The lived experience of the kids of first coevals migrators to which Jhumpa Lahiri belongs is characterized by their engagement in the American mainstream civilization available in the larger societal infinite, outside the limited, ‘sanctified ‘ household infinite. This their parents frequently disapprove. They, in their bend, disapprove of their parents ‘ propinquity to the hereditary ‘home ‘ civilization which the Indian American community attempts to retroflex in the new infinite. The household infinite and the community infinite, nevertheless, can non stay pure as alteration of topographic points necessarily brings in its train hybridisation. The birth of kids, which happens in the early portion of Jhumpa Lahiri ‘s novel The Namesake, initiates conflictual relationship in the household infinite. The mostly homogeneous civilization in the household, as we observe in the novel, gives manner to a heterogenous one, taking to differences of sentiment and a complex form of relationship.
This article explores the lived experience of diasporic topics as represented in Jhumpa Lahiri ‘s The Namesake ( 2003 ) . It will show how an person ‘s life gets necessarily mixed up – and messed up – with those of others in different infinites which lie in propinquity to each other and contribute to his/her individuality formation. The focal point will chiefly be on the relationship between the 2nd coevals Indian Americans and the household ( and in extension to the community ) infinite in which they find themselves. The word ‘space, ‘ as may be apparent, is used here in a theoretical sense and is differentiated from the word ‘place. ‘ The latter is used to mention to a geographical location, a territorial entity, while the former suggests a vigorous synergistic web of dealingss. A infinite is “ what Lefebre would depict as l’espace ve’cu, really lived and socially created spatial property, concrete and abstract at the same clip, the habitus of societal patterns ” ( Soja 17-18 ) . James Clifford, who borrows the phrase “ spacial pattern ” from Michel de Certeau ‘s book The Practice of Everyday Life ( 1984 ) observes that the word ‘space, ‘ which is ne’er ontologically given, is “ ramblingly mapped and corporeally practiced. An urban vicinity, for illustration, may be laid out physically harmonizing to a street program. But it is non a infinite until it is practiced by people ‘s active business, their motions through and around it ” ( Clifford 54 ) .
In fact, the construct of infinite is now considered to be really of import in Fieldss of cultural anthropology and societal scientific disciplines. It can every bit be applied to literary analyses. Foucault asserts that infinite is cardinal in any signifier of communal life and in any exercising of power. The undermentioned observation underlines the importance of infinite in human life:
The infinite in which we live, which draws us out of ourselves, in which the eroding of our lives, our clip and our history occurs, the infinite that claws and gnaws at us, is besides, in itself, a heterogenous infinite. In other words, we do non populate in a sort of nothingness, inside of which we could put persons and things. We do non populate inside a nothingness that could be colored with diverse sunglassess of light, we live inside a set of dealingss that delineates sites which are irreducible to one another and perfectly non superimposable on one another. ( Foucault 1967 )
Lahiri ‘s novel demonstrates the truth of the above statement. This article will seek to demo how the major characters in the fresh ‘live inside a set of dealingss ‘ and interact in a vigorous infinite.
The Namesake is a narrative of how Gogol Ganguli attains his individuality and self-fulfillment through his dialogue with different infinites. As he realizes, his ain household infinite is really constricted – it in consequence stifles his voice and destroys his freedom and bureau. His anguish and antipathy grows out of this because it prevents his close and intimate interaction with the mainstream civilization and attempts to restrict his cultural activities mostly to Indian American community. As he understands, this is a consecrated infinite and his parents implement its ‘sacred ‘ norms which relate them to the absent ‘home ‘ state and non to the present societal infinite. And therefore these norms, for Gogol and his coevals, are mostly irrelevant. So long as the parents, Ashima and Ashoke, were the two members in the household the pureness of the norms could be someway preserved to a certain extent. The birth of Gogol, nevertheless, brings in the first omen of danger for the Ganguli household. The hospital infinite becomes the first apparent site of opposition to the household and community pattern followed by the Bengalis. Ashima and Ashoke wait for a missive from her grandma that will transport the name of the new-born babe, therefore certifying to the name the countenance of the household. This is frequently followed as a norm. “ Name callings can wait. In India parents take their clip. It was n’t unusual for old ages to go through before the right name, the best possible name, was determined ” ( Lahiri 25 ) . But since the missive incorporating the name does non arrive and the babe can non be released from the infirmary without a birth certification which must hold a name, the Gangulis are obviously in a quandary. The effort to reinscribe the old civilization in the new societal infinite is confronted with a crisis as the American societal infinite intervenes in the Indian American household infinite. Gogol, which was originally intended as a daknam, had to be finally accepted as a bhalonam ( both the Bengali words will be addressed in the following paragraph ) . The incomprehension of the Americans sing this appellative norm is reflected in the reaction of Mr. Wilcox, the compiler of hospital birth certifications, who tries to decode the norm and to assist out the household ( 27-28 ) .
