urban areas maintained their national identities, although their cultural practices were increasingly similar to their working class neighbors”(Wimmer and Glick Schiller 2003:112-113). In other words, American immigrants still maintain their native cultures despite American cultural dominance. Understanding Diaspora

We use Diaspora provisionally to indicate our belief that the term that once described Jewish, Greek, and Armenian dispersion now shares meanings with a larger semantic domain that includes words like immigrant, expatriate, refugee, guestworker, exile community, overseas community, ethnic community. Diaspora is constituted the transnational moment that includes massive and instantaneous movements of capital; the introduction of “aliens” cultures through the practice of “media imperialism”; issues of the double allegiance of populations and the plural affiliations of transnational corporations.

Diasporas signifies transnationalism because they embody the question of borders. They imagine nation-state and represent itself as a land, a territory that function as the site of homogeneity, equilibrium, and integration where the hegemony–seeking national elites always desire and sometimes achieve. In a such territory, differences are assimilated, or destroyed to be demarcated by boundaries that they enable the nation to acknowledge the differences within itself, while simultaneously reaffirming the privileged homogeneity of the rest, as well as difference between itself and what lies over its frontiers (Toloyan 1991:232).

In reality, there are significant Bengali communities beyond South Asia; some of the most well established Bengali communities are in the United Kingdom and United States. In the USA there are about 150,000 living across the country, majority of who are living as foreign workers. Bengali Muslims (native to Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal) are enterprising people who can be found in nearly every corner of the globe, and in capacities as diverse as students, professionals, and day laborers. The case study of Ashima ETHNIC IDENTITY The Letters as the ongoing communication between migrants and families in homelands

As the story happened during the mid to the late of the 20th century, I could scope the case study of Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli in the view of “old migrant transnationalism” of which their social patterns and practices to the Americas could be attested to kinds of transnational connections such as families were spilt between the countries of origin and destination, yet strong emotional ties were maintained, a considerable number of migrants returned to their homeland, or undertook some kind of movement back-and-forth between the two contexts over extended periods of time, strong long-distance networks were created and maintained; facilitating chain migration, and the ongoing communication between migrants and families in homelands was maintained, particularly through letters (Vertovec 2009:14).

During that period, shows significant difference from the present time, which is the absence of advance in telecommunications and electronic technology that are widely used as way communication such as cheap calls and Internet today. Ashoke decided to continue his engineering studies at MIT. He came back to India and married Ashima. After they had moved to Cambridge, they had their first child named “Gogol”. For many times, Ashima complains about her life in America, the conflicts in culture, the difference in ways of life and her loneliness, that keeps pushing her to give up and go back to her homeland. This kind of circumstance happens when Ashima began her living in Cambridge. Letter was her most convenient way in communicating back home since the calls are expensive. I can’t do this” she tells Ashoke “Not here, not like this”. “I don’t want to raise Gogol alone in this country. It’s not right. I want to go back”…Once or more than one occasion he has come home from the university to find her morose, in bed, rereading her parents’ letters…He puts an arm around her but can think of nothing to say, feeling that it is his fault, for marrying her, for bringing her here. (Lahiri 2003:33) Ashima imagines it would be better for her to raise Gogol in Calcutta where she is surrounded by her family and relatives. She thinks of Bengali’s traditions, the warmth of family sphere that she could not acquire in America. Therefore, she writes a letter to homeland.

When Gogol turns four, she drops him off and fetches him from the university-run nursery school…to avoid being alone at home she sits in the reading room of the public library, writing letters to her mother, or reading magazines or one of her Bengali books from home. (Lahiri 2003:50) In several times, Ashima witnesses the loneliness as if she is the only person living in a strange place, and surrounded by strangers. Ashima writes letters to her family and reads Bengali books in order to make an escape to her homeland. It is possible to explain such behavior of migrants who tend to live in two countries in terms of their routine activities, to maintain their lives abroad in this way, While these activities of immigrants and refugees across national borders reinforced bonds between the respective communities, they lacked the elements of regularity and routine involvement.

