The Namesake Questions and Answers
by Jhumpa Lahiri

Start Your Free Trial

Why is this book called The Namesake?

Expert Answers info

Gaia Chandler, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseEditor, Professional Writer




calendarEducator since 2019

write124 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and History

"What's in a name?" goes the old, beautiful Shakespearean quote: "That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet." However, when it comes to questions of identity, it turns out names are more loaded than Juliet assumed. In the context of Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel The Namesake (2003), a name is not just a label on a person: it is a whole self. Thus, names and namesakes are paramount in the novel, and substituting one for the other is also like throwing off an old self and forging a new one. Therefore, its title: The Namesake.

As the book opens, Ashima and Ashoke Ganguli, young Bengali immigrants to Boston, have had a son. The year is 1968. Names for newborn babies are typically chosen by Bengali elders, but in the case of Ashima and Ashoke, the word on this matter from their own parents is still a month away. So Ashima and Ashoke decide to tide the wait over with choosing a pet name, which in Bengali is known as a daknam.

In Bengali, the word for pet name is daknam, meaning,...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 1,308 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

linda-allen eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2004

write2,120 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

bigyandahal | Student

namesake means "one who shares the name of another person".

in the book, the namesake Gogol is the namesake of Nikolai Gogol who is a famous Russian author. But the irony in the book is Nikolai is the favourite author of Ashoke and its a reason why he named his son as Gogol, and the son dislikes his name.

the whole novel revols around the name of the protagonist, Gogol.this is probably the reason why the book is named as the namesake.