Good Essay On What Did You Learn About The Culture(S) In This Film?

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Family, Parents, Culture, America, United States, Cinema, Life, Film

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/12/18

The film: The Namesake (2007)

Culture is what makes us who we are. No matter where we go, our culture gives us an identity. For instance, Gogol is divided between two cultures, those of his parents and the American culture. The struggles his parents pass through as immigrants are all about culture. Ashoke and his wife bring a lot of love to the film in their relationship as well as to their son. Their embarrassment in having to deal with a new culture can be felt. Although the film is full of tensions, it expresses an encouraging trust in family unity. It avoids the truism of putting rebellious immigrant children in inclined battles against custom-bound parents from the parent country and assumes that the strongest bonds that hold the social order together are blood ties. Moreover, it is full of stunning music, both from the modern artists and traditional Indian music as it compares the family struggles between two distinct cultures. The decision by Ahsima to sell the suburban family house and return to Calcutta to her culture brings harmony and puts an end to the film.

How did it challenge your thinking or values?

I think it made me think about my identity and how I can maintain my culture while living in a place with a different culture. For instance, in the film people with the same culture seem to find each other and come together. Close ties are made with other Indian immigrants, dashing of curry powder on Rice Kris pies, moving a split-level suburban house, and sending the children to college. It appears that Gogol cannot find a way to get home. He spends much of his time away from home, not at Maxine’s, not in Calcutta, and not in his house on Pemberton Road. Moreover, it seems that he is not the only one who is having trouble finding a place to live because most of the characters in the movie seek to create their homes, and the houses they stay in are a reflection of their personalities. The Ratliffs, who are rich, stay in a wealthy mansion. Gogol’s house seems to be with much space and depressing. His parent’s first flat is small and confined but full of love. It can be argued that if homes are a reflection of identity in the movie, then Gogol experiences indicate his struggles in finding and creating a lasting home. His career gives him an advantage because if he cannot find a home, he can build one for himself. Towards the end of the movie, the house on Pemberton Road became a real home for Gogol’s family, which reflects the years they lived together as a family. On the issue of family, the movie is full of different kinds of families, the extended Bengali family and its traditions, smaller nuclear families, American families, divorced parents families, young parents, and mixed race families. The movie does not indicate which type of family is better.

How might you make sense of the film and the people’s lives within it?

The movie looks at two sides of immigration: the modification faced by a young couple who move to a new land and the struggles of their children to unite their parent’s culture with their own American customs. The narration is about middle class mobile immigrant from India divided between modernity and tradition, as they get deep into the American culture. Their longing for their origins provides a touching undertow to the film that lacks melodrama. The film is stable with daily life habits and its profound respect for characters. Ashima, a trained singer in classical music, and Ashoke Ganguli, who desires to be an engineer, move to America in 1977 after they get married in Calcutta. During their married, Ashima’s mother in law warned her that life in New York would be tough and it will be far from acquaintances, and relatives she knew. The film expresses a flagrant sense of humans as living, breathing living things that are more intricate than what is indicated by their words

How could anthropology apply to the film?

The film describes India, Paris, and America through characters with much detail. It gives us a sense of life in all these regions as well as the meaning of each country to different characters. Most Indian and Indian American characters view India as a country that embodies custom, tradition, and heritage. To the children of the Indian immigrants, india seems to them like a place that is backward and less familiar. On the other hand, America is an uncomfortable country for the Indian and Indian American characters because their lives is a mixture of Indian and American cultures. Europe, however, appears to the place of freedom, free from identities of America and India. The introduction of Ashima into the American culture is full of calm and entertaining moments. She writes home about the American life amenities, running water and availability of gas for 24 hours a day. Gas stoves that work for 24 hours a day astonish her and she learns in a hard way that wool sweaters should not be placed into washing machines. Through prologue, we go back to Ashoke’s life where we learn the turning point of his life. In a train trip to visit his grandfather in 1974, he is advised by a gracious stranger to leave India and experience the humankind. Ashoke is reading “The Overcoat,” a famous story by Nikolai Gogol, a Russian writer who spent a great deal of his life away from his home. Ashoke survives unbelievably when the train crashes later. Searchers identify his injured body after some pages from the book he was reading are observed flapping in the dark. Then the Gogol story becomes a totem in his life, a sign of the bond between him and his country and a good luck sign. After going for studies in America, he comes back and finds his parents had approved a marriage for him. In America, the couple uses their time walking and chatting around each other as well as making love gently. It seems easier than it might have been because as an arranged marriage between two right people, their respect and regard keeps growing. Everything changes when his son is born years later. First, he is told that the infant cannot leave the hospital without being given a name. The Indian culture allows a number of years to pass by before children are given a formal name, which is chosen by the maternal grandmother. Hastily, Ashok calls his son Gogol. As the baby grows up, his ambivalence about his brief name that he holds refuses and becomes a sign for his divided cultural identity. Although a daughter, Sonia, is also born to them, the boy then becomes the core stage of the story. The boy’s name is neither American nor Indian but an encouragement to his father by his favorite author. During the adolescent period, the boy came to hate the name and changed it to Nikolai, his own first name. On the other hand, Gogol has its reasons especially for his father, who mentions Gogol’s novel, “Overcoat” more often. Secondly, although the parents stick to their Bengali origins and traditions, the children as adolescents grow far away. In secondary school, Gogol rebels from his family and his manners are like that of a usual American teenager. During a visit to Calcutta, Gogol and Sonia scorn at Indian customs. Gogol falls in love with Maxina, after pursuing architecture at Yale, a gorgeous girl from Long Island. When he brings her lover to his home to meet his family, cultural tensions go up as the two lovers have to hold back any physical affection expressions according to Indian customs. Few years later, Ashoke learns of the death of his parents and Ashima finds out about the death of her mother. They both learn about the deaths through phone calls. Eventually, Gogol falls in love with Moushumi, an attractive Bengali woman who before coming to the United States lived a free wheeling life in Paris. Although she is culturally his female counterpart, she seems as culturally confused as he is. His parents prefer Moushiumi, but the movie discloses that second generation children do not always follow what their parents tell them. The relationship goes through troubles. Gogol’s father dies and Gogol is left with guilty. He eventually abandons Maxine and begins staying with his family more often. After the death of his father, he finds Moushumi and they fall in love. Gogol finally feels contented with his Indian – American identity. After one year of dating, they get married but they end up divorcing because Moushumi has an affair with Dimitri Desjardins. During Christmas Eve in 2000, Gogol, now single, assists his mother to set up their family home and prepare for last Christmas Eve festivity. During the packing, he finds the book of Nikolai Gogol that his father gave him for his fourteenth birthday. Years later, lastly Gogol begins to read the book. This is a sign that he has finally identified who he is.

Works Cited

Ortner, Sherry B. Anthropology and Social Theory: Culture, Power, and the Acting Subject. Durham: Duke University, 2006. Print.
The Namesake. Dir. Mira Nair. Perf. Tabu, et al. 2007.

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Good Essay On What Did You Learn About The Culture(S) In This Film?. Free Essay Examples - Published Dec 18, 2020. Accessed April 17, 2024.

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