In this connexion, Lahiri deals intricately with the Bengali usage of giving two names to a kid – bhalonam ( literally, ‘good name ; ‘ or formal name ) and daknam ( intending ‘pet name ‘ ) . The former is to be used in the public infinite: “ Every pet name is paired with a good name, a bhalonam, for designation in the outside universe. Consequently good names appear on envelopes, on sheepskin, in telephone directories, and in all other public topographic points ” ( 26 ) . The latter is used in the household infinite and in the association of close friends and associates. “ Pet names are relentless leftovers of childhood [ aˆ¦ ] these are the names by which they are known in their several households, the names by which they are adored and scolded and missed and loved ” ( 26 ) . In the diasporic infinite the fondness and love associated with the daknam is hankered after by the first coevals Indian Americans because the larger household in the Indian sense is non available. Indian American households are scattered all over the state and for all practical intent this community can non be a replacement to the community in the ‘home ‘ state, the images of which are invoked in the narrative “ Mrs. Sen ‘s ” included in Interpreter of Maladies ( 1999 ) .The community back place has a close web of confidant relationship which is frequently indicated by the big graduated table usage of the daknam. In such a state of affairs community relationship is privileged and individuality, which is celebrated in the West, is made subservient to the sentiment of the collectivity. In Ganguli household ‘s insisting on this subservience we find an effort to reinscribe the Indian cultural ethos in the new infinite.
Generational differences are therefore projected through appositions of the two societal infinites. For the first coevals immigrants like Ashoke and Ashima the alteration of geographical location is the first daze. Ashima, for case, brushs, after her reaching in the USA, the differences in the landscape – “ tonss of broken snow ” ( Lahiri 30 ) , “ the cold New England iciness ” ( ibid. ) , “ leafless trees with ice-covered subdivisions ” ( ibid. ) , “ non a psyche on the street ” ( ibid. ) , but more than that she realizes the strength of the loss of the household and community support. On the footing of her experience for the 18 months in the state she knows that it will be hard for her to convey up her kid in “ this alone state. ” Her gestation in the new infinite is of import for more than one ground. It signals the entry of a member of the 2nd coevals who will stand for a intercrossed coevals. He will resent his parents ‘ civilization and repent his name Gogol that will sound unfamiliar to others in the public infinites like school and college. Nevertheless it will take to the household formation – “ all of a sudden a household ” ( Lahiri 32 ) . It will be a household like that of Alan and Judy and their girls whose house they rented. Second, parturiencies of the birth metaphorically represent the parturiencies she undergoes for procedure of the birth of a ego that can get by with the new American infinite, absorbing the dazes in her journey for socialization that will at one phase do her articulation a library as a portion clip occupation. The socialization procedure is a long-drawn one, a procedure affecting new cognition formation against the overpowering background of memory of the recent yesteryear, of the old civilization and households and community. This cognition includes the trivial like “ Americans eat their poulet in its tegument ” ( 5 ) to the vital like how to raise kids in a alone state without the aid of household members. Third, Ashima associates the gestation with her ain status of being a ‘foreigner ‘ :
For being a alien, Ashima is get downing to recognize, is a kind of womb-to-tomb gestation – a ageless delay, a changeless load, a uninterrupted experiencing out of kinds. It is an on-going duty, a parenthesis in what had one time been ordinary life, merely to detect that the old life has vanished, replaced by something more complicated and demanding. Like gestation, being a alien, Ashima believes, is something that elicits the same wonder from aliens, the same combination of commiseration and regard. ( 49-50 )
