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In The Namesake, different characters have different definitions of home. For Ashima, it’s clear that her definition of home is India, where the rest of her family lives. She never considers Massachusetts or any of the apartments and houses that her family lives in as her home. Unlike Ashima, Gogol does not have one distinct definition of home, and readers see that he is constantly searching for where he feels at home.

Throughout the novel, Gogol is not only searching for his identity but also his definition of home. As a child, he is born into a small, cramped apartment, and then he eventually moves to the house on Pemberton Road. As a teenager, he lives in India for eight months. In college, he lives in dorm rooms and eventually moves to New York City after graduating. At some point in life, he lives and stays with girlfriends. Home is not India, “a possibility that . . . has never even remotely crossed his mind.” In college, he “makes the mistake of referring to New Haven as home,” leaving his mother outraged. For a while, Gogol lives with his girlfriend Maxine in her parents’ house, but her parents “continue to lord, however blindly, over their days. It is the books he reads, and the music he listens to. Their front door he unlocks when he gets back from work.”

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After a time, however, readers see that Gogol begins to change his ways. In Chapter 8, he meets Moushumi, and for the first time in his life, he is attracted to an Indian woman after exclusively dating American women. They marry in Chapter 9, much to their parents’ delight. Gogol is “aware that together he and Moushumi are fulfilling a collective, deep-seated desire—because they’re both Bengali, everyone can let their hair down a bit.” In his younger years, living up to his parents’ Indian expectations would have annoyed him, but as he gets older, Gogol becomes more accepting of his heritage and its traditions and customs. He begins to realize that being Indian, and also American, is what gives him an individual perception of the world. His definition of a home includes an acceptance of American culture. Finally, Gogol settles on the idea that home is realizing who you are as a person in this world.

In conclusion, Gogol’s definition of home is always based on the culture of which he feels more part. He doesn’t fit in with his American friends because of his Indian heritage—something that bothers him to the point that he legally changes his name. Also, he doesn’t fit in with his Indian family because of his American attitude. However, as he grows up, he becomes more and more immersed in his culture.

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