The Namesake

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Character Analysis

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Essay Topics

To what extent does Gogol’s name determine his life journey? How do other characters’ names affect their identities?

Explore Ashima’s progress from a Bengali student to an American librarian through analysis of three key scenes. How does this compare to Gogol’s journey to accepting his identity?

Locate and analyze examples of how the author represents the differences between Bengali and American cultures. How do these differences tie into the novel’s themes concerning identity?

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essay questions for the namesake

The Namesake

Jhumpa lahiri, ask litcharts ai: the answer to your questions.

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake . Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

The Namesake: Introduction

The namesake: plot summary, the namesake: detailed summary & analysis, the namesake: themes, the namesake: quotes, the namesake: characters, the namesake: symbols, the namesake: theme wheel, brief biography of jhumpa lahiri.

The Namesake PDF

Historical Context of The Namesake

Other books related to the namesake.

  • Full Title: The Namesake
  • When Written: 2003
  • Where Written: First published in part by the New Yorker, in June 2003
  • When Published: September, 2003
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Contemporary Immigrant Fiction, Bildungsroman
  • Setting: Calcutta; Massachusetts; New York
  • Climax: Debatably, in a novel whose scope spans three decades, the climax comes when Gogol’s father, Ashoke, dies unexpectedly, causing Gogol to return toward his family, leave Maxine, and ultimately marry Moushumi.
  • Point of View: Third person omniscient narrator, sometimes with the added perspective of a specific character

Extra Credit for The Namesake

Pet Names Lahiri herself goes by her Indian ‘pet name’ after feeling embarrassed in kindergarten when her teacher had difficulty pronouncing her true name – she has said that this was one inspiration for the story of Gogol/Nikhil.

Film Version There is a popular movie adaptation of The Namesake starring Kal Penn as Gogol Ganguli.

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essay questions for the namesake

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The Namesake Essay Topics & Writing Assignments

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Essay Topic 1

The Ganguli family lifestyle is central to the story. Compare and contrast the Ganguli family's lifestyle to the lifestyle of the Ratliffs. Cite examples from the novel that show differences and explain how those differences are important to the story.

Essay Topic 2

The anger of second-generation immigrants who feel they are treated as second-class citizens is a theme in many novels. In this novel, the author uses the second-generation Indian immigrant Moushumi as an example of this anger. What happens in the novel that she sees as slights to her Indian heritage? How do these imagined slights affect her? How does her resulting anger affect her marriage to Gogol? Cite examples from the book to support your answers.

Essay Topic 3

How is the marriage of Ashim and Ashoke Ganguli different from most American marriages? Cite examples to support your answer. Discuss some advantages or disadvantages of...

(read more Essay Topics)


(approx. 4 pages at 300 words per page)

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Essays on The Namesake

Prompt examples for "the namesake" essays, identity and cultural belonging.

Examine the theme of identity and cultural belonging in "The Namesake," considering how characters like Gogol and Ashoke navigate their dual identities.

Immigrant Experience

Analyze the immigrant experience as portrayed in the novel, focusing on the challenges, adjustments, and cultural clashes faced by the Ganguli family in America.

Names and Identity

Discuss the significance of names in the novel, particularly the importance of Gogol's name and how it shapes his sense of self.

Generational Conflicts

Explore the generational conflicts and differences in values and expectations between the parents (Ashoke and Ashima) and their children (Gogol and Sonia).

The Role of Literature

Examine the influence of literature, particularly the writings of Nikolai Gogol, on the characters' lives and choices in the novel.

Assimilation vs. Preservation of Culture

Analyze the characters' choices between assimilating into American culture and preserving their Bengali heritage, and the consequences of these choices.

The Search for Belonging

Discuss the characters' individual quests for a sense of belonging and how it evolves throughout the novel.

Motherhood and Independence

Explore Ashima's journey as a mother and her pursuit of independence and self-identity beyond her role as a wife and mother.

Cultural Traditions and Rituals

Analyze the cultural traditions and rituals depicted in the novel and their significance in the characters' lives and the narrative.

Adaptation to a New Culture

Discuss the challenges and adaptations faced by the Ganguli family as they acclimate to American culture, emphasizing both their successes and struggles.

The Realistic Take on Immigrant Experience in The Namesake

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The Complexity of Identity in The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

An exposition of immigrant struggles in the namesake, the namesake: the importance of love/intimacy for self-discovery, gogol’s search for greater understanding in the namesake, let us write you an essay from scratch.

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Billy Collins "The Names": Summary

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The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, Essay Example

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The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri follows the story of Gogol Gangul, as well as his parents Ashoke and Ashima, but particularly Gogol as he journeys through life trying to find out his true identity. The book The Namesake gets it’s name from Gogol’s quest for who he is inside- and through that process, he changes his name in an attempt to forget his past. Gogol, Nikil, whoever he is, the main character of the story is torn between his American and Indian heritage. In his quest for personal fulfillment, Gogol hurts many of the people close to him. It is only through the passing of his own father that Gogol realizes his true identity and purpose, and the book comes full circle- with Gogol finally bonding with both his Indian and American heritages rather than running from them both.

