Close Reading Analysis of The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Essay by rwuhawk2010College, UndergraduateB, September 2008

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Transcending historical timelines and extending beyond cultural barriers, one common thread uniting and preserving the human race is the ability to create life. The ultimate phenomenon is that of the female, who possesses within her the power and capacity to sustain another human life within her own body alone. For centuries, it has been the responsibility of women to carry on the tradition of life-making, thereby ensuring a familial and cultural future. Without women and the ritualistic tradition of motherhood, the future of a culture lacks certainty and stability. In her novel, The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri offers a new approach to the often unquestioned maternal instinct, highlighting a silent outcry for a woman's much needed sense of self, apart from domestic impulse.

Lahiri awakens readers to the belief and realization that some women lead deprived lives, capping their actual desires by only fulfilling a deep rooted tradition of responding to the natural preoccupation of familial futurism.

For many, the role of mother is anticipatory, gratifying, and fulfilling; while for others, motherhood is anxiety-ridden, undesired, burdensome, and even unwarranted. During the time of pregnancy, a woman supports the unborn child who remains completely and entirely dependent upon its mother for nourishment, comfort and survival. The relationship between mother and child cannot be characterized by love, for the child is incapable of reciprocating back to the mother anything physical or emotional. The bond is therefore rendered one sided, not symbiotic, with the mother sharing and sacrificing her own life, and psychologically experiencing a loss of that life and self after the child's birth. A pregnancy quietly imbeds itself within a woman's biology and begins to inhibit the body like a foreign entity, encapsulating the mind, body and everyday life of the female. A mother naturally gives everything to the child that which...