What Are External Factors 'Divided In The Namesake'?

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As spoken by Albert Camus, “he who despairs of the human condition is a coward, but he who has hope for it is a fool”. In The Namesake, the four protagonists despair their dividedness between their two spheres of existence, whilst foolishly maintaining the sense of hope that external factors can fill this gap in their identities. Lahiri synchronically evaluates the various characteristics that define this human essence such as love, family and growth, by transporting the reader through key moments in the Gangulis’ lives. The human condition and culture are interdependent, as culture is the factor that defines the barriers of knowledge and understanding. Lahiri’s appraisal closely correlates the two, as one cannot experience the world unclouded…show more content…
As he navigates the various ups and downs of his life, he comes to realize that identifying oneself according to external factors such as romantic relationships, status, or even one’s name to fill his ethnic void, is not a sustainable way to feel secure. Not only does he base his self-worth on extrinsic things, Gogol also projects his various insecurities onto them. For example, he asserts that it is the name he has been given that is the source of his misery, instead of understanding that this sentiment is within his own inability to feel secure in his current identity. Ashima demonstrates the same inability. As she slowly distances herself from everything she considers part of her identity, she feels increasingly lost. Moving to America weakens her sense of being a Bengali. Both Gogol and Sonia moving away weakens her identity as a mother. When she is left with nothing that she initially considered to be part of herself, she feels empty. Lahiri’s portrayal of human nature suggests that the ultimate fault of the human psyche is the near inability to identify oneself with implicit characteristics rather than fleeting, extraneous things. However, she does note that this material self is an important reflection of one’s essential self. Gogol’s tendency to seek external gratification is a dominant aspect of his personality, and Ashima’s divide between two cultures is an example of her lack of internal security. Nevertheless, it is the mistaking of the material self for the essential self that facilitates their

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