The book begins with Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli welcoming Gogol into the world, only unlike traditional children, Gogol is Bengali. That meant that his parents had to break tradition in order to give him his name. Right from birth Gogol’s identity was rushed and unplanned, it’s no wonder he wound up looking for himself years later. As Gogol grows up he learns to embrace the American culture more than the Bengali culture and eventually he winds up in college in New York City. This is where he meets Maxine. Maxine is Gogol’s first love. They date for some time but during the relationship Gogol’s father passes away and eventually Maxine and Gogol break up. The passing of Gogol’s father is the climax of the story. At this part of the story, Gogol realizes the importance of family and his Indian heritage. This is when he begins to reconnect with his Bengali roots. Gogol gets married and learns to embrace both his Indian and American heritage, but his marriage doesn’t last. His wife has an affair on him and Gogol gets a divorce, but Gogol was not searching for love, Gogol was searching for himself- so in the end Gogol got what he alway wanted.

The themes in Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake include the search for one’s own identity, the importance of family, the quest for love and the contrasting views of society and class. The setting of The Namesake takes place in a variety of places, but mainly New York City, and Massachusetts, as well as India. Strengths in The Namesake include the strong emphasis on the theme of identity and love, as well as the emotional quest that Jhumpa Lahiri takes readers on through the story. Weaknesses in The Namesake include the poor ending that was disappointing and thin, as well as some bland use of speech. The overall mood of the book tends to be serious in nature.

After reading The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri I found the book intriguing and provocative. I definitely understood the message that Lahiri was trying to get across regarding the quest for one’s own identity as well as the quest for love- and both of those resonated with me. I related with Gogol and understood why he felt incomplete in this mysterious world around him. The only part of the book that I would change would be the ending. Although I was unhappy with the ending, if I was Lahiri, I would have ended the book with Gogol winding up with Maxine in a beautiful merging of the Indian and American cultures, but I am not the author. I still enjoyed the read and I would not consider it dull at all. I would and have recommended this book to my friends and family and consider it to be a great book telling the story of the search for one’s own self.

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Introduction:

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri is a book about finding one’s own identity while on a personal quest of love, strife and laughter.

Gogol Ganguli is an American-Indian who has no idea who he is. The book The Namesake takes readers on Gogol’s personal journey from life through his mid-thirties- the years when he finally realizes his true identity. In the process Gogol battles with his Indian and American side. He also dates a girl named Maxine, loses his father, marries a woman named Moushumi, divorces Moushumi, then finally realizes that nothing matters if he doesn’t know who he is inside- but at this point in the story, Gogol has found himself, and it’s a beautiful thing.

Supporting Idea:

Gogol leaves his family, changes his name to Nikhil and starts dating Maxine in hopes to “find himself”. When his father dies however, Gogol drops everything and goes to his family where he realizes the importance of family, culture and identity- the things he has been running from the whole time.

Conclusion:

Gogol’s attempt to escape from his own culture only lead him back home where he inevitably found his true identity.

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Understanding the Namesake: the Significance and Impact of Names in Identity Formation

This essay about the significance of names highlights how names are not merely labels but integral to shaping identities and societal interactions. Names reflect cultural values, social status, and personal identity, influencing perceptions and opportunities. They play a crucial role in self-concept, heritage, and societal expectations. The essay also discusses the psychological impact of names, their symbolic use in literature and art, and their importance in legal and political contexts. It emphasizes the power dynamics in naming conventions and the importance of respecting diverse identities. Understanding names enriches our comprehension of individual and collective identities.

How it works

In the rich tapestry of human existence, names are not just labels but pivotal threads that weave through our lives, sculpting our identities and interactions. From the moment a name is chosen or bestowed, it embarks on a significant journey of self-discovery and societal connection. Across diverse cultures, names are selected with meticulous care, embodying cherished values, aspirations, or notable historical moments deemed significant by families and societies. Some names are believed to carry auspicious meanings, thought to endow their bearers with qualities essential for a successful life journey.

Others serve as homages to ancestors, forging deep-rooted connections to heritage that nurture a sense of belonging and pride.

Names transcend their literal meanings, serving as markers of social status, ethnic lineage, or religious affiliation. They subtly influence perceptions and opportunities, shaping how individuals navigate societal structures. Consider the impact of a surname in professional settings or the assumptions evoked by the perceived ethnicity of a given name—such associations mold initial impressions and interpersonal dynamics, influencing life trajectories in profound ways.

