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The Namesake Study GuidePart I: Jhumpa Lahiri, author of the Namesake, was born July 11, 1967, in London, England. Similar to Gogol Ganguli, she has a good name which is Nilanjana Sudeshna Lahiri. Lahiri’s parents moved from India to England and then to the United States, for a librarian position in M.I.T. As Lahiri grew up her parents were determined to help their children have pride in their cultural heritage. She became a writer after she graduated with a B.A. in English Literature and procured three master’s degrees and a doctorate. Lahiri’s first major work, Interpreter of Maladies, disscssed the issue of arranged marriage and other parts of indian culture. These topicswere further developed in the book, The Namesake, in which she analyzes the themes of personalidentity because of her experience as an immigrant and with the American lifestyle.Part II:Nikhil “Gogol” Ganguli, the son of two bengali immigrants, Ashima and Ashoke Ganguli. He also has one sister named Sonia Ganguli, who supports Gogol as they separate from their bengali culture. Gogol grows up in a suburban town near Massachusetts, he begins to notice the differences between his parents’ culture and the place where he lives. Gogol starts to resent his name because of its oddity. In the novel, Lahiri depicts Gogol as "just shy of six feet tall, his body slender, his thick brown-black hair slightly in need of a cut. His face is lean, intelligent, suddenly handsome, the bones more prominent, the pale gold skin clean-shaven and clear" (98). The American culture lures Gogol away from the Bengali culture which reveals his personality as petulant and culturally confused throughout the book.Part III:Ashoke Ganguli, Gogol’s father, plays a pivotal role in the novel. He helps Gogol understand the truth behind his name. Ashoke Ganguli explains to Gogol about “the night that had nearly taken his life” and reveals the “book that had saved him” (123). Gogol finally understand the significance of his name and realizes the mistake he made. After explaining the events of the tragic accident, Gogol realizes the reason his father stubbornly sticks to indian tradition. When they begin to connect and understand each other, Gogol’s father dies before Gogol truly learns to appreciate his culture and namesake.Gogol meets Maxine at party which he attends with his friend. They converse about their lives and their backgrounds. Gogol instantly falls in loves with her. Maxine represents the division between Gogol and his family. Once Gogol commences his relationship with Maxine, the divide between him and his family begins too. He spends more time with his girlfriend than his parents. Ashima remains dissatisfied about Gogol’s relationship with Maxine and refuses to have her as her daughter in law, because she “was startled that Maxine addressed her as Ashima” (166). This quote exemplifies Maxine as the cause of the rift between the Ganguli family.
Maxine also represents the culture of the United States, because her lifestyle compared to Gogol’s is different.