Cultural relevance is at the root of Gogol's problems.Cultural relevance is at the root of Gogol's problems.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I believe that the statement does hold some level of validity.  On one hand, there is some significance to how cultural relevance, or the lack of it, plays a role in Gogol's challenge.  Certainly, the fact that he repudiated his own background during his father's life plays a large role in how he feels when he must retrieve his father's ashes.  At the same time, the need to be culturally relevant is what initiates Gogol's desire to be closer to his family and go to India.  Yet, I think that that the characterization of Gogol is one where cultural relevance is not the only element of challenge.  His marriage, albeit culturally relevant, is a failure.  His mother, one who embraced cultural relevancy, decides to spend half of the year in India and the other half in the States, and Gogol's sister has found love with a non- India.  In the end of the novel, Gogol is finding peace with a more psychological condition of relevance that is not bound solely by culture.  There is a relevance that Gogol experiences and understand that is not entirely or solely cultural.  Culture is a part of this jigsaw puzzle to find an overall condition of relevance, but it is not the end and final product to this search in Gogol's experience.