Psychologically, names are crucial in shaping self-concept and personal narrative. From childhood, individuals identify with their names, integrating them as fundamental aspects of their evolving identities. Names become tools for self-expression and autonomy, adapting as individuals mature and assert their uniqueness within familial, social, and cultural contexts. Adolescents, in particular, may experiment with variations or adaptations of their names as they explore different facets of their emerging identities.

Moreover, names may carry historical legacies or societal expectations that individuals may choose to embrace or challenge. Opting to change one’s name can be a transformative declaration, reflecting a desire to authentically align with gender identity, cultural roots, or personal convictions. This act of renaming underscores the fluidity and complexity of self-discovery, offering individuals a pathway to assert autonomy over their own narratives.

In literature and art, names often serve as potent symbols, layered with meanings that extend beyond their literal definitions. Authors and artists utilize names to delve into themes of identity, heritage, and belonging, prompting audiences to contemplate the profound impacts of nomenclature on characters’ destinies and personal journeys. For example, in Jhumpa Lahiri’s “The Namesake,” the protagonist’s struggle with his name serves as a poignant exploration of cultural assimilation, familial expectations, and the quest for self-identity within the contexts of Bengali and American cultures.

Names also hold critical significance in legal and political arenas, functioning as vital identifiers for establishing citizenship, accessing rights and services, and preserving cultural heritage. Recognizing and validating individuals’ names in official documentation are crucial steps toward affirming their identities and promoting inclusivity within diverse societies.

Nevertheless, the influence of names isn’t always positive or empowering. In some cases, individuals may face marginalization or prejudice due to the mispronunciation, misrepresentation, or deliberate erasure of their names. Such experiences highlight the power dynamics inherent in naming conventions and emphasize the importance of using language respectfully and inclusively to honor and validate diverse identities.

Ultimately, the significance of names in identity formation underscores their role as bridges between the personal and the communal. They embody memories, uphold traditions, and facilitate social recognition. Whether inherited, chosen, or reclaimed, names shape narratives of belonging and influence how individuals navigate their relationships with themselves and others.

In conclusion, understanding the profound significance of names requires acknowledging the intricate interplay of personal identity, cultural heritage, and societal expectations interwoven into the fabric of names. By appreciating the multifaceted roles names play in shaping individual and collective identities, we deepen our understanding of the diverse ways individuals construct meaning and forge their paths in a complex and interconnected world.

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What We Lost During Last Night’s Cringeworthy Debate

T he first presidential debate of this protracted presidential season was a horror show. Preceded by what seemed like weeks of excited speculation, idiotic predictions, and presumptive pre-debate analysis, when the debate actually happened, it demonstrated the dire choice that the two major political parties have given the electorate: pick the ranting liar and fear-mongering xenophobe, or choose the befuddled, stumbling man whose attempts to explain policy. (“I support Roe v. Wade , which had three trimesters”?) It was painful to watch.

One might rightly wonder what purpose presidential debates serve, particularly this year. We already know both candidates pretty well, and if we don’t, we have four more months to learn that Trump neither cares for the duties of office or the complexities of foreign affairs (and cultures), but does possess a talent for stirring up prejudice, for making people laugh, and for making them fearful. He does not answer questions. Last night, he avoided the question on the war in Gaza. He punted on the opioid crisis and climate change. He makes no appeal to decency, which is Biden’s forte (or was). But decency without backbone is what makes Biden appear, well, doddery. And we can watch that too until November. In fact, this otherwise consequential president seemed most focused when he talked about hitting a golf ball.

Read More: Calls for Biden to Step Aside Are About to Get Deafening

Part of the problem is that we live in a visual age. As a result, though we value them, our presumptive leaders become leaders even if they lack oratorical skills. In fact, it’s not surprising that the first well-known presidential debate , in 1960, occurred when television was a relatively new medium, and it did Richard Nixon no favors. No one remembers what he said, just how he looked. (Actually, the first televised debate, between candidates Adlai Stevenson and Dwight Eisenhower , took place four years earlier but without them; they used stand-ins, Eleanor Roosevelt and Margaret Chase Smith.) Before that, presidents depended on radio, with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “fireside chats” bringing him, and his voice, with its powers of persuasion, into one’s home. Before that, we debated in the public square of newspapers. Word, skillfully written, can change minds. Consider Lincoln and Douglas, a debate for a seat in the Senate, and the rest is history.

So oratory matters. The ability to persuade, through words, mattered. It still does, which is why last night’s debate was so chilling. When William Jennings Bryan was nominated by Democrats as their presidential candidate for the third time in 1908, even though he’d been unsuccessful twice before, it was because of his oratorical gift. His voice, once heard, was never forgotten. He could address a crowd of 20,000 and make the audience feel as though he spoke directly to each and everyone one of them and he understood what they needed. They called him the “Great Commoner.” He even started a newspaper so he could write column after column and deliver what amounted to sermons.

