What's in a Name? Essay

Submitted By brinabooker
Words: 931
Pages: 4

Brina M Booker
Professor Warren
English 2309 – 700
7/18/13
What is in a Name? The Namesake is an incredible coming of age story of a young man who grows up struggling to determine who he is inside and what exactly his identity is. Gogol or Nikhil’s internal conflict of finding the meaning behind his name starts simple as a child. Later on as he gets older he tries to make sense of his identity between the two entirely different worlds he is torn between, and you read the conflict that it produces in all his relationships. Gogol or Nikhil struggles with finding himself between his parent’s home country of India and the country he was born in, America. The first sign of conflict with Gogol you read about shows on his first day of school. At the simple age of five his parents tell him that since he is now going to school he is to use his "good name." People in India are given two names: a pet name, which is only used by their family, and a good name that is used by others. Gogol is a pet name, and Gogol’s good name is Nikhil. On his first day of school, you read how resistant and uncomfortable Gogol is with this good name. Gogol or Nikhil does not understand why he has to be called a name that he has not been called ever or that no one he knows has called him by. To a child something so simple to an adult is not so simple, and vise versa. Later, at an early teen year, he comes to comprehend the strangeness of his pet name. His school takes his class on a field trip, to which they go to a graveyard. He then starts to take note that he is the only one to hold a name like his. He then decides not to share his new awareness with anyone. He starts to be ashamed of his name, “And so it occurs to him that no one he knows in the world, in Russia or India or America or anywhere, shares his name. Not even the source of his namesake" (p.78.). For the next few years, Gogol remains bewildered and aggravated with his name. He later discovers the true grounds for which his father gave him his pet name. Ashoke tells Gogol the story of the train, and how he was holding on to a page from "The Overcoat," a short story written by Nikolai Gogol. He finishes by telling his son that he represented the second miracle in his life because the first miracle was that he survived the train accident. In college, Gogol’s anxiety increases when a professor chooses to study a short story from the writer Gogol in class. Gogol is disturbed as soon as he reads the cover of the book with Gogol on it. "The writer he is named after--Gogol isn't his real name. His first name is Nikolai. Not only does Gogol Ganguli have a pet name turned good name, but a last name turned first name.” (p 78) During a party at college one night, Gogol ends up being alone with a girl. When she asked Gogol what his name was, he says: “I’m Nikhil.” This gives another example that proves to the reader the confound wonder that Gogol/Nikhil is fighting himself regarding his identity. Later when he tells his friends who call him Gogol about the kiss, he fails to reveal to them that he told the girl that his name was Nikhil, "but he cannot imagine saying "Hi, it's Gogol" under any circumstance" (p.76.).. You can see the fight he has that in that he…