The Namesake Questions and Answers
by Jhumpa Lahiri

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Construct a character analysis of Gogol from The Namesake.

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ariel-mcgavock eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Much of Gogol’s character can be understood in relation to a clever bit of foreshadowing that takes place when Gogol is six months old. During the Rice Ceremony, Gogol must choose between a dollar, a pen, and earth, each of which represents an adult profession; instead, he chooses none and cries. Unlike his six-month-old self, an adult Gogol chooses to firmly embrace American culture and rebel against his Bengalese heritage as an adolescent and young adult. He finds lengthy trips to India uncomfortable—as does his sister Sonia—and prefers to assimilate into America to a degree that his parents never did. He goes so far as to change his name, which he feels has burdened him for his entire life, and adopts a name that can be shortened to sound American. For part of the story, at least, Gogol’s choice is clear: in a battle between American culture and Bengalese culture, American culture is the resounding winner.

Gogol finds ambiguity difficult. As a result, he appears harsh in his...

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