And, like all good orators, he knew how to perform. He did not want his tie too straight. Bryan practiced parts of his famous “Cross of Gold” speech , one of the most famous in American political history, for months and months before he delivered it in 1896 at the Democratic National Convention. He bounded onto the stage, raised his arms, and then spoke in the lyrical, cadenced phrases of Scripture. “We are fighting in the defense of our homes, our families, and posterity,” Bryan declared. “We have petitioned, and our petitions have been scorned; we have entreated, and our entreaties have been disregarded; we have begged, and they have mocked when our calamity came. We beg no longer; we entreat no more; we petition no more.” It was good stuff.

Read More: These Are the Biggest Moments in the First Presidential Debate

But performance needs substance. And so Bryan would eventually meet his nemesis when he was confronted by an orator even more practiced, clever, and dramatic than he. That was Clarence Darrow, the celebrated lawyer in rumpled clothes whose talent for mesmerizing juries with his impression of humility (some of which was genuine) was unparalleled. Though not a politician, or at least not a professional one, Darrow was a man who could deliver a rational argument with much emotion. It was a winning combination.

Take his defense of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, two teenagers accused of the gruesome and motiveless murder of 14 year-old Bobby Franks. Darrow had Leopold and Loeb plead guilty to avoid a jury trial so he could argue before the judge that their lives should be spared. Claiming Leopold and Loeb were just adolescents, the products of genetics and environment, Darrow said they were essentially without free will. “They killed,” said Darrow, “because hey were made that way.” At the same time, let us not blindly and cruelly call for yet another death, he implored the judge. Let us acknowledge that capital punishment grows out of our primitive need for vengeance, and let’s acknowledge that our killing two defective, two abnormal adolescents would not prevent other impaired boys or malevolent men or vicious women from committing murder.

“I sometimes wonder whether I am dreaming, whether I am not living in centuries long gone by, when savagery roamed wild, and the world was wet with human blood?” he concluded at the trial’s end. It was a consummate performance: a rational argument topped off by an emotional one. Leopold and Loeb received life sentences.

When Darrow and Bryan confronted each other in the courtroom, both of them, like Biden and Trump, were considered past their prime. Certainly they weren’t vying for the Oval Office, and their confrontation took place in a court of law, not on a television set. But they were jousting over the meaning of America and America’s future with far more passion, compassion, and reasonableness than anything that happened last night on the debate stage. For all his faults, Bryan was an optimistic idealist who thought he could improve the lives of ordinary men and women. He was a progressive who sincerely believed—and fought for—such reforms as the government ownership of utilities, a graduated income tax, currency reform, woman's suffrage and, for better and worse, Prohibition, which, in his mind, would help purify the nation by abolishing alcoholism, child abuse, and violence against women.

But when he wanted to turn the country into a Christian theocracy, Darrow objected. Their showdown took place in the summer of 1925 over a law recently passed by the Tennessee legislature that barred teaching the theory of evolution in public schools. It later became known, famously, as the Scopes Trial .

Darrow volunteered to defend the young schoolteacher who had purposefully broken the law (to test it), and he mustered, once again, all his oratorical skills. “Ignorance and fanaticism are ever busy and needs feeding,” Darrow declared. “Today it is the public school teachers, tomorrow the private. The next day the preachers and the lecturers, the magazines, the books, the newspapers. After a while, it is the setting of man against man and creed against creed until with flying banners and beating drums we are marching backward to the glorious ages of the sixteenth century when bigots lighted fagots to burn the men who dared to bring any intelligence and enlightenment and culture to the human mind."

“No subject possesses the minds of men like religious bigotry and hate,” Darrow concluded, “and these fires are being lighted today in America.”

He spoke without notes. He was persuasive and passionate. That’s what I thought about—what we had lost—as I watched last night’s sad, cringeworthy debate.

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Harvard business school announces 3 new application essays.

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Harvard Business School.

Harvard Business School announced a surprising departure from its single, open-ended application essay to three short essays with specific prompts. The HBS website sums up the kind of applicant the school is seeking: “We are looking for future leaders who are passionate about business, leadership, and growth.”

The prompts for the class that will begin in fall 2025 instruct applicants to address each topic in turn.

  • Business-Minded Essay : Please reflect on how your experiences have influenced your career choices and aspirations and the impact you will have on the businesses, organizations, and communities you plan to serve. (up to 300 words)
  • Leadership-Focused Essay : What experiences have shaped who you are, how you invest in others, and what kind of leader you want to become? (up to 250 words)
  • Growth-Oriented Essay : Curiosity can be seen in many ways. Please share an example of how you have demonstrated curiosity and how that has influenced your growth. (up to 250 words)

The prompts ask applicants to go beyond simply asserting their allegiance to the ideals of business, leadership and growth. Each of the three questions asks for evidence: “experiences,” “experiences” and “an example,” respectively.

