Wenqing ZhongProfessor MantzarisEnglish 1B 4184831 October 2016The OutsiderHumans are social animals. People tend to stay with their family, friends, or other people who share similar culture, tradition, and habits. It’s a hard time when someone can’t fit into their community and suffers from identity crisis. Gogol Ganguli, the main character in The Namesakeby Jhumpa Lahiri, is an American-born Bengali who has the same confusion and struggle as many immigrants do. Perplexed by his unusual name, Gogol feels lost about where hebelongs. In order to assimilate into the American culture, Gogol evades his Bengali roots by changing his name to Nikhil, whichreflects his struggle for cultural identity.Since Gogolis neither an American name nor a Bengali name, Gogol feels isolated from his friends and family. When he was a child, Gogol liked his name and refused to use Nikhilas his school name in the kindergarten. “He is afraid to be Nikhil, someone he doesn't know. Who doesn't know him” (57). As a child, Gogol believed that the name represented his identity. If his name changed, he wouldn’t be himself anymore. Nevertheless, as Gogol grows up, he begins to dislike this name because his classmates and friends often make fun of it. Aside from that, in his high school English class, Gogol learns that Nikolai Gogol, the person who he gets the name from, is an eccentric genius whose death is grisly. Gogol feels embarrassed after knowing about his namesake. He complains to his parents for naming him after someone so weird. Due to his multicultural background, Gogol is sensitive about his cultural identity, which is why his name bothers him so much. “Not only does Gogol Ganguli have a pet name turned good name, but alsoZhong 1
a last name turned first name. And so it occurs to him that no one he knows in the world, in
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