Essay on Belonging: Jhumpa Lahiri and Sense

Submitted By laurenrobinson96
Words: 1366
Pages: 6

Explore how perceptions of belonging and not belonging can be influenced by connections to places.

In your response, refer to your prescribed text and at least ONE other related text of your own choosing.

Opinions of a sense of belonging and a sense of segregation are influenced strongly by the connection that place provides. ‘The Namesake’ (2003) by Jhumpa Lahiri and ‘The Green Mile’ (1993) directed by Frank Darabont although explore differing plots, both present the influence that place had for an individual to feel accepted or feel separated. Through the use of cinematic devices and textual form both texts present the significance of place in order to present the way one belongs and doesn’t belong. Conforming to stereotypes given by others, forcing someone to stretch comfort zones as well as the feeling of comfort to place are ways in which a human’s sense of belonging or not belonging can be further achieved by both Lahiri and Darabont. Both composers further ensure their characters break barriers or make choices to determine their status in their sense of belonging to further present these connections to place. Stereotypes based on characteristics such as race or gender can damage a sense of belonging for an individual, especially when place is involved in their ability to feel accepted. Stereotypes can either ensure a person holds a strong inclusion to place because of a similarity or is alienated completely because of a difference. Lahiri uses this idea within her text because it further establishes her position on whether she wants her characters to present a belonging or non-belonging state. She demonstrates this through the character of Gogol as she presents him fully aware of the culture that separates his parents from Americans. With Lahiri’s use of symbolism the reader understands the social difference along with cultural differences that Gogol’s parents Ashima and Ashoke have because of their Indian heritage. Displayed in the quote “For by now he is aware … of cashiers smirking at his parent’s accents, and of salesmen who prefer to direct their conversation to Gogol,” it is possible to understand the contribution stereotypes have towards a sense of belonging when connecting to place because of its hold on belonging and not belonging. From the use of symbolism, we see simply from the reaction that people are overcome by when coming face to face with difference. This idea of stereotyping is similarly portrayed to place in ‘The Green Mile’ as the director Darabont emphasizes the stereotype of an imposing, African American criminal would obtain is not what it would seem. From his use of dull lighting over the actors face, Darabont presents a sense of fear as well as a strong disconnection from place. This is accompanied with dialogue where the prisoner admits that he gets ‘a little scared in the dark sometimes. If it’s a strange place.’ This sense of discomfort ingeniously goes against what John’s stereotypes would come across presenting his sense of disconnection from place where he feels a sense of not belonging. From the texts we gather that a sense of alienation is possible when a stereotype is placed onto a person, which limits their connection to place as well as their ability to feel like they are accepted. Limitations is something that a sense of belonging prevents because of a person’s mental process when coming face to face with possible scenarios that may cause the individual to feel like they are outside of their comfort zone. A comfort zone is what holds someone back from conforming to activities that others think of as normal and stress-free. The issue of needing to exit comfort zones to conform to place is explored in ‘The Namesake’, where character Ashima distinguishes a separation between herself and an American way of life. This is visible in the quote where she explains her fears associated with her surroundings that are outside the