The prompts do not expect a straightforward list of what happened in the past. Rather, they encourage reflection on how these experiences affected present realities and future goals.

Applicants are asked to reflect on past, present and future as an ongoing process of becoming who they are now and who they wish to become. Even the “Business-Minded Essay” is about past choices and future impact; it also assumes you “plan to serve.” The “Leadership-Focused Essay” does not ask applicants to recite a list of titles, but to discuss who they are and how they relate to others; not what title they aspire to, but “what kind of leader you wish to become.”

Perhaps the most surprising essay prompt is No. 3, which asks about curiosity. It opens the door for applicants to discuss a more personal aspect of their candidacies. The prompt asks not about end result, but about the process of change. Once again, the emphasis is on “growth.”

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In short, the prompts ask about person and process.

How The 3 New Prompts Differ From Last Year’s Single Question

This year’s prompts give applicants more direction than the previous open-ended instruction, which was: “As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?”

Applicants may find it easier to follow these more detailed instructions and to stay on topic. They no longer need to face an open question and a blank page.

Another aid is the shorter word limit. The essay on being business-minded has a limit of 300 words, and the essays on leadership and growth through curiosity are limited to 250 words each.

A third difference is the specific inquiry about business. Last year’s prompt allowed candidates to choose anything they thought would be important for HBS to consider. Some applicants struggled to decide whether to focus on business or something beyond work. While the “Business-Minded Essay” is still personal, it does ask applicants to reflect on their careers.

One might also speculate that the new, more directive prompts makes it easier for the admissions committee to compare essays across applications, while still leaving room for considerable variation in how applicants choose to address the essay prompts.

Dr. Marlena Corcoran

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We’re Good at Punishing #MeToo Men. Can We Ever Forgive Them?

An illustration of Morgan Spurlock’s head, with his mouth covered by multiple hands.

By Lux Alptraum

Ms. Alptraum is the author of “Faking It: The Lies Women Tell About Sex — and the Truths They Reveal.”

Five years ago, I found myself in a coffee shop in downtown Manhattan sitting across a table from Morgan Spurlock, a man I’d never met and whom I knew only as the creator of the hit documentary “Super Size Me.” A colleague had brought us together, thinking we might be able to forge a mutually beneficial relationship. As I told a friend in the lead-up to the meeting, “I think I’m supposed to teach Morgan Spurlock how to apologize.”

I was there because I’m a feminist writer who’d just written a book that grappled with the post-#MeToo moment and how we might find a way forward. Mr. Spurlock was still reeling from the self-inflicted wound of a confessional post he published during the height of #MeToo, one that acknowledged a long history of ugly behavior, including a college era rape accusation, an incident of workplace sexual harassment, serial infidelity and decades of alcoholism. Although he positioned his confession as taking accountability — “I am part of the problem,” he wrote, “but I am also part of the solution” — the post tanked his career, delayed the release of the sequel to “Super Size Me” and prompted him to step down from his production company.

Which was why we were having coffee.

When the news broke last month that Mr. Spurlock had died from complications of cancer, the arc of his life seemed permanently settled: a one-hit wonder who’d squandered his success by trying to get out ahead of a potential P.R. scandal. On social media, more than a few people derided him as a rapist who didn’t deserve to be mourned, a privileged white guy who’d hurt people on the way up and expected the slate to be wiped clean just because he admitted that he’d done something wrong.

I find myself chafing at this summary judgment. After that initial coffee, I stayed in touch with Mr. Spurlock, and eventually we formed a friendship, one full of conversations about what it might mean to be a better person. Despite that relationship, I don’t consider him worthy of blanket forgiveness; I don’t even believe that he deserved a second chance at the spotlight. But I can’t shake the feeling that nearly seven years after #MeToo, we still haven’t found a way for men who want to make amends to do so meaningfully. There were prominent figures brought down by #MeToo who have never asked for, or deserved, our sympathy. But if we as a society want to truly break the cycle of harm, we need to offer an opportunity for forgiveness to those who are truly willing and eager to change.

We can remember Mr. Spurlock as a #MeToo casualty. Or we can look at him as a model for how people might honestly face up to the harm they’ve caused — and how the rest of us can better consider their efforts.

Mr. Spurlock’s initial public confession wasn’t polished or professional; he admitted to me once that he’d published it without having shown it to anyone. But in its messy, unpolished form, his outpouring struck me as genuine and honest, raw and emotional and antithetical to the massaged damage control we’ve come to expect from other disgraced public figures. If Mr. Spurlock’s contribution to a larger conversation about systemic sexual abuse seemed imperfect, to me it also reflected what real growth can look like: a painful public reckoning that’s commensurate with the moment.

