Family Relationships in Jhumpa Lahiri’s the Namesake and Kiran Desai’s the Inheritance of Loss
The second half of the last century has seen movement of populations from one country to another. This movement has occurred because of a variety of factors, ranging from socio-economic to political activism. Migrancy has given rise to mutations that have both erased and re-inscribed patterns of being and belonging. Self and identity have become problematic and the migrant’s double vision often becomes the product of specific and irreversible history. I believe such factors influence family relationships to a great extent since the members of a family do not always have the same set of histories. Moreover family relations, both immediate and extended, are always in a state of flux because of travel from the home country to the host country. This thesis takes up two postcolonial novels, namely, The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri and The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai and investigates how family relationships are affected in the context of migrancy. In my analysis, I explore the different circumstances in the families of the characters that motivate them to migrate and the various factors that take place, both in the home and host countries, in the lives of the characters. Lahiri and Desai attempt to encapsulate the characters’ past prior to the period of westernisation as well as the characters trying to constantly position themselves in the completely unfamiliar space of the host country. Their constant struggle to seek an identity determines the dynamics of their family relations. I argue in my thesis that both Lahiri and Desai affirm the importance of kinship and hint towards further positive possibilities within the space of family relationships of the characters.
Advisor: Prentice, Chris
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: English
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Family; Migration; Diaspora; Relationship; Culture; Space; Naming
Research Type: Thesis