I wanted to bring to light an idea that I had while reading through the first couple chapters in the Namesake. My idea is simply this: Someone’s relationship with an object of significance will greatly affect the significance of that object in their lives.
In Jumpha Lahiri’s The Namesake, Ashoke is ‘saved’ because rescue workers during a train crash noticed pages of The Overcoat by Nikolai Gogol near his body. This event in his life shapes the events of the book as Ashoke believes it was Gogol who had saved his life. This is the reason in which he names his son ‘Gogol’. In this case, the name ‘Gogol’ was so important in Ashoke’s life that he named his son after him, against Bengali culture.
My theory behind why this significant attachment occurs lies within the traditional value of objects or regular everyday things. Originally, if someone held up a man and asked him to give him all of his valuables, he would quickly do so without though as the value of life is greater than that of the objects he owns. However, once an object has saved a life, it becomes almost as valuable as a human life. It, in essence, granted a human life to live on. As such, the human would grow a strong emotional bond with that object, and it would be a source of inspiration in his/her life.
Near death experiences are something frequently discussed on the internet. To give a vague example, someone may say “[Blank] saved my life!”. Recently, I read a post about how a Dutch man’s Iphone saved his life from a bullet. (http://www.mactrast.com/2012/02/iphone-stops-a-speeding-bullet-saves-owners-life/)
“The victim was in his van when several unknown individuals approached and opened fire. Five bullets were fired, one of which hit the man’s chest. Fortunately, the man’s iPhone was in his shirt pocket. The bullet shattered the iPhone’s glass, but prevented the wound from causing any major injury to the man.”
Can you imagine that? If this happened to me, I wouldn’t care that the Iphone broke, instead I would simply see the Iphone in a whole new way. It would have a special significance to me, and I would likely grow more attached to it than any other phone or material object. It is no surprise, then, that the dutch man decides to stick his Iphone in a special place in his home to remind him of the fragility of life.
The action of putting the Iphone in a special place as well as Ashoke’s naming of his son after his ‘hero’ shows the significance of something in ones life relative with their relationship with that thing. Why didn’t the man put his Iphone in a special place before he almost got killed? Would Gogol have been named Gogol if the train crash had never occurred? The answer is no. An object requires emotional significance before it can become important. Once it acquire’s the value of human life, it will shape it’s owner’s life just as other humans have the ability to influence other people’s everyday lives.
“It is only in the world of objects that we have time and space and selves.” – T.S. Eliot