Jhumpa Lahiri demonstrates that shared identities within a family still have room for individuality. In this family portrait, each member experiences America in a unique way. Parents, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli, immigrate to Massachusetts from Calcutta, India. While they are both immigrants in America, Ashoke, the husband finds scholarship and educational opportunities, while Ashima, the wife, finds a life of constant adaptability. Meanwhile, their children Gogol and Sonia experience the burden as first generation Indian-Americans in similar yet different ways. Gogol struggles to make sense of a name that was not meant to be his, while also trying to assimilate in an America not made for him. On the other hand, his sister has the luxury of learning from her brother’s mistakes and excels in her career. A story of lingering choices and consequences that will leave you wondering, “what if?”
“For being a foreigner, Ashima is beginning to realize, is a sort of lifelong pregnancy- a perpetual wait, a constant burden, a continuous feeling out of sorts. It is an ongoing responsibility, a parenthesis in what had once been ordinary life, only to discover that the previous life has vanished, replaced by something more complicated and demanding” (Lahiri 49).