The Namesake is the first novel by American author Jhumpa Lahiri. It was a novel published in The New Yorker and was expanded to a full-length novel, it explores many of the same emotional and cultural themes as her Pulitzer Prize-winning short story collection Interpreter of Maladies. Moving between events in Calcutta and New York City, the novel examines the nuances involved with being caught between two conflicting cultures with distinct religious and ideological differences; the story begins as Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli, a young Bengali couple, leave Calcutta and settle in Central Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ashoke is an engineering student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Ashima struggles through language and cultural barriers as well as her own fears as she delivers her first child alone. Had the delivery taken place in Calcutta, she would have had the baby at home, surrounded by family; the delivery is successful, but the new parents learn they cannot leave the hospital before giving their son a legal name.
The traditional naming process in their families is to have an elder who will give the new baby a name, the parents waited for the letter from Ashima's grandmother. The letter never arrives, soon after, the grandmother dies. Bengali culture calls for a child to have two names, a pet name to be called by family, a good name to be used in public. Ashoke suggests the name of Gogol, in honor of the famous Russian author Nikolai Gogol, to be the baby's pet name, they use this name on the birth certificate; as a young man, Ashoke survived a train derailment with many fatalities. He had been reading a short story collection by Gogol just before the accident, lying in the rubble of the accident he clutched a single page of the story "The Overcoat" in his hand. With many broken bones and no strength to move or call out, dropping the crumpled page is the only thing Ashoke can do to get the attention of medics looking for survivors. Though the pet name has deep significance for the baby's parents, it is never intended to be used by anyone other than family.
Gogol grows up perplexed by his pet name. Entering kindergarten, the Gangulis inform their son; the five-year-old objects, school administrators intervene on his behalf, sending him home with a note pinned to his shirt stating that he would be called Gogol at school, as was his preference. By the time he turns 14, he starts to hate the name, his father tries once to explain the significance of it, but he senses that Gogol is not old enough to understand. As Gogol progresses through high school, he resents his name more and more for its oddness and the strange genius for whom he was named; when he informs his parents that he wishes to change his name, his father objects to the idea but reluctantly agrees. Shortly before leaving for college, Gogol changes his name to Nikhil Ganguli; this change in name and Gogol's going to Yale, rather than following his father's footsteps to MIT, sets up the barriers between Gogol and his family. The distance, both geographically and between Gogol and his parents continues to increase.
He wants to be American, not Bengali. He goes home less dates American girls, becomes angry when anyone calls him Gogol. During his college years, he smokes cigarettes and marijuana, goes to many parties, loses his virginity to a girl he cannot remember; as he is going home for the summer, Gogol's train is stopped and temporarily loses electricity. A man had jumped in front of the train and committed suicide, the wait for the authorities causes a long delay. Ashoke, waiting at the train station for Gogol, becomes concerned when he calls the train company and hears of this incident; when they pull into the Ganguli's driveway, Ashoke turns off the car and explains the true significance of Gogol's name. Gogol is troubled by this news, asking his father why he didn't tell him this earlier, he starts to regret changing his identity. After graduating from Columbia University, Gogol obtains a small apartment in New York City, where he lands a job in an established architectural office, he is rather stiff personality-wise, perpetually angry or else always on the lookout for someone to make a stereotypical comment about his background.
At a party, Gogol meets a attractive and outgoing girl named Maxine, with whom he begins a relationship. Maxine's parents are financially well off and live in a four-story house in New York City, with one floor occupied by Maxine. Gogol moves in with her, becomes an accepted member of her family; when Maxine's parents visit her grandparents in the mountains of New Hampshire for the summer, they invite Maxine and Gogol to join them for a couple of weeks. Gogol introduces Maxine to his parents. Ashima dismisses Maxine as something that Gogol will get over. Shortly after this meeting, Ashoke dies of a heart attack. Gogol travels to Ohio to gather his father's belongings and his father's ashes, in attempting to sort out his emotions, Gogol withdraws from Maxine breaking up with her, he begins to spend more time with Sonia. Ashima suggests that Gogol contact Moushumi, the daughter of one of her friends, whom Gogol knew when they were children, whose intended groom, broke up with her shortly before their wedding.