Few immigrants actually lived in two countries in terms of their routine daily activities. While most dreamed of going back one day, this long-term goal was countermanded by the concerns and needs of their new lives, but, for many, eventually faded away. (Portes, Eduardo Guarnizo and Landolt 1999:280). In studying the story that happens in a specific period of time, it is necessary to see whether such situation studied has some common elements with the presents’ in order to see how people connect to each other and how technology shift makes changes to diaspora’s consciousness nowadays. I propose that the type of consciousness of diaspora then and now cannot be generalized.

To distinguish migrants in the late 20th century and nowadays’, the territorial claims do not matter anymore for the presents migrants because of the technological advancement and the invention of Internet. According to Robin Cohen (1996, p. 516) develops Hall’s point with the observation that “transnational bonds no longer have to be cemented by migration or by exclusive territorial claims. In the age of cyberspace, a diaspora can, to some degree, be held together or re-created through the mind, through cultural artifacts and through a shared imagination”(Vertovec 2003). In other words, living far from homeland does not mean migrant has difficulty in connecting back home anymore, as they can economically and conveniently connect via cyberspace. As the technological mobility have changed, and a growing range of media reach across borders could make claims on our senses. Our imagination has no difficulty with what happens to be far away. On the contrary, it can often feed on distances, and on the many ways in which the distant can suddenly be close” (Hannerz 1996:237). The concept of “Social Field” Many times Ashima gets homesick; it is because she asserts her identification with a particular group back home as she has some sort of connection to a way of belonging through her memory, nostalgia or imagination. Ashima can enter social field whenever she needs to, by writing letters or meeting some Bengali friends who inhabit nearby.

Migrants sometimes has a lot of social contracts with people in their country origin but they do not identify at all as belonging to their homeland because, at the same, time they are engaged in transnational ways of becoming. By conceptualizing transnational social fields as transcending the boundaries of nation-states, we also note that individuals within these fields are, through their everyday activities and relationships, influenced by multiple sets of law and institutions. The daily rhythms and activities respond not only to more than one state simultaneously, but also to social institutions, such as religious groups, that exist with in many states and across their borders. (Levitt and Glick Schiller 2004:287)

No matter how long Ashima has moved to America and made her new living there, she still wears Sari, having Indian traditions such as Gogol and Sonia ceremony, arranging Indian style of marriage for Gogol and also having Bengali friends in all ceremony and parties. Once a year, she dumps the letters onto her bed and goes through them, devoting an entire day to her parents’ words, allowing herself a good cry. She revisits their affection and concern, conveyed weekly, faithfully, across continents- all the bits of news that had had nothing to do with her life in Cambridge but which had sustained her in those days nevertheless. (Lahiri 2003:160) Although it has been a while since she moved to Cambridge she could still feel the strong tie of her origins. In some degree, the sense of Americanness has absorbed within Ashima but her Indian’s way of belonging is deeply rooted. The concept of “Habitus” The popular image of immigrant is one of people who have come to stay, having uprooted themselves from their old society in order to make for themselves a new home and adopt a new country to which they will pledge allegiance” The studies of new immigrants of the post World War II were replete with descriptions of the propensity of the new comers to plant firm roots in their new world while maintaining vital ties to the old (Basch, Glick Schiller and Szanton Blanc 1994:262). Ganguli family often takes their trip back to Calcutta in every couple of year, or even more if there is a funeral, or marriage of their relatives. Once, they spent 8 months of vacation there.

It could be seen that “Migrant incorporation into a new land and transnational connection to a homeland or to dispersed networks of family, compatriots, or persons who share a religious or ethnic identity can occur a the same time and reinforce one another” ( Levitt and Glick Schiller 2004:284). Ashima’s way of life clearly depicts the sense of living one’s life that incorporate daily activities, routines, and institutions located in both in a destination country and transnationally. However, Ashima only could make a little connection with her family in Calcutta, through letters. She often imagines herself being with her big family and friends, but her dream was eventually faded away as she knows that her life already began in America. She has duties to raise up her children.