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POPNOTES | OPINION: Robert Shaw, Lincoln Kirstein and ‘Glory’

June 27, 2024 at 1:30 p.m.

by Philip Martin

The story of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, one of the first Black regiments in the Union Army, is told in “Glory.”

One of the greatest war movies of all time, Edward Zwick's "Glory" has just been released, for the first time, in a "limited edition, 4K Ultra HD edition."

essay questions for the namesake

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The Namesake

By jhumpa lahiri.

  • The Namesake Summary

The year is 1968, and Ashima Ganguli , a Bengali woman who has recently moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts with her new husband, is about to give birth. Her husband, Ashoke, accompanies her to the hospital in a taxi. In the waiting room of the hospital, Ashoke remembers how in 1961, as he was taking the train from Calcutta to Jamshedpur to visit his grandfather and collect the books he was to inherit from him, there was an accident and he had nearly died. On the train, he had been reading a collection of short stories by Nikolai Gogol, a Russian author, when the locomotive engine and seven bogies derailed, causing Ashoke's car to be flung into a nearby field. Rescue workers found Ashoke because of the book page he clutched in his hand.

Their baby boy is born in the morning. Ashima and Ashoke want to wait to name him until a letter arrives from Ashima's grandmother with two name options: one for a boy and one for a girl. It is the Bengali tradition to have a respected elder choose the name of a child. However, it is time to leave the hospital and the letter has not arrived, so they decide to make up a pet name that will be used until they can officially name their baby based on his grandmother's wishes. Ashoke chooses Gogol, the name of the author whose stories he was reading when the train crashed years before. Ashima and Ashoke hold a rice ceremony for Gogol when he is six months old. Six months later, the Gangulis are planning a visit to India. Ashima's brother Rana calls with the bad news that her father has suffered a heart attack and died. Ashima is extremely upset and they decide to go to Calcutta six weeks earlier than they had planned for the funeral.

By 1971, the Gangulis have moved from Harvard Square to a university town outside Boston. After two years in university-subsidized housing, Ashima and Ashoke decide to buy a home. The new house is on Pemberton Road, and there are no Bengali neighbors. On the first day of Gogol's kindergarten, his parents tell the principal, Mrs. Lapidus , that she should call Gogol by his formal name, "Nikhil." But she overhears them referring to him as "Gogol" and asks him what he would like to be called. When he answers "Gogol," it sticks. Ashima gives birth to Gogol's little sister, Sonia, in May. In the next years, Ashoke finds out about the deaths of both his parents and Ashima finds out about the death of her mother. They learn about these deaths by phone call.

On Gogol's fourteenth birthday, his father comes into his room and gives him his birthday present: The Short Stories of Nikolai Gogol. Gogol is more interested in listening to the Beatles than looking at the book, and he is unable to appreciate it. Ashoke begins to tell Gogol about the train accident that made him appreciate the author Gogol so much, but stops because he realizes Gogol cannot yet understand. Gogol stashes the book away when his father leaves. The next year, the Gangulis decide to go to Calcutta for eight months while Ashoke is up for sabbatical at the university. Gogol begins his junior year of high school in the fall, taking English with Mr. Lawson . Mr. Lawson knows about the Russian author Gogol and assigns the class to read one of his short stories, " The Overcoat ."

The summer before he leaves for college at Yale, Gogol goes to probate court and legally changes his name to Nikhil. Gogol goes to Yale and introduces himself as Nikhil; however, it takes a while before he really feels like Nikhil. He begins to date a girl named Ruth, but they grow apart while she is studying abroad at Oxford. The next Thanksgiving, Ashoke tells Gogol about the origin of his name; about the train accident in which he was almost killed. Gogol asks him if he reminds him of that night that he almost died, and his father says no; he reminds him of "everything that followed."

By 1994, Gogol is living in a tiny apartment in New York working as an architect. He begins to date a woman named Maxine Ratliff . Her parents, Lydia and Gerald, are incredibly wealthy, and they interact in a casual but intelligent way that is totally opposite the behavior of Gogol's own parents. He begins spending most of his time at their home rather than at his own apartment, and he feels effortlessly incorporated into their lives. Eventually, he basically moves into their home with them. Ashima calls to ask him to visit them to see his father off before he leaves to spend nine months at a university outside Cleveland, but the most Gogol will do is stop in for lunch with Maxine on their way to her parents' lake house in New Hampshire.

While Ashima is addressing Christmas cards one quiet day, Ashoke calls at 3 pm and tells her he is at the hospital. His stomach has been bothering him all day, so he has driven himself to the hospital to get it checked out. After two hours, she has not heard from Ashoke and so she calls the hospital. An intern tells her that Ashoke has "expired." He has died from a massive heart attack. Gogol flies to Ohio to identify his father's body and clean out his apartment. The next morning, he flies home to Boston to be with his mother and Sonia. At the house on Pemberton Road, many people come by to sit with them in mourning. Sonia decides to live there with her mother for a while.

