Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake: A Treatment of Angst
In Jhumpa Lahiri’s debut novel The Namesake, a certain amount of angst can be traced. This angst works as havoc upon the protagonist of the novel, Gogol Ganguly and this also puts a certain impact upon his parents, especially on his mother, Ashima Ganguly. The term ‘Angst’ which is actually German in origin, refers to a feeling of deep anxiety in human mind. This ‘angst’ that is anxiety finds a great place in Gogol because of the name ‘Gogol’ given by his parents at the time of his birth. This name appears to the protagonist to be something that will not be fitting one in American culture that he prefers more to Indian culture. Gogol, in order to overcome the post-colonial (psychological) and identical angst has decided to change his name from ‘Gogol’ to ‘Nikhil’. It is worth mentioning here that Gogol changed his name into ‘Nikhil’ not only because of the angst that exists in his mind but also for the fact that Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol, the author of the writings like- “The Overcoat”, Dead Souls ; after whose name the protagonist of Lahiri’s novel The Namesake is named especially by his father Ashoke , has laid a very tragic life particularly towards the end of his life and it is because of this very feeling felt by Gogol that his name is related to someone who has laid almost a tragic life. Actually Ashoke named his son, Gogol after his birth because after the devastating train accident, it was a page from Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol’s short story “The Overcoat” that had helped to survive. Except the post-colonial, there is also another kind of angst which is related to identity. On the one hand, Gogol Indianness achieved by his origin and on the other hand, Americanness achieved by his dwelling right (citizenship) are in a state of oscillation to each other and there by neither of his identity is constant and fixed but fluid and flux.