Gogol’s is different. Part IV: The central conflict in the novel is identity. Throughout the story, Gogol struggles with his identity, because his parents are Bengali, and they attempt to instill the Indian ideals in him. These events lead to the internal conflict for Gogol. Lahiri writes that he participates in many tasks that his parents would not suspect. Gogol begins “smoking pot” or “driving to a neighboring town to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show ” (93). Due to the oddity, Gogol rejects his name and changes it to Nikhil. He feels like he reinvented himself, but realizes that everyone knows him as Gogol, and he remains unable to escape for his pet name. Gogol’s father aids him by explaining the reasoning behind his name, and Gogol comprehends the significance of his name. Gogol believes his name reminds his father of the tragedy, but Ashoke Ganguli states that “ [it] remind[s] him of everything that follows” (124). This portion of the novel leads to Gogol’s new perspective on his name and leads to the climax. Gogol’s internal conflict is resolved towards the end of the book when he begins to embrace the oddity of his name and culture with his new perspective due to Ashoke explaining its importance. Part V: Exposition “Ashima had never heard of Boston, or of fiber optics. She was asked whether she was willing to fly on a plane and then if she was capable of living in a city characterized by severe, snowy winters, alone” (9). Rising Action “But Gogol sounds ludicrous to his ears, lacking dignity or gravity. What dismays him most is the irrelevance of it all” (76). Climax “And then the young woman tells her that the patient, Ashoke Ganguli, her husband, has expired” (168). Falling Action “It had been on the train, exactly a year ago, that he’d learned of Moushumi’s affair” (282). Resolution “He opens the book, glances at an illustration of Nikolai Gogol...turns to the first story. “The Overcoat”...[and] starts to read” (289-291). Part VI:
The central theme presents itself throughout the novel and is evident in the title too. Cultural criticism proves to be essential when attempting to identify the theme in the book. Throughout the book, the Ganguli family has trouble fitting in with the American culture and lifestyle. Gogol faces the most trouble because of the oddity of his name and his desire to be more American, since the American culture dominates his life from an early age and the Bengali lifestyle begins to fade away. When examining the novel through a cultural lens, varied perspectives on culture affect identity reveals itself as a theme. Gogol’s dilemma throughout the book displays itself as his desire to avoid the Bengali culture and live an American lifestyle. Gogol’s attempt to reinvent himself leads to his disconnection from his culture and parents. In his relationship with Maxine, Gogol appreciates her lifestyle and wishes his parents would be like that. Gogol realizes that Maxine’s parents “are secure in a way his parents will never be”(141).
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