In Jhumpa Lahiri's "The Namesake", how does Gogol use his culture and race as a vehicle to find his true self.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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For a large part of the novel, Gogol denies his own identity from both personal and cultural dimensions.  He refuses to acknowledge these elements of his own notion of self, which causes an undercurrent of discontent that cannot be fully identified or understood.  Yet, it is there and Gogol does feel it.  When Gogol's father dies, there is a greater level of understanding about who he is and a desire to reconnect with who he is on both personal and cultural levels.  It is through this exploration that Gogol fully understands his own identity.  While he goes to India and falls in love with Moushumi, I think that there is a level of comfort reached when Gogol recognizes that he is able to feel at home in India with Indian culture as well as that part of his identity.  While the relationship dies, the comfort is still there, for it is this that allows him to embrace his name and his own father's beliefs in him.  For Gogol, it seems that acceptance of race and cultural identity is the first step to embracing his true sense of self.

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