AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume 4, Number2. May  2020                                   Pp.3-15

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

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


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.

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.


Abishmathi, A. G. S. (2018 Aug.). Cultural Alienation and the Loss of Identity in Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake. Paper presented at the National Seminar on Transitional Feminism: Literature, Theory and Practice, Sourashtra College, Madurai.

Alfonso-Forero, A. M. (2007). Immigrant Motherhood and Transnationality in Jhumpa Lahiri’s Fiction. Literature Compass, 4(3), 851-861.

Ashcroft, B., Griffins, G., & Tiffin, H. (1995). Post-colonial Studies: The Key Concepts. London: Routledge.

Bhabha, H. K. (1994). The Location of Culture. London: Routledge.

Bhabha, H. K. (1988). The Commitment to Theory. New Foundations, 5(summer edition), 5-23.

Brah, A. (1997). Cartographies of Diaspora: Contesting Identities. London: Routledge.

Choubey, A. (2013). Jhumpa Lahiri’s Gogol: In Search of Identity for the Nowhere Man. Linguistics and Literature Studies, 1(1), 1-7.

Dawes, T. (2007). The Namesake: A Struggle for Identity. Mako: NSU Undergraduate Student Journal, 1(1), 1-10.

Dubey, A. (2002). Immigrant Experience in Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies. The Journal of Indian Writing in English, 30(2), 22-26.

Heinze, R. (2007). A DIASPORIC OVERCOAT? Naming and affection in Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake. Journal of Post-colonial Writing, 43(2), 191-202.

JanMohamed, A. R. 1985. The Economy of Manichean Allegory: The Function of Racial  Difference in Colonialist Literature. Critical Inquiry, 12(1), 59-87.

Lahiri, J. (2003). The Namesake. New York: Mariner Books.

Mishra, K. C. (2008). Identity and Naming Culture in The Namesake. New Delhi: Pencraft International.

Peterson, K. H., & Rutherford, A. (1995). Fossils and Psyche. Post-colonial Studies: The Key Concepts. London: Routledge. 185-189.

Puri, P. (2015). Rereading Identity: A Study of Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake. Galaxy International Multidisciplinary Research Journal, 4(3), 31-36.

Schaffner, C., & Adab, B. (2001). The Idea of the Hybrid Text in Translation Revisited.  Across Languages and Cultures, 2(2), 277-302.

Taş, M. R., & Snömez, A. V. (2014). The Feeling of Alienation in The Namesake by Jhumpa  Lahiri. Global Journal of Human Social Science Research, 14(6-A), 19-25.

Wolf, M.& Fukari, A. (2007). Constructing a Sociology of Translation. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamin Publishing Company.


Prof. Sura Mohammad Khrais is a Professor of English literature at Al Balqa Applied University. Her research interests include modern fiction and literary translation. She translated The Namesake to Arabic and was published in 2016 by KALIMA translation project, Abu Dhabi,
UAE. https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9244-1329