“But you’re Indian!” Cultural Hybridity and Assimilation in The Namesake

AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume 4, Number2. May  2020                                   Pp.3-15
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24093/awejtls/vol4no2.1

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“But you’re Indian!” Cultural Hybridity and Assimilation in
The Namesake 

Sura Mohammad Khrais
Department of English Language and Literature
Al-Balqa Applied University
Amman, Jordan

 

 

 

 Abstract:
This paper is a study of the cultural struggle and conflict survived by the protagonists in The Namesake (2003) by Jhumpa Lahiri as they move from their native land to America. It is an application of the theoretical concepts of hybridity and assimilation, as discussed in post-colonial criticism by critics such as Homi Bhabha. The researcher will discuss how the three main characters finally manage to develop new anti-monolithic models of cultural growth and exchange. As a result, they succeed in embracing a new culture while protecting their Bengali heritage. The novel depicts the life of an Indian couple (Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli) who settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1968. It describes the cultural challenges the heroine faces as she struggles to accommodate to a new Western society. Ashima clings tightly to her Bengali roots and identity, a fact which becomes apparent through the dilemma caused over naming their first baby. However, to survive the challenges of Massachusetts’ society, Ashima welcomes its culture to a certain extent. Thus, she succeeds in overcoming feelings of loneliness and displacement. On the other hand, Ashoke’s adjustment is less complicated. Although he copes with the new Western life faster, his respect for his native traditions is daily observed. His resentment of his children’s attempt to give up their native identity is heartbreaking. Early in the novel, Gogol rejects symbols of his Indian culture, and later he repudiates his parents’ style of life. Finally and after his father’s death, Gogol’s personal growth is associated not only with him welcoming his native culture, but also embracing both cultures in an excellent example of cultural hybridity.
 Keywords: alienation, assimilation, contact zone, cultural clash, Jhumpa Lahiri, hybrid existence, The Namesake,  ‘third space,’ trans-cultural identity 

Cite as: Khrais, S. M. (2020). “But you’re Indian!” Cultural Hybridity and Assimilation in
The Namesake. Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies 4 (2) .3-15.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24093/awejtls/vol4no2.1

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