Essay On America's Identity In The Namesake

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America’s Identity: Not as Simple as It Seems American. One word that describes over 300 million individuals. One word that includes a diverse mix of customs and traditions from nearly every region of the world. One word that has nothing to do with blood or ancestry, but instead, a set of shared ideals. But what does it actually mean to be an American? In The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri, Gogol ‘Nikhil’ Ganguli struggles to find the answer to this question. Born in America to Bengali parents, he is officially an ABCD, an ‘American-born confused deshi’. Throughout the novel, Gogol is torn between Indian and American culture, each wanting to pull him in a separate direction. He changes his name to Nikhil, in order to sound more “American”, but…show more content…
The reason for his struggle stems from his name. Not only does Gogol “have a pet name turned good name, but also a last name turned first name. And so it occurs to him that no one he knows in the world, in Russia or India or America or anywhere, shares his name. Not even the source of his namesake.” (Lahiri 78). Without his name tieing him to any specific culture, Gogol feels lost and foreign, not only in America, but in the whole world. In an attempt to get rid of his problem, and to tie himself to American culture, Gogol changes his name to Nikhil, the good name originally chosen for him by his parents. Even though the name Nikhil is Indian, and therefore foreign, name changing has been a rite of passage for many immigrants in the United States and it is still a way for him to participate in the American experience. But even after changing his name and fully embracing American culture, Gogol still feels foreign. After his father dies, Gogol is forced to enter back into the world he has tried to avoid for most of the novel and realizes he was living the American experience all wrong. Instead of assimilating into American culture, he should have incorporated it into the ethnicity that he

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