What is meant by the word, "namesake" in "The Namesake"?

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

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The idea of the concept of "namesake" is to convey a shared connection between names.  For Gogol, understanding and coming to accept his own name is of central importance to the novel.  The fact that Gogol hated his name for so long, his own namesake, is essential in the development of his character.  Although he knows the story behind his naming, he fails to embrace it.  It is only through his father's death that he has a firmer grasp of the implications of his identity.  The recognition of the name is something that comes at the end of the narrative when Gogol is alone and understands that the only thing he possesses that no one else can take from him is his name.  The affinity he has for his "namesake" comes at the end of the novel, when he starts reading work by Gogol, indicating a penchant for the writer like his father.  In the end, "the namesake" is within Gogol and in what he embraces and how he demonstrates character development and growth.

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