A year after Ashoke's death, Gogol has broken up with Maxine. Ashima encourages him to call Moushumi Mazoomdar, the daughter of family friends whom Gogol has grown up around at family parties. She tells him that she moved to Paris to study French literature, and then moved to New York to follow her ex-fiancé, an American named Graham. After the fight that ended their engagement, Moushumi had taken the rest of the semester off from NYU and mourned, finally returning to school in the fall. It was then that she had met Gogol. Gogol and she begin to date seriously.

Within a year of dating, Gogol and Moushumi get married in New Jersey in a ceremony that is almost entirely planned and managed by their parents. They move into an apartment together and get used to married life. They go to Paris in March together; Moushumi is presenting a paper at a conference, so Gogol accompanies her as a vacation. While there, he feels lonely because Moushumi is so obviously at home in the city. Two days after their first wedding anniversary, Moushumi comes across a resume at the university from a man named Dimitri Desjardins whom she knows from her teenage and college years. Moushumi begins having an affair with Dimitri on Mondays and Wednesdays, after she teaches her class. Gogol knows nothing of his wife's affair with Dimitri. He has the vague feeling that something is not right in his marriage with Moushumi, but he can't put his finger on what.

A year later, before Christmas of the year 2000, Ashima is preparing food for the party she will throw that evening. She has decided to move out of the house on Pemberton Road to spend six months at a time in Calcutta with her family and six months in the United States with her children and friends. The reader learns from Ashima's point of view that Sonia and Ben are going to be married in Calcutta in a little over a year, and that Gogol and Moushumi decided to get a divorce. Gogol arrives at the train station before Sonia and Ben are there to meet him. He remembers the year before, how on the train ride from New York to the house at Pemberton Road he had discovered Moushumi's affair with Dimitri. They had spent the holiday at the house on Pemberton Road as planned, but she had left the day after Christmas to go back to New York, and when Gogol returned to the apartment days later, she had packed up and left for good. Now, arriving at the train station a year later, he sees Sonia and Ben pulling up in his mother's car to take him to the house one last time.

Party guests arrive and Gogol goes back to his old bedroom and discovers the book his father had given him so many years ago on his birthday: the collection of short stories by Nikolai Gogol. At the time, he had had no appreciation for it and hadn't even read a single story. Now, he sees the inscription his father has written inside: "The man who gave you his name, from the man who gave you your name." He takes his time, not going downstairs with the camera just yet; he sits down and begins to read “The Overcoat.”

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The Namesake Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for The Namesake is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

Chapter 7 and 8

Sonia is shocked and upset but is better deal with the death than others in the family. When Ashoke dies, she moves home to be with Ashima, leaving behind her life in San Francisco with little regret.

Why does Gogol only feel guilt as the train is leaving after breaking up with Bridget?

I think Gogol thinks of the husband that Bridget is going back to, the husband that they both betrayed.

THE AUTHOR USES THE WORD NIKHIL IS INCLUSIVE OF TWO CULTURES

You've provided all the necessary details... thank you! Nice work!

"Not only is it a perfectly respectable Bengali good name, meaning "he who is entire, encompassing all," but it also bears a satisfying resemblance to Nikolai, the first name of...

Study Guide for The Namesake

The Namesake study guide contains a biography of Jhumpa Lahiri, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  • About The Namesake
  • Character List

Essays for The Namesake

The Namesake essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.

  • Gogol's Search for Greater Understanding
  • The Apple and the Tree: Family Ties in The Namesake and Fences
  • Overcoat Symbolism in The Namesake
  • The Quest for Identity: Symbolic Intricacies
  • Setting and Adaptation in The Namesake

Lesson Plan for The Namesake

  • About the Author
  • Study Objectives
  • Common Core Standards
  • Introduction to The Namesake
  • Relationship to Other Books
  • Bringing in Technology
  • Notes to the Teacher
  • Related Links
  • The Namesake Bibliography

Wikipedia Entries for The Namesake

  • Introduction

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COMMENTS

  1. The Namesake Essay Questions

    The Namesake Essay Questions. 1. Explain how the relationship between Ashoke, Ashima, and Gogol develops throughout the novel. The theme of the relationship between parents and children becomes prominent, as Gogol grows old enough to interact with his parents as a child. During his young adulthood, Gogol is impatient with his parents and they ...

  2. The Namesake Essay Questions

    Thanks for exploring this SuperSummary Study Guide of "The Namesake" by Jhumpa Lahiri. A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.

  3. The Namesake Questions and Answers

    Explore insightful questions and answers on The Namesake at eNotes. Enhance your understanding today!

  4. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

    7. Jhumpa Lahiri has said of The Namesake, "America is a real presence in the book; the characters must struggle and come to terms with what it means to live here, to be brought up here, to belong and not belong here." Did The Namesake allow you to think of America in a new way?

