In "The Namesake," how does Ashoke's death alter relationships within the immediate Ganguli family?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ashoke's death is the catalyst for the transformation with Gogol.  Having to retrieve his father's ashes in Ohio causes a change within Gogol.  It is at this point where so much that had been dismissed or deferred comes back to haunt Gogol.  The configuration of relationships in the family, with Gogol on the periphery, seeking his own appropriation of consciousness is something that changes with the death of his father.  The transformation involves Gogol withdrawing more from Maxine and the "Westernized" life he had been living, one that he was quite content to live.  It also encompasses emotionally moving closer to his mother and sister and seeking to find answers in this realm and not going outside of it.  This transformation of the relationships in the family is brought on by death for a couple of reasons.  The first is the immediacy of Ashoke's death.  Considering that he had lived through the train accident, facilitated a life for his family in America, and had essentially fulfilled the obligation of the immigrant settling in America, the sudden prospect of his death causes an inward gravitational pull in the family, most noticeably in Gogol. Additionally, the death experience in America for the Ganguli is different in American than it would have been experienced in Bengal.  Consider the opening where the birth of a child is something that is so isolated in America, and something that is in stark contrast to the familial and collective setting of India.  In much the same way, the family emotional dynamics are altered through death to create much of the collective experience that is so noticeably absent in America.