Is it possible that Gogol blamed a dislike for himself on his name, and by changing his name he felt that he became a new person that he liked more?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The idea behind your question strikes at one of the critical issues of the novel.  Lahiri's work seeks to examine how "hyphenated Americans" have to deal with the straddling of two worlds- the world in which they are and the world from which they came.  Gogol's name represents this.  On one hand, it is not really a Bengali name, but is one that derives from his father and his past, two elements that cause a certain level of consternation in him.  As Gogol lives in America, he seeks to appropriate all aspects of being "American."  One of these is the idea that there it only the future, and little in way of the past.  This is in stark contrast to the Indian culture, which believes that one's present and future is inextricably linked to one's past.  As an Indian- American, Gogol sees his past as something that needs to be shed, something that needs to be erased and forgotten.  His name is a reflection of this, and in the process, he does believe that through redefining himself and renaming himself, he is able to become that new person he so seeks to be.  Eventually, though, he begins to understand that his identity cannot be overcome through mere name changes and behavioral changes.  Rather, Gogol has to embrace who he is in order to find some level of peace, and some level of comfort "within his own skin."  This is only enhanced when he starts to read the works of Gogol, indicating that the thing with which he viewed with skepticism and distrust has become an indivisible part of who he is and who he shall be.

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The Namesake

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