  5. The Namesake Essay Topics

    Thanks for exploring this SuperSummary Study Guide of "The Namesake" by Jhumpa Lahiri. A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.

  6. The Namesake Study Guide

    Genre: Contemporary Immigrant Fiction, Bildungsroman. Setting: Calcutta; Massachusetts; New York. Climax: Debatably, in a novel whose scope spans three decades, the climax comes when Gogol's father, Ashoke, dies unexpectedly, causing Gogol to return toward his family, leave Maxine, and ultimately marry Moushumi.

  7. The Namesake Study Guide

    The Namesake is the first novel by author Jhumpa Lahiri, who was born in the UK to Bengali parents and then moved to the USA as a small child.Like her collection of short stories published in 1999, Interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake focuses on first-generation Indian immigrants and the issues they and their children face in the United States. The Namesake follows the Ganguli family over the ...

  8. DOC Questions for Discussion: The Namesake

    Essay Topics for The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri 1. The Namesake opens with Ashima Ganguli trying to make a spicy Indian snack from American ingredients — Rice Krispies and Planters peanuts — but "as usual, there's something missing."

  9. The Namesake Essay Topics

    The Namesake Essay Topics Instructor Bethany Calderwood Show bio Bethany is a certified Special Education and Elementary teacher with 11 years experience teaching Special Education from grades PK ...

  10. The Namesake Analysis

    to name the boy, but her letter has not yet arrived. Ashoke names his son for the author whose book saved his life. This name is, for Gogol, a despised symbol of his cultural alienation, neither ...

  11. The Namesake Quizzes

    The Namesake study guide contains a biography of Jhumpa Lahiri, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. Best summary PDF, themes, and quotes. More books than SparkNotes.

  12. The Namesake Essay Topics & Writing Assignments

    This comprehensive lesson plan includes 30 daily lessons, 180 multiple choice questions, 20 essay questions, 20 fun activities, and more - everything you need to teach The Namesake!

  13. The Namesake Critical Essays

    Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts. Get 48 Hours Free Access Already a member?

  14. ≡Essays on The Namesake. Free Examples of Research Paper Topics, Titles

    Prompt Examples for "The Namesake" Essays. Identity and Cultural Belonging. Examine the theme of identity and cultural belonging in "The Namesake," considering how characters like Gogol and Ashoke navigate their dual identities.

  15. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, Essay Example

    Introduction: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri is a book about finding one's own identity while on a personal quest of love, strife and laughter. Body: Gogol Ganguli is an American-Indian who has no idea who he is. The book The Namesake takes readers on Gogol's personal journey from life through his mid-thirties- the years when he finally ...

  16. The Namesake Discussion Questions

    The Namesake Discussion Questions. Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree. 'The Namesake' is a novel by Jhumpa Lahiri about ...

  17. The Namesake Themes

    The Namesake essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. The Namesake study guide contains a biography of Jhumpa Lahiri, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  18. Understanding the Namesake: The Significance and Impact of Names in

    Essay Example: In the rich tapestry of human existence, names are not just labels but pivotal threads that weave through our lives, sculpting our identities and interactions. ... For example, in Jhumpa Lahiri's "The Namesake," the protagonist's struggle with his name serves as a poignant exploration of cultural assimilation, familial ...

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    He does not answer questions. Last night, he avoided the question on the war in Gaza. He punted on the opioid crisis and climate change. He makes no appeal to decency, which is Biden's forte (or ...

  20. Harvard Business School Announces 3 New Application Essays

    The essay on being business-minded has a limit of 300 words, and the essays on leadership and growth through curiosity are limited to 250 words each. A third difference is the specific inquiry ...

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    Mr. Rubik, a Hungarian architect, designer, sculptor and retired professor, took part in a question-and-answer session with Dr. Rokicki and his co-organizers, Erik Demaine, a computer scientist at ...

  22. The Namesake Quotes and Analysis

    The Namesake study guide contains a biography of Jhumpa Lahiri, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. Best summary PDF, themes, and quotes. More books than SparkNotes.

  23. Opinion

    We can remember Mr. Spurlock as a #MeToo casualty. Or we can look at him as a model for how people might honestly face up to the harm they've caused — and how the rest of us can better ...

  24. POPNOTES

    One of the greatest war movies of all time, Edward Zwick's "Glory" has just been released, for the first time, in a "limited edition, 4K Ultra HD edition."

  25. The Namesake Summary

    The Namesake study guide contains a biography of Jhumpa Lahiri, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. Best summary PDF, themes, and quotes. More books than SparkNotes.

  26. These classic '60s books shout from the shelves to be read again

    In her essay on the German writer Walter Benjamin, exiled from his home country by war, Arendt seems to implicitly pick up Jacobs's treatise on the importance of a city's sidewalk life ...