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Evaluation of The Namesake Novel from a Feminist Perspective

Adaş (The Namesake) romanını tanıtan kız

In her novel "Namesake", Lahiri describes the cultural conflicts experienced by immigrants, assimilation conflicts, and, most importantly, the knotted ties between generations.

The transformation of the Ganguli family from their traditional life in Calcutta to an American one is a very painful process. Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settled in Massachusetts shortly after their arranged marriage. While Ashoke, who studied engineering, adapts to the environment more easily, his wife Ashima reacts to everything American and misses her family. As Indian parents search for a name for their newborn son, they face the dire consequences of bringing old traditions to the new world.

Gogol Ganguli, named after a Russian writer in memory of a disaster that occurred many years ago, knows that it must carry the weight of its traditions as well as its strange and ancient name. Lahiri creates great sympathy between the reader and Gogol, who cannot decide what to hold on to and has to go through absurd twists and turns and stumbles between bittersweet love relationships. By looking deep into the human soul, the author not only shows the power of the names and expectations our families give us but also underlines the difficulties we endure in presenting ourselves.

One of the main topics of the book is Gogol's character's relationship with his name, based on the knowledge of having two names, which is one of the Indian traditions, the confusion experienced at the time of naming and the change of his name during adolescence, and his relationship with the names of other members of his family.

The book's other female characters, Sonia and Mousumi, especially the mother Ashima Ganguli, are important in their observation of America's experiences as Third World immigrant women.

In this article, the differences and similarities of these three immigrant women, their ways of perceiving the world, their sense of belonging, and their migration experiences will be examined on the basis of gender.

The Namesake filminden bir sahne

The book “The Namesake” begins with a scene from 1968, where the reader first encounters pregnant Ashima. While Ashima was preparing something to eat in the kitchen, she realized that it was time to give birth to the pain she felt and called out to her husband. Ashima does not call her husband Ashoke by his name. Just “Are you listening to me?” It sounds like a sentence that could be translated as follows: In India, it is considered normal for women, especially wives, not to call their husbands by their first names. Names are as special as physical contact. In addition to coming from a culture where names are considered special, this scene also emphasizes that names are a direct reflection of identity.

The name-identity conflict that spreads throughout the novel is conveyed to the reader primarily through mother Ashima and father Ashoke. Even if spouses live together and even have children, they may not want to reveal their identities - perhaps identities they want to keep to themselves - or they may not want to look at it from a different perspective. This scene is an indication of some of the duties imposed on them.

The period in which he had a relationship with the American Maxine was a period in which Gogol questioned himself and his relationships with his family. When they decide to meet Maxine for the first time, she invites him to her home and they have dinner with Maxine's family. This dinner scene is important in that Gogol compares an American family with his own family and conveys his feelings as a person of Indian origin there. Unlike the Ganguli family, the Ratliff family is described as a relaxed family who chats for a long time during meals and asks each other's opinions.

Gogol is quite satisfied with this family and is ashamed of his own family's traditional lifestyle. In the novel, the Ganguli family is depicted as people who eat with their mouths open, constantly trying to fill their plates with food. Gogol, who does not like his family's adherence to tradition, decides to change his name. Although Gogol is not very happy with the name Nikhil, he lives his adulthood and relationships with this name. Moushumi, the daughter of her Bengali acquaintances, whom she would marry later and whose marriage was approved by her family, explains why she loves Gogol and says that the name change and his transformation from the person she knew from her childhood were effective. According to Moushumi, changing a name means changing into another person. Since Gogol introduced himself as Nikhil in his first phone conversation with Moushumi, Moushumi could not remember him. When they marry, Moushumi refuses to take Gogol's surname. As a reason, he gives the fact that he published his articles under his own name as an academic. With a feminist attitude, she finds it unnecessary to add a new surname to her name. Perhaps one of the most important reasons for their divorce is that although Gogol could not easily adapt to the changes in his life and his environment, Moushumi could quickly adapt to these changes.

As a result, the book "The Namesake" examines the experiences of immigrant female characters and their ways of creating themselves through Ashima, Sonia, and Moushumi, three important characters in Gogol's life. The book successfully examines how the female characters, each trying to reinvent themselves, are subjected to double exploitation, both in terms of being a member of a Third World Country and being a woman.


Jhumpa Lahiri, (2004) “Adaş” Everest Yayınları

Hatice Can Uzunali, (2019) “Bharati Mukherjeenin Yasemin ve Jhumpa Lahirinin adaş romanlarındaki kimlik inşası ve toplumsal cinsiyet”, Kadın Çalışmaları Master Tezi, Istanbul Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü.


Awen for Us Eşitlik Gönüllüsü Abdulhalim Karaosmanoğlu
Yazar: Abdulhalim Karaosmanoğlu


Abdulhalim Karaosmanoğlu, who was born in Ankara in 1987, completed his undergraduate education in the Department of International Relations in Cyprus, then completed his Master's Degree in Gender at Mekteb-i Mülkiye and graduated with his thesis on feminist international relations.

While he worked as an assistant during his education, after graduation he worked as a coordinator in NGOs and gave consultancy to art galleries.

He has been the editor of Bahar Magazine and Aryen Publications since 2019. She writes and translates articles in both peer-reviewed journals and popular publications on her areas of interest: political philosophy, gender and art.

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