One day, Ashima could adjust herself to the new “home” and that feeling of returning to her homeland permanently was diminished. Instead of that, she merely thinks of a long holiday in Calcutta, only for her children to spend time with their Bengali family. Ashima’s way of becoming could be seen, for example: Before their trip back home, Ashima went shopping downtown Boston, spending every last penny for her cousins back in Calcutta. She forgot her shopping bags in the train, weeping as knowing that she can’t afford to go back and buy it again. Ashoke comes home and calls the MBTA lost and found; the following day the bags are returned, nothing missing.

Somehow, this small miracle cause Ashima to feel connected to Cambridge in a way she has not previously thought possible. (Lahiri 2003:43) I would consider such situation with the concept of “Habitus” that explains how everyday life of the migrants guides their personal goals and social interactions, The power of the habitus derives from the thoughtlessness of habit and habituation, rather than consciously learned rules and principles. Socially competent performances are produced as a matter of routine, without explicit reference to a body of codified knowledge, and without the actors necessarily ‘knowing what they are doing’ (Jenkins 1992:76)

The concept of habitus could be understood when the migrants are socially and culturally weaved through their life experiences. Their social positions are differently generated everyday through social practice in specific social fields. The concept “Home”: Can migrants develop new home where they feel secure and protected? “Home is a place of cultural sameness and that difference is to be found “abroad” has long been part of the common sense of anthropology… Home is a start place of difference”(Gupta and Ferguson 1997:93). Since borders are set up to define the places that are safe and unsafe, to distinguish us from them. A border is a dividing line, a narrow strip along a steep edge (Anzaldua 1987:44-45).

Therefore, migrants has their way of belonging of their origins that no place is like their homeland as citizens feel safe and protected living under state’s border, with rules, regulations, and welfare proposed by government and sovereignty. To conclude the case study of Ashima I would like to take the reader to the ending part of the book “the Namesake” to answer what weaves migrants’ identity after they migrated to the new home, whether it is their sense of being ethnics, that always bring them home, or it could be shaped through their interaction within the new environments. After Ashoke’s death, Ashima decides to go back to live in Calcutta. Ashima feels lonely and permanently alone. She sobs for her husband.

Ashima feels overwhelmed by the thought of the move she is about to make, to leave the city, that had been her home for thirty-three years and is now in its own way foreign after her husband died, and go back to India. For thirty-three years she missed her life in India. Now she will miss her job at the library, the women with whom she’s worked. She will miss throwing parties. She will miss living with her daughter, the surprising companionship they have formed, going the Cambridge together to see old movies at the Brattle, teaching her to cook the food Sonia had complained of eating as a child. She will miss the opportunities to drive … She will miss the country in which she had grown to know and love her husband.

Though his ashes have been scattered into the Ganges, it is here, in this house, and in this town, that he will continue to dwell in her mind. (Lahiri 2003:279) However, migrants or Diasporas could somehow and in some degree, develop their sense of “home” after they had spent some time adjusting themselves into the new living environment. For example, Ashima has developed a sense of Western feminism such as throwing parties with her Bengali friends. Global feminism has stood for a kind of Western cultural imperialism. The term “Global Feminism” has elided the diversity of women’s agency in favor of a universalized Western model of women’s liberation that celebrates individuality and modernity (Grewal and Kaplan 1994:252).

In America, Ashima has chances to do a lot of things women in Calcutta could not have opportunities to do in general, such as driving, throwing parties even though there is no special events. With several evidences, concepts, and methodologies proposed in the case study of Ashima, the writer could assume that what weaves migrants’ identity after they migrated to the new home, is the power of habitus that socially shaped Ashima to adopt new way of life through her routine activities, while her way of belonging is simultaneously maintained. However, Ashima always realizes that she is Indian, who persists in Indian culture and tradition despite her prolonged habituation in America. The case study of Gogol

To prove the hypothesis, ‘whether the second generation migrants, who are confined primarily to certain groups and, physically and emotionally rooted in the United States, tend to escape or hide their identity because they merely lack the language, cultural skills, or desire to live in their ancestral homes” I would like to take the reader to the events when Gogol rejects his Indian identity first. ABCD One day Gogol attends a panel discussion about Indian novels written in English. He feels obligated to attend. After a while, he was bored by the panelists, who keep referring to something called “marginality”. “Teleologically speaking, ABCDs are unable to answer the question ‘Where are you from? ’ ” the sociologist on the panel declares. ABCD stands for “American-born confused deshi”.

