The paper explicates the modest attempt
on the fragmented identity crisis faced by the immigrants from India in Jhumpa
Lahiri’s Namesake. The fragmented identity crisis may occur at any time to
adulthood basically challenging the sense of authentic self-hood. This identity
crisis had paved way of diaspora writing in South Asian literature. The objective of this paper is to show the
perplexed idea about quest of identity crisis.
This identity generally leaves personal struggle with self-discovery.
The keywords: Fragmentation, name
dualism, self-discovery, alienation
The Identity crisis is defined as distress and
disorientation especially in adolescence resulting from conflicting pressures
and uncertainty about one’s self and one’s role in society. The identity of a person moves with the
cultural changes. This world is ever-changing world and all the people contain a
different fragmented identity crisis. The Fragmented identity crisis came into
account as a result of modernity. The
modernity and modernistic thoughts have connection with an identity crisis.
was the reason for the fragmentation identity crisis. Some other factors
include urbanization, industrialization. Capitalism etc. The fragmentation can happen only to the
communities we live in. Living in between, this identity crisis is very painful
as it creates cultural discouragement. The Identity crisis is related to
everyday life. The name definitely signifies one’s identity. What if the name
fragments one’s identity? Does it have anything to do with our identity?
Fragmented identity crisis in Gogol’s life
Jhumpa Lahri is one of the most influential
diaspora writers of modern times and acclaimed for novels based on identity
crisis. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her first novel interpreter of maladies. Most of her novels deal with the themes of immigration,
territorial influences, etc. Namesake is simply a novel of identity. Namesake
was published in 2003 and considered one of the best novels and later was an adaptation
of Hollywood film with the same name.
Namesake identifies the fragmented
identity crisis faced by Gogol an immigrant from India. The Identity crisis is
the central theme of the novel. The novel is about Gogol the protagonist and sensitive
boy who is in quest of his identity. Gogol is born to immigrants from Bengal. He
is named after writer Nikolai Gogol. Bengali children are given two names: a
good name and the pet name. In the novel nickname is the name used by family
and good name for the documentary and for the world. The concept of name dualism
is one of the major factors of identity crisis. Gogol’s character is skillfully
assimilated into a tie between two generations. The problem with fragmented
identity is they don’t detach from the past, and they don’t connect with the
In the novel Gogol aka Nikhil is a symbolization
of fragmentation of identity crisis. The dualism of nicknames and a good name
is a contraction to Gogol’s life. Throughout Gogol’s life he faces lots of
distress and his life becomes fragmented. He lives in two different worlds simultaneously,
but doesn’t identify his real world. He is linguistically tied and ancestrally separated
to Calcutta. His inner thoughts are only preoccupied with self-discovery and
process of naming. Gogol finds himself
in a fortunate position, and he was not able to find a property of holding in
“There’s no such thing as a perfect name. I
think that human beings should be allowed to name themselves when they turn
eighteen,” he adds. “Until then, pronouns.”
The following lines show Gogol’s attitude
to name. He is more radical than his parents that are accustomed to Bengali culture.
Thus name really has something to do with a person’s life.
Gogol frequently identifies the
crisis in different stage of his life from college life to his love life. He notices children in school now and again
making fun of his name, and he starts to feel uncomfortably conscious of strangeness
and alienated. On the other side, he
becomes more comfortable with the customs of America. The interactions and
inheritance to new customs and his thought process like Americans lead a change
in attitudes. He discovers himself only
after the death of his father.
Gogol is in the horns of
dilemma encountering his American and Indian identity which is fragmented.
Gogol is a reflection of Lahri as an immigrant in the novel. Lahri had identified
Gogol as an alien with only the strength of family. This identity crisis is
also faced by Gogol’s mother Ashima as something called homesickness. After, a roller coaster ride Gogol had gained
to reaffirm faith in life.
“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.”
? Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
Identity is a subject to be changed because
it doesn’t have a fixed criterion. The novel’s ending is neither happy nor
sorrowful. Gogol discovers his identity
which was fragmented with the ancestors and geographical tie. In the end Gogol’s
identity doesn’t rely on his family and the American society. As, a character
of this modern world Gogol is a perfect example of global identity. As a result the writer had portrayed the
world problems of the immigrants.