Despite some socialization Ashima is in fact in the status of an exile in the sense Bharati Mukherjee, one of the first taking Indian American authors, uses the term. In her Introduction to Darkness, a aggregation of short narratives, she differentiates the ‘expatriates ‘ from the ‘immigrants. ‘ Immigration, harmonizing to her, has ‘exuberance. ‘ Immigrant experience is a series of reincarnations, deceases of earlier experiences followed by metempsychosiss full of promise. She hails immigrant Indianness as “ a set of fluid individualities to be celebrated ” ( Mukherjee xv ) . Exile, on the other manus, is a kind of inactive province ; it is a refusal to be amalgamated into the new society. An exile considers his or her stay in the new state as a impermanent affair and looks back to the ‘home ‘ state for emotional nutriment. Both Ashoke and Ashima at the minute are hence non in a place of ‘exuberance. ‘
Between 1968 and 2000, Ashoke and Ashima make some advancement sing their relation with the U.S. but they chiefly have non been able to travel beyond the Indian frame of head. While at Cambridge they ( peculiarly Ashima ) were neophytes, unable to settle down mentally. When they moved to the little university town outside Boston Ashoke was peculiarly aggregating to the academic infinite and through it to the national infinite. He got a new office “ with his name etched onto a strip of black plastic by the door ” ( Lahiri 48 ) and his name was printed under “ Faculty ” in the university directory. These are in a manner official avowal of one who in a certain manner belongs. One manner of happening connection is to buy a house which becomes a symbol of belonging. Gangulis excessively purchased a house at the Pemberton Road in a white vicinity with occupants like the Johnsons, the Mertons, the Aspris, and the Hills which is indication plenty of their credence in the secular civil infinite:
In the terminal they decide on a shingled two-story colonial in a late built development, a house antecedently occupied by no 1, erected on a one-fourth acre of land. This is a little spot of America to which they lay claim. ( 51 )
In the interim, their ties with the hereditary land Begin to weaken: “ [ A ] s their lives in New England crestless wave with fellow Bengali friends, the Numberss of that other, former life, those who know Ashima and Ashoke non by their good names but as Monu and Mithu, easy dwindle ” ( 63 ) . They are hence forced by the fortunes of their lives to distance themselves from the endearing, filiational household and community back ‘home. ‘ They easy but certainly allow themselves to travel towards a intercrossed cultural location:
They learn to roast Meleagris gallopavos, albeit rubbed with garlic and Cuminum cyminum and chili pepper, at Thanksgiving, to nail a garland to their door in December, to wrap woollen scarves around snowmen, to colourise boiled eggs violet and pink at Easter and conceal them around the house. For the interest of Gogol and Sania they celebrate, with increasingly increasing ostentation, the birth of Christ, an event the kids look frontward to far more than the worship of Durga and Saraswati. ( 64 )
Towards the terminal of the fresh Ashima ‘s alteration has been summarized in the undermentioned manner:
She has learned to make things on her ain, and though she still wears saree, still puts her long hair in a roll, she is non the same Ashima who had one time lived in Calcutta. She will return to India with an American passport. In her billfold will stay her Massachusetts driver ‘s licence, her societal security card. ( 276 ) .
It is, hence, a long journey for people like Ashima who encounter troubles in different infinites and undergo transmutation of individualities. With such advancement in attitude the chokehold on the kids is slackened and Gogol and Sania as persons in the household infinite experience much more incorporate to the household unit.
In the early old ages after the in-migration, it has been stated earlier, the chokehold on the immature members is normally really strong. The kids are acutely cognizant of their parents ‘ outlooks but are normally rebellious. Some like Moushumi internalise, with some component of force, the dichotomy between the outlooks and their involuntariness to give in to the cultural demands. The attendant schizophrenic disorder sometimes disintegrates them psychically. Gogol reacts against the parental influence but he seems to be more balanced than Moushumi whose despair is apparent in her ain sexual engagements with a great figure of spouses in Paris. It was as if she was taking retaliation upon herself. “ In retrospect she saw that her sudden deficiency of suppression had intoxicated her more than any of the work forces had ” ( 215 ) . She was drugged with a sense of ’emancipation ‘ from all constricting forces but in the procedure she besides acted, self-consciously, in a manner that about verged on harlotry:
With no vacillation, she had allowed work forces to score her in coffeehouse, in Parkss, while she gazed at pictures in museums. She gave herself openly, wholly, non caring about the effects. [ aˆ¦ ] She allowed the work forces to purchase her drinks, dinners, subsequently to take her in taxis to their flats, in vicinities she had non yet discovered on her ain. [ aˆ¦ ] There were yearss she slept with one adult male after tiffin, another after dinner. ( 215 )
This may be considered as the decomposition of a personality. Previously her rebellion was chiefly academic in nature. In Brown she majored in Chemistry which was in chase of her parents ‘ insisting but she besides double majored in French which was unknown to her parents. She approached Gallic as a manner of flight into a impersonal 3rd infinite:
Immersing herself in a 3rd linguistic communication, a 3rd civilization had been her safety – she approached Gallic unlike things American or Indian without guilt or scruple or outlook of any sort. It was easier to turn her back on the two states that could claim her in favour of one that had no claim whatsoever. Her four old ages of secret survey had prepared her at the terminal of college, to get away every bit far as possible. ( 214 ; accent added )
Paris provides her the coveted distance – a safety. “ Here Moushumi had reinvented herself, without scruples, without guilt ” ( 233 ) . She does non desire to be mistaken for a tourer in Paris because she feels that she belongs at that place. Robin E. Field considers her as an illustration of a “ planetary citizen ” ( 175 ) of an progressively borderless universe. He points out,
Moushumi ‘s determination to command her ain cultural individuality may good turn out to be the normative behaviour for the ulterior coevalss of immigrant households in the United States. As their direct connexion to certain roots diminishes and other cultural options are presented, these Americans will make their ain personal bricolage of assorted cultural stuffs in order to organize their individualities. ( Field 176 )
By contrast, Gogol ‘s journey is less disintegrating and at the terminal we find him traveling towards his household. He realizes that his ain individuality is elaborately linked up with the history of his household. Right from his early yearss he excessively has been rebellious. In ‘legal rites of transition ‘ he changes his name from Gogol to Nikhil which is in fact a manifestation of his protest. In the New Haven campus he is happy that cipher calls him Gogol. With the new name going familiar, “ it ‘s easier to disregard his parents, to tune out their concerns and supplications ” ( Lahiri 105 ) . In Acts of the Apostless of rebelliousness, he loses his virginity at a party. He has a short matter with a white miss called Ruth. His life at the residence hall at New Haven is one of throwing her cultural norms to the air current. This residence hall may be called, following Foucault once more, ‘crisis hetertopia ‘ ( normally prevalent in alleged crude society ) , which is described as “ privileged or sacred or out topographic points, reserved for persons who are, in relation to society and to the human environment in which they live, in a province of crisis: striplings, flowing adult females, the aged etc. ” ( Foucault 1967 ) . He says that get oning school in its 19th century signifier is one of the leftovers of these fast disappearance heterotopias. This is the site of first manifestations of sexual virility which were supposed to take topographic point ‘elsewhere ‘ instead than at ‘home. ‘ The first manifestations of Gogol ‘s bureau were found in a similar topographic point because he was off from place. He could populate in the residence hall in any manner he liked. This is a site from which he can run safely even in affairs sexual without any intervention from his household. Subsequently he has a more lasting matter with Maxine, another comfortable white miss, but someway he has been drawn towards his beginning, someway “ he is witting of the fact that his submergence in Maxine ‘s household is a treachery of his ain ” ( Lahiri 141 ) . Subsequently he agrees to day of the month Moushumi at his household ‘s insisting and besides marries her. This is another affair that influences their quite short matrimony.
