In The Namesake, what is an example of the idea of "exclusion"?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many examples of exclusion in The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. The story is all about exclusion, in fact. Gogol's parents Ashoke and Ashima have emigrated from Bengal, India, to the United States. Their culture is very important to them and they cherish their cultural traditions and practices.

Gogol is born in the U.S. and grows up with American children who ridicule and isolate him for his odd name, ethnic background and cultural practices. Gogol is excluded from normal American assimilation. To exclude means to shut out or to prevent the entrance of someone into a place, group or activity.

In turn, Gogol excludes his parents from his affection and life, especially his early adult life, because he ashamed of them and wants to distance himself from his Begalese heritage. Later, when Gogol's father Ashoke dies, Gogol excludes his American girlfriend from his grief and returns to his mother and sister.

His mother Ashima encourages him to reunite with a childhood friend, a woman now, named Moushumi. He does and they eventually marry. Later, Moushumi feels trapped and excludes Gogol from her affections by becoming intimately involved with an old friend. Then Moushumi and Gogol exclude each other permanently by getting divorced.