The Namesake

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Trains Symbol Analysis

Trains Symbol Icon
Trains appear again and again in Lahiri’s novel, and twice a train accident plays a significant role in the story. The first is the devastating accident in Ashoke’s past, which he barely survives, and the second is when an unknown person commits suicide on the tracks of a train that is carrying Gogol home from Yale. The presence of trains in the novel seems to be a reminder of the constant and inevitable forward motion of life, which advances and accumulates outside of anyone’s control, as Gogol reflects at the end of the novel. It is on a train that Gogol meets Ruth, and on a train that he discovers Moushumi’s affair. Trains also represent motion, travel, and distance, and are a reminder that the novel’s main characters are divided between homes, constantly unsettled.
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Trains Symbol Timeline in The Namesake

The timeline below shows where the symbol Trains appears in The Namesake. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
...translations as a boy. One day, when Ashoke was 22, he set out on a train journey to visit his grandfather, who, now blind, had requested that Ashoke read to him.... (full context)
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...Ashoke stays up late into the night, reading and taking in the sounds of the train. Suddenly, the train derails, knocked off the track by what some later believe to have... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Although he has now left India, the memory of the train crash still haunts Ashoke at times. He feels lucky to have survived, and considers his... (full context)
Chapter 2
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
...the beautiful miracle of his son—a second miracle to match his own rescue from the train. (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...of it that she nearly misses her stop, and in her rush to exit the train she leaves all of her purchases behind. Humiliated, she is amazed when Ashoke’s call to... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...the stroller and a bag with the paintbrushes and cardigan for her father on the train to Central Square, and deliberately leaves them behind. As they sit on the plane, she... (full context)
Chapter 4
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...Ashoke waits expectantly, but Gogol is unimpressed—he does not know the story of his father’s train accident. He flips through, relieved to find no resemblance between himself and the author’s picture... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...his adult life outside his homeland, just like him. He considers telling Gogol about the train accident, but his son has grown impatient and turned up the Beatles, and as he... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...the summer they go on a trip around India, the children’s first. They take the train, and experience Agra almost as if they are tourists from the West. They are all... (full context)
Chapter 5
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...him. And so in the summer of 1986, before leaving for Yale, he rides the train on his own into Boston, wearing a tie. At the courthouse, with its grand marbled... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
Every other weekend he takes the train home to his family, morphing back into Gogol. When he is home, however, he is... (full context)
Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
On one crowded train ride home, Gogol meets a girl named Ruth, and the two of them talk the... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
For Thanksgiving of senior year, Gogol takes the train up to Boston alone. Although he and Ruth spent the first few days after her... (full context)
Chapter 7
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...stays in Massachusetts with Ashima. The two women come to see Gogol off at the train station. It feels strange for him to leave, and to return to Maxine. A sharp... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
As the train hugs the coastline, Gogol remembers a past journey to Cape Cod, and walking with his... (full context)
Chapter 8
Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
...from the evenings of their review class. It is only when Gogol is on the train home to Boston, and a train going the opposite direction passes by, that he begins... (full context)
Chapter 12
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
No one greets Gogol at the train, so he waits at the station, reflecting on his mother’s upcoming move, and the loss... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Gogol and Moushumi were then trapped together on the train, and then at the Christmas celebration at his home. Moushumi revealed the whole story, and... (full context)
Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
Gogol reflects that their life has been formed by a series of accidents—first Ashoke’s train accident, inspiring him to move to America, then the disappearance of the letter containing his... (full context)
Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...as if by chance from being lost, just as Ashoke had been saