Contra Acculturation in Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake

Authors : Sr. Manju Jacob, Chakkoria Deena David

Volume/Issue : Volume 2 - 2017, Issue 10 - October

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Nilanjana Sudeshna, who is well known as Jhumpa Lahiri, is one of the second generation immigrants in the USA and acknowledged as one of the women writers in Indian English literature for her Indian themes. She is a recent new wave literary artist and has won Pulitzer Prize for her short story collection Interpreter of Maladies (1999). She is a multicultural, diasporic, postcolonial, marginal South Asian Woman writer. This study concentrates on the cultural dilemmas of displacement, marginality, alienation and nostalgia faced by the Indian immigrants. It highlights Ashima’s acute sense of loss, pain and nostalgia for the native land and heightens her feelings of alienation and at times of deep despair. She is a true representative of a trishanku existence. Gogol, the second generation expatriate, is schizophrenic as he is torn between two nations India and America; between two names Indian and Russian; between two value systems, traditions and conventions, openness and the let go attitude, between science and creativity. And in this sense Gogol somewhere becomes a biographical character where Lahiri tries to give a tongue to the feelings of immigrants in the character of Gogol and tries and unravel the enormously disturbing truths about them. He tries to assimilate the host culture but he fails to acculturate it completely. Ashima and Gogol demonstrate the lives of hybridity, inbetweeness and liminality. It is their contra-acculturation and rooting for India that allows them peace and consolation in moments of catharsis. Through an extensive study of Gogol’s thought processes and decisions, actions and experiences, contra-acculturation is essentialised as ‘spiritual odyssey’ yielding him the much needed peace and solace.

Keywords : Trishanku, Spiritual Odyssey, Contra Acculturation, Catharsis, Nostalgia, Expatriate.


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