Gogol is reluctant to meet with Moushumi because she is Bengali, but does so anyway, to please his mother. Moushumi and Gogol are attracted to one another and are married. However, by the end of their first year of marriage, Moushumi becomes restless, she begins to regret it. He feels l
Elmer J. McCurdy was an American bank and train robber, killed in a shoot-out with police after robbing a Katy Train in Oklahoma in October 1911. Dubbed "The Bandit Who Wouldn't Give Up", his mummified body was first put on display at an Oklahoma funeral home and became a fixture on the traveling carnival and sideshow circuit during the 1920s through the 1960s. After changing ownership several times, McCurdy's remains wound up at The Pike amusement zone in Long Beach, California where they were discovered by a film crew and positively identified in December 1976. In April 1977, Elmer McCurdy's body was buried at the Summit View Cemetery in Oklahoma. McCurdy was born in Washington, Maine, on January 1, 1880, he was the son of 17-year-old Sadie McCurdy, unmarried at the time of his birth. The identity of McCurdy's father is unknown. In order to save Sadie the embarrassment and shame of raising an illegitimate child, her brother George and his wife Helen adopted Elmer. After George died of tuberculosis in 1890, Sadie and Helen moved with Elmer to Maine.
Sadie told her son that she, not Helen, was his mother and that she was unsure of who his biological father was. The news disturbed McCurdy who grew resentful and became "unruly and rebellious"; as a teenager, he began drinking a habit he would continue throughout his life. McCurdy returned to Maine to live with his grandfather and became an apprentice plumber, he was a competent worker and lived comfortably until the economic downturn in 1898. McCurdy lost his job and, in August 1900, his mother died of a ruptured ulcer, his grandfather died of Bright's disease the following month. Shortly after his grandfather's death, McCurdy left Maine and began drifting around the eastern United States where he worked as a lead miner and plumber, he was unable to hold a job for an extended period due to his alcoholism. He made his way to Kansas where he worked as a plumber in Cherryvale. McCurdy moved to Iola where, in 1905, he was arrested for public intoxication, he relocated to Webb City, Missouri. In 1907, McCurdy joined the United States Army.
Assigned to Fort Leavenworth, McCurdy was a machine gun operator and was trained to use nitroglycerin for demolition purposes. He was honorably discharged from the Quartermaster Corps on November 7, 1910. McCurdy made his way to St. Joseph, Kansas where he met with an Army friend. On November 19, McCurdy and his friend were arrested for possessing burglary paraphernalia; the St. Joseph Gazette reported that during their arraignment, McCurdy and his friend told the judge the tools were not intended for burglary purposes but were tools they needed to work on a foot operated machine gun they were inventing. In January 1911, a jury found McCurdy not guilty. After his release from county jail, McCurdy's short lived career as a bank and train robber began, his robberies were bungled affairs due to McCurdy's ineptitude. McCurdy decided to incorporate his training with nitroglycerin into his robberies; this caused problems as he was overzealous and failed to determine the proper amount to use. By March 1911, McCurdy had again relocated to Oklahoma.
He and three other men decided to rob the Iron Mountain-Missouri Pacific train after McCurdy heard that one of the cars contained a safe with $4,000. They stopped the train and located the safe. McCurdy put nitroglycerin on the safe's door to open it but used too much; the safe was destroyed in the blast. McCurdy and his partners managed to net $450 in silver coins, most of which were melted and fused to the safe's frame. In September 1911, McCurdy and two other men robbed The Citizens Bank in Kansas. After spending two hours breaking through the bank wall with a hammer, McCurdy placed a nitroglycerin charge around the door of the bank's outer vault; the blast blew the vault door through the bank destroying the interior, but did not damage the safe inside the vault. McCurdy tried to blow the safe door open with nitroglycerin but the charge failed to ignite. After the lookout man got scared and ran off, McCurdy and his accomplices stole about $150 in coins that were in a tray outside the safe and fled.
That night, the men hopped a train which took them to the Kansas border. They split up and McCurdy made his way to the ranch of a friend, Charlie Revard, near Bartlesville, Oklahoma, he drank heavily. McCurdy's final robbery took place on October 1911 near Okesa, Oklahoma. McCurdy and two accomplices planned to rob a Katy Train after hearing that it contained $400,000 in cash, intended as royalty payment to the Osage Nation. However, McCurdy and the men mistakenly stopped a passenger train instead; the men were able to steal only $46 from the mail clerk, two demijohns of whiskey, an automatic revolver, a coat and the train conductor's watch. A newspaper account of the robbery called it "one of the smallest in the history of train robbery." McCurdy was disappointed by the haul and returned to Revard's ranch on October 6 where he began drinking the demijohns of whiskey he stole. By this time, he was ill with tuberculosis, a mild case of pneumonia and trichinosis, he stayed up drinking with some of the ranch hands before going to sleep in the hay loft the following morning.
Unbeknownst to McCurdy, he had been implicated in the robbery and a $2,000 reward for his ca