Deshi is a generic word for “countryman,” means “Indian”, his parents and all their friends always refer to India simply as desh. But Gogol never thinks of India as desh. He thinks of it as Americans do, as India. He has no ABCD friends at college. He avoids them, for they remind him too much of the way his parents choose to live, befriending with people not so much because they like them, but because of a past they happen to share. (Lahiri 2003:118) The American-Born Confused Deshi is a related term, which refers to people of South Asian origin, with first-generation immigrant parents and young South Asians of second or latter generations, who are both born and living in the subcontinent but tend to follow western lifestyle and values. Everyday religious and cultural practices, religious nurture at home and religious education at school and participation at formal places of worship all shape the identities and activities of the so-called second and third generations” (Larson 1989, Jackson and Nesbitt 1993) The Western and Secular education children get from school creates a clear distinction between them and their immigrant parents, including education in Western schools and the inculcation of secular and civil society discursive practices; youth dissatisfaction with conservative community leaders and religious teachers who do not understand the position of post-migrant youth, and immersion in American/European popular youth culture.

Hence, the young people raised among the diaspora tend to move towards dissatisfaction with conservative to those who do not comprehend their status of being the post-migrant youth. This is a fundamental issue in this case study as Gogol attempts to run away from himself as being an ethnic, refusing his own Indian culture and traditions, which depress his parents. Gogol could choose to maintain, or abandon his religion and cultural practice. In the United States, the researchers find that the transnational activities of the second generation are confined primarily to certain groups who are, by and large, physically and emotionally rooted in the United States and lack the language, cultural skills, or desire to live in their ancestral homes. (Levitt and Glick Schiller 2004:292)

This explains why Gogol sometimes recklessly addressing his parents in English though they continue to talk to him in Bengali or occasionally wanders through the house with his running sneakers on or at dinner he sometimes use a fork. However, The hypothesis casts doubts if lacking in migrants’ native language, cultural skills or the desire to live in their ancestral homes are only influences in making them maintaining distance of their origins. I propose that there are one or more factors persuading migrants concerning the unequal status between the American elites and “otherness” Because “The large Western city of today concentrates diversity.

Its space are inscribed with the dominant corporate culture but also with a multiplicity of other cultures and identities”(Sassen 1998:72) The dominant culture of the Americans who see themselves as the locals, elites and cosmopolitan, would see Gogol as “otherness”, therefore, this could be another reason why Gogol is running away from his origins and identity. Moreover, “the world racial system will therefore simultaneously incorporate and deny the rights, and in some cases the very existence, of the “others” whose recognition was only so recently and incompletely conceded” (Winant 2001:200). An example of event making Gogol feels inferior: Gogol met a woman name Pamela, she is a friend of Gogol’s girlfriends parents. Pamela asked at what age Gogol moved to America from India.

Gogol responded he was from Boston, but when he tells her the name of the suburb his parents live, Pamela shakes her head “I’ve never heard of that” “I once had a girlfriend who went to India. All I remember is that she came back thin as a rail” (Lahiri 2003:157) Gogol was furious about the woman’s disparagement on his race. The race concept will work at the interface of identity and inequality, social structure and cultural signification, that is why Gogol would like to be blended in American society, to make sure he has equal status as others Americans do. Global cultural diffusion relies not simply on the transmission of cultural “signals” from place to place, but also on two aspects.