Two specific events do his feeling for the household apparent. One is the disclosure of the secret of his male parent ‘s accident in India with which his name is closely linked up, while the other is the male parent ‘s decease. He learns that there is an episode behind his ain naming. A book by Gogol saved his life in a train accident in India. The saviors noticed the book falling from Ashoke ‘s manus. This disclosure which was merely known to his female parent “ in this state ” ( i.e. the U.S. ) brought about a alteration in the boy ‘s attitude to his male parent:
Gogol listens, stunned, his eyes fixed on his male parent ‘s profile. Though there are inches between them, for an instant his male parent is a alien, a adult male who has kept a secret, has survived a calamity, a adult male whose past he does non to the full know. [ aˆ¦ ] Against inherent aptitude he tries to conceive of life without his male parent, a universe in which his male parent does non be. ( 123 )
His male parent ‘s decease is a daze to him and he wants to retrieve his male parent in hours of privateness, in the holiness of his memory. Although Maxine offers to attach to her after he receives the intelligence, he does non accept her offer. “ He does n’t desire to be with person who hardly knew his male parent, who ‘s met him merely one time ” ( 170 ) . They go through the Hindu rites in the family and they mutely feel “ they are entirely, stray, as a household ” ( 181 ) . After some yearss Maxine proposes that a visit to New Hampshire together ; “ to acquire off from all this ” will make him good. Gogol turns down the offer, asseverating that he does non desire to acquire off ( 182 ) . Gogol therefore begins to understand his male parent better. His male parent ‘s sudden decease affects him deeply as he learns to link with him and his yesteryear. Monika Sharma justly points out:
In the decease of his male parent, he finds a beginning, and consciousness and apprehension of community and of the topographic point of the person within household in society. The hr of personal heartache unites him to his household and makes him accept their ways. The ambivalency of his mediate province ceases to annoy him any more. Reacting to the binary resistance as complementary instead than oppositional, he finally discovers and resuscitates his Indian roots and familial ties. ( Sharma 56 )
For Gogol this is a long journey. He has to meet the larger societal infinite in the U.S. , and so he ab initio feels that the norms of the household infinite are a stumbling block. Subsequently he besides realizes that he can non, after all, resist the pull of the household. Despite his hatred for his name and despite his acceptance of a new name, he fails to “ reinvent himself to the full, to interrupt from that mismatched name ” ( Lahiri 287 ) . That is why he finds himself opening the pages of a book authored by Gogol, a book that his male parent had one time gifted him and that remained unread so long.
In the undermentioned, I will wish to discourse Lahiri ‘s descriptions of two infinites which seem to hold connexions with Gogol ‘s development of individuality. First, we need to take note of how Lahiri presents the little university town near Boston, which juxtaposes both the yesteryear and the present. Second, Gogol ‘s visit to a graveyard needs to be discussed because this is elaborately related to the first measure in his individuality development.
The university town outside Boston has a historic territory, “ a brief strip of colonial architecture ” ( 48 ) . There is “ a white steepled Congregational church, a rock courthouse with an bordering gaol, a cupolaed public library, a wooden well from which Paul Revere is rumored to hold rummy ” ( 48 ) . This historic territory flanks the campus on one border. It is interesting to observe that this New England landscape which is the site of early history of in-migration is presented here to raise the yesteryear which is made to look like the present and is relevant. This is done to foreground the fact the U.S. is a state of immigrants, that the flow of in-migration still continues and that the latest immigrants are more assorted and unconventional than the old 1s. The Puritan overtone that was dominant in the yesteryear is no more at that place and the state has opened up to a more globalised in-migration policy, peculiarly after the Immigration Act of 1965 came into consequence. In fact, the narration of the fresh clears instantly after 1965 – in 1968 to be more precise.
