The story of ‘Nameseake is an interesting illustration of confliction emotions of generations that affected the life of the central characters intensely. The story begins with the child of ‘Ashok and Shisha in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The couple belonged to Bengali tradition which has the norm of naming the child in a ceremony, but in contrast to their traditions, they had to name the child soon after release from a hospital because of the formality of name filling in a birth certificate. This step is shown to be the first phase of the family turning their face from the root of their traditions. The couple named the child over the name of Russian novelist because of an event that left the deep impact on the life of his father. Hence, as an act of respect and gratitude, he named his child as Gagoli. This is shown got be the second conflicting concern that confronts traditions of the family as the name was completely new to the traditional and cultural heritage of the family.
Gogoli was raised as an individual who was born into borrowed culture that left him intensely inspired from American Pop culture in contrast to his own. It was the inspiration from American culture that made him rebellious towards his traditions and inspired him to adopt looks and attributes that could make him sound like an American. Hence, with this purpose, Gagoli changed his name as Nikhil at the time of taking admission in college. Though, in the family, he was still called with his original name. This specific point sticking in the tradition and making efforts to break all connections with the norm is the element of confusion and conflict in the story. The effect of this dispute influences each of the relation of Gagoli. Firstly it affected his relationship with his father with whom he started building distance as somewhere in his subconscious it was the thought in his mind that his connection with his father is the bond that has kept him intact with his traditional heritage and norms. He then started mating girls with Anglo American girls just to cut the cord with his traditions by getting involved in the girl of an entirely different culture and background.
He started growing intimate to Maxine. She was also Anglo-African and had the completely different background then that of Gagoli. This point became the center of interest to Gagoli, and he began getting involved in the family of Maxine. He started dealing with his family as if it was his family. However, in making efforts to be a part of Maxine family and getting close to them, he almost got disconnected with his family and left them unattended. His unnecessary inspiration with the American culture and instense desire to intermingle with a native culture made him close his eyes towards his root. However, in this process, he lost his father and didn’t even spare some time to meet with him and say goodbye. At this point, the pain and suffering resulted from the conflict of reconciling different cultures of society is the focus of the story. It displays the impact of this conflict on the personality of an individual. Gagoli is shown to be overwhelmed with the thought of leaving his father in his life in efforts to get disconnected from his tradition.
The character of Maxine and the nature of his father are shown as the two polar zones of conflicting values and traditions, the state depicts the essence of American culture versus the Indian culture. The effect of this conflict led Gagoli to get close to Maxine in the earlier phase at time when he was ambitious towards getting indulged in other tradition. However, as soon as he realized the strength of his tradition and values, he found the traditions of Maxine less important than his traditions. Thus,that is Gagoli lost interest in Maxine and left her after the demise of his father. This event made it evident that Gagoli was not able to reconcile or balance in between the cultures;that is, from the one from which he belong, and the one in which he was living.
The other measure for analyzing the impact of the influence of this conflict of culture could be witnessed with the study of Gagoli’s relations with Moushumi. He met her after leaving Maxine. She was used to studying with her in college. She belonged to the same traditional and cultural background. He felt immediately comfortable with her and get married to her after a yearlong dating. Although, marriage brought the two characters together, still the conflict of traditions was the evident factor as the different styles and preferences of the two people were profoundly influenced by it. The liberal attitude and open style of West took over Moushumi, and she started getting involved in another person by having an extramarital affair with a guy named Dimitri Desjardins.
Hence, the clear message of the story when considered from the perspective of cultural conflicts is that the essence of the two different cultures is quite contrasting against each other, While Indian culture is submissive, the American culture is liberal. Being called as American Indian is a sign of confusion and imbalance by default. Hence, the conformity of the two traditions with the single set of values is not possible. It is only the conflict of conduct that instigates when two cultures get mixed. He himself was the first example of this contradiction with subsequent imbalance and soon after getting married to Moushumi he had the same experience with her. Under the influence of western traaditions she left him and carried an extramarital affair. However, at the end of the story, Gagoli is shown to have adjusted to the situation when he is presented to find the novel by his name. This novel was gifted to him by his father on his fourteenth birthday long before. His calm attitude and concentration while reading shows that balance could only be achieved in such multi-cultural spaces with attention focus and dedication over personal values only.
Lahiri, Jhumpa. The Namesake. 1st ed. London: Fourth Estate, 2003. Print.