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Published: 11-11-2019

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Overcoat Symbolism in The Namesake

Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake is a story that is parallel to Nikolai Gogol’s quick story The Overcoat. Gogol’s function is commended and pointed out countless occasions by Lahiri in her writing. The Overcoat is about a man named Akaky Akakievich, who, at 1st, is content material with his life then begins to query his identity. In an try to greater himself, he replaces his old overcoat with a freshly-tailored a single, and everybody envies it. At the instant his overcoat is robbed from him, not a single particular person lent him a helping hand. In The Namesake, an overcoat is one’s identity, a burden that everyone possesses, and it can reveal or conceal a character’s accurate colours.

Each name is an overcoat. Gogol Ganguli, the major protagonist, was named following Nikolai Gogol, the author of the story that saved his father’s life in a massive train wreck. “With a slight quiver of recognition, as if he’d known it all along, the excellent pet name for his son happens to Ashoke… ‘Gogol,’ he repeats, satisfied” (Lahiri, 28). This name “was the initial issue his father had given him” (Lahiri, 289) and it was presented with a goal. It so takes place that Gogol’s life bares resemblance to Akaky’s. For instance, Akaky discovers that his shame is possibly the outcome of possessing an ugly overcoat, just as Gogol finds shame in becoming Gogol. “He believed that the sin may possibly possibly lie with the overcoat” (Gogol, 400). When Akaky wears he his overcoat, Akaky suddenly changes, becoming the total opposite of himself. During the celebration, he “dined cheerfully and wrote nothing right after dinner…” (Gogol, 410). This is similar to how Gogol transforms when he changes his name to Nikhil. “But now that he’s Nikhil it is less complicated to ignore his parents, to tune out their issues and pleas… It is as Nikhil, that 1st semester, that he grows a goatee, begins smoking Camel Lights at parties…, gets himself a fake ID that enables him to be served liquor…, loses his virginity…” (Namesake, 105). By wearing Nikhil, Gogol becomes the version of himself that he discovered the most happiness in. In the method, a new character was revealed along with his traits, character, niches and tendencies.

An overcoat can reveal a character. In the novel, Gogol is involved in a adore affair with Maxine Ratliff. The name Maxine means “the greatest, maximum.” She represents the epiphany of American females: intelligent, sophisticated, and sexually uninhibited. Her outgoing character and openness to Gogol appealed to him and produced her look as though she was excellent for him, hence being the greatest. “He is curious about her, attracted, flattered by the boldness of her pursuit” (Lahiri, 130). The closer Gogol is with her, the more naked she becomes to him. It is the way she accepts herself that tends to make her special and diverse from Gogol. “She has the gift of accepting her life as he comes to know her, he realizes that she has never wished she were anybody other than herself, raised in any other spot, in any other way. This, in his opinion, is the greatest difference in between them, a issue far a lot more foreign to him than the gorgeous home she’d grown up in, her education at private schools” (Lahiri, 138). Just as an overcoat can expose every thing about a character, it is able to do the complete opposite.

An overcoat can also conceal a character. Moushumi implies “A damp southwesterly breeze” (Lahiri, 240). A breeze comes and goes, like Moushumi’s past and present. When Gogol had 1st observed her at pujos when they were teenagers, she was a quiet character and often had her nose in a book. At the time when they formally met, at the insistence of their parents, she was striking and bold, a significant shift in personalities. “She was specifically the same particular person, looked and behaved the exact same way, and however suddenly, in that new city, she was transformed into the sort of girl she had after envied, had believed she would never ever become.” (Lahiri 215). The breeze is also a symbol of the coming and going of males in her life. “She permitted the guys to acquire her drinks, dinners, later to take her in taxis to their apartments…” (Lahiri, 215). Unfortunately, Gogol became a victim of Moushumi’s breeze when Moushumi decided to have an extramarital affair with her high college pen pal. Every thing is a just a “breeze” for Moushumi, a happy-go-fortunate soul that slyly wanders from location to spot and person to person. Her overcoat concealed her from the ones she “cared” about, particularly Gogol. She demands her overcoat, but it is a hindrance that does not appear to change.

Overcoats are necessary, but can become a burden. In the novel, the primary protagonist goes back and forth with becoming Gogol and Nikhil. At initial, he is comfortable in his own overcoat on the first day of kindergarten, then he starts to” save up money” for a new overcoat as the story progresses. It is when he becomes old adequate that he replaces his former overcoat. Gogol’s name adjust symbolizes his transition into adulthood as he deserts the childhood ties that come with his daknam. Nikhil was Gogol’s new overcoat. Nikhil means “he who is complete, encompassing all”, something that Gogol believed he was following he had his name legally changed. “He wonders if this is how it feels for an obese particular person to turn into thin, for a prisoner to walk free” (Lahiri, 102). The Gogol overcoat became a burden to him simply because it prevented him matching his expectations and from becoming the version of himself that he envied. “He hates that his name is both absurd and obscure, that it has nothing to do with who he is, that it is neither Indian nor American but of all issues Russian. He hates getting to live with it, with a pet name turned good name, day right after day, second soon after second” (Lahiri, 76). On the other hand, Nikhil was a burden to his household. As he gets closer with Maxine and mainstream American culture, Gogol strays farther his family members. When Ashoke dies, he carries the guilt that comes with getting so distant from his loved ones. It was then that he decides to accept Gogol back into his life, but on his personal terms. “Nikhil will live on, publicly celebrated, as opposed to Gogol, purposely hidden, legally diminished, now all but lost” (Lahiri, 290). He nevertheless chooses to conceal Gogol despite accepting him. An overcoat can either define a person or a individual can define it.

Every person has an overcoat. Everybody needs an overcoat. It’s defined by one’s name, culture, upbringing, accidents, losses, relationships. All that transpired in Gogol’s life had a goal, that it was not in vain. He was destined to discover The Overcoat in his area. He was destined to be a youngster of Bengali immigrants, to live in America, to turn out to be an architect, to locate adore numerous occasions and fail as numerous times, to live when his father ceased to. He was destined to grow to be Nikhil only to grow to be Gogol again, but he had to choose to accept himself on his personal terms, as the other character’s did, selecting to hide behind their overcoats or become proud of it. Regardless, “We all came out of Gogol’s overcoat” (Lahiri, 78).
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