First The relationship among different categories of recipients in host societies, particularly with respect to the distribution of social status among them, as well as the equality of opportunity to gain such status. Second, the ability of some groups of recipients to dominate or limit access to cultural imports, thereby “capturing” such imports for themselves. While limiting access to high-status hoods might only make them more attractive to lower-status consumers, there is a point of diminishing returns at which popular interest will peak and subsequently subside (Kaufman and Patterson 2005:398). To comprehend better of why Gogol behaves in a certain way, I would go back to the time when Gogol was in high school, when he only had few friends. Many times, Gogol was made fun of his Indian appearance and funny name. Men call the shadow prejudice, and learnedly explain it as the natural defense of culture against barbarism, learning against ignorance, purity against crime, the “higher” against the “lower” races” Gogol had been facing a vast prejudice of which bring the inevitable self-questioning, self-disparagement, and lowering of ideals which ever accompany repression and breed in an atmosphere of contempt and hate (DuBois 1996:220). I could assume that there are more than once reasons, not only the obstacles in language, cultural skills, or desire to praise one’s origins, but also the issue of race concept that will work at the interface of identity and inequality, social structure and cultural signification of which resulting in elites and otherness in society. “In order to make the Namesake’s review completed, the writer would like to analyze the end of the story, in addition to the two hypotheses already proposed. ” The 3 Events

After Ashima decided to sell the house and move back to Calcutta, Gogol realized that the house would be occupied by strangers, and here will be no trace that they were ever there, no house to enter, no name in the telephone directory. Nothing to signify the years his family has lived here, no evidence of the effort, the achievement it had been. Gogol wonders how his parents had done it, leaving their respective family behind, seeing them so seldom, dwelling unconnected. Gogol knows now that his parents had lived their lives in America in spite of what was missing, with a stamina he fears he does not possess himself. He had spent year maintaining distance from his origins; his parent, in bridging that distance as best they could.

And yet, for all his aloofness toward his family in the past, his years at college and then in New York…Only for three months was he separated by more than a few small states from his father, a distance that has not troubled Gogol in the past, until it was too late. (Lahiri 2003:281) After the death of his father, Gogol reappraises himself, of his behavior that discouraged his parents, avoiding Indian traditions by trying to be on his own and neglected his family. While Ashoke had to spend nine months at a small university somewhere outside Cleveland, Ohio as he and his colleague have received a grant funded to direct research for a corporation there, Gogol never planned to visit his father, until he realized when it was too late, when his father died because of heart attack. Gogol feels that his family’s life is like a string of accidents, unforeseen, unintended, one incident begetting another.

There are crucial events in his life that finally brings and shaped Gogol to who he is now, The first event had started with his father’s train wreck, paralyzing him for a year; later it was what inspired him to move as far as possible, to make a new life on the other side of the world. The second event was the disappearance of the name Gogol’s great-grandmother had chosen for him that was lost in the mail somewhere between Calcutta and Cambridge. This had resulted in the accident of his being named Gogol by Ashoke, his father. The name had been distressing him for so many years until Gogol decided to change his name after his graduation to Nikhil.

Despite Gogol’s attempt in correcting that error of his name, he had not been possible to reinvent himself fully, to break from that mismatched name. The third event is his marriage that had been the worst disaster of all. And yet these events have formed Gogol, shaped him, determined who he is. They were things for which it was impossible to prepare but which one spent a lifetime looking back at, trying to accept, interpret, and comprehend. Things that should never have happened, that seemed out of place and wrong, these were that prevailed, what endured, in the end. (Lahiri 2003:287) I could explain Gogol’s self reappraising by relating to Kim (1994:340)’s statement. Location in the interstices of Asia and America, of black and white, of cultural nationalism and feminism, of aesthetics and politics, makes it possible to view the world from several different vantage points at the same moment . All those mentioned three events has shaped Gogol when he looks at the world in a big picture, trying to blend his culture, his way of being, he finally stops running away from his origins, and accepts who he really is. I could propose that the contact between traditional symbolic systems and international information networks, cultural industries, and migrant populations do not diminish the importance of identity, national sovereignty, and the unequal access to knowledge and cultural capital (Canclini 1992:346), as they are inherited and deeply rooted in human beings.


I'm Belinda!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out