Second, Lahiri introduces the image of the graveyard or cemetery as a Foucauldian heterotopia. In 1971, when Gogol was in the 6th signifier of his school his school arranged a trip to a graveyard as portion of field trip. There the instructors announced a ‘project ‘ for the pupils – to rub the headstones with newspapers and so to associate the names with those of their ain – to claim “ a grave they are related to ” ( 69 ) . It is interesting to retrieve that, while discoursing the 2nd rule of heterotopia, Foucault observes that graveyard is a infinite which is “ connected with all the sites of the metropolis, province or society or small town etc. since each household has relatives in the graveyard ” ( Foucault 1967 ) . Some of the pupils are exultant to happen the names they are related to but Gogol is acutely cognizant of his ain ‘difference: ‘ “ Gogol is old plenty to cognize that there is no Ganguli here. He is old plenty to cognize that he himself will be burned, non buried, that “ no rock in this graveyard will bear his name beyond life ” ( Lahiri 69 ) . The graveyard is therefore employed as a metaphor, proposing Gogol ‘s deficiency of roots in the state. He does non hold any hereditary history in the land that would link him to any tradition in the national infinite ; he is so different that his societal and spiritual rite will be incompatible with those of the new state. This find may non be much of a daze to the members of the first coevals Indian Americans, but it is surely a beginning of anxiousness for their kids who passionately seek socialization and integrating.
Gogol discovers some names like ‘ABIJAH CRAVEN, 1701-45, ‘ ‘ANGUISH MATHER, A CHILD, ‘ ‘PEREGRENE WOTTON, D.1699, ‘ and ‘EZEKIELAND URIAH LOCKWOOD, BROTHERS, R.I.P. ‘ The oddness of the names strikes him but he is informed that:
“ [ N ] ow these are some names you do n’t see really frequently these yearss, ” one of the chaperones, passing by and looking at his frictions, comments, “ Kind of similar yours. ” Until now it has non occurred to Gogol that names die over clip, and they perish merely as people do. On the drive back to school the frictions made by the other kids are torn up, crumpled, tossed at one another ‘s caputs, abandoned below the dark green seats. But Gogol is soundless, his frictions rolled up carefully like parchment in his lap. ( 70 )
Gogol is attached to “ these ancient Puritan liquors, these really first immigrants to America, these carriers of unthinkable, disused names have spoken to him ” ( 71 ) . Diging up the yesteryear, he invents the relevancy of his ain name in the American nowadays. He must negociate the present courageously, although he has a name that bears intolerable unfamiliarity. There is another important mention to a cemetery. When Gogol grew up, he visited the hereditary small town of his girlfriend, Maxine Ratliff. He finds “ a little private cemetery where members of the Ratliff household prevarication buried ” ( 153 ) . He besides knows that Maxine would be buried here one twenty-four hours. The privateness of the infinite contains the memory of the ascendants, therefore adhering the members of the Ratliff household in one infinite. The members of the present coevals will besides be portion of the cemetery one twenty-four hours. The little hereditary topographic point with the lake, hills and cemeteries, and of class the little community is an ‘essential portion ‘ of Maxine ‘s being, the memory of her turning up closely connected with the topographic point and infinite. Gogol realizes that[ aˆ¦ ] this is a topographic point that will ever be here for her. It makes it easy to conceive of her yesteryear, and her hereafter, to visualize her turning old. He sees her with runs of grey in her hair, her face still beautiful, her long organic structure somewhat widened and slack, sitting on a beach chair with a floppy chapeau on her caput. He sees her returning here sorrowing, to bury her parents, learning her kids to swim in the lake, taking them with two custodies into the H2O, demoing them how to plunge flawlessly off the border of the dock. ( 156 ) .
Lahiri ‘s novel, through the implicative usage of two cemeteries, creates the deduction of belonging of ( or deficiency of ) the societal infinite and the familial infinite. It takes clip to enroot oneself in a new dirt through coevalss. Gogol does non hold any range of handiness of these infinites in the new land in the sense in which they are employed. But 2nd coevals Indian Americans, like Gogol and Moushumi, are caught up in a critical cultural occasion at a peculiar minute in the history of Indian American in-migration. By non favoring any peculiar cultural places – either of Gogol or of Moushumi – Lahiri, in fact, indicates the many possibilities of Indian American being in the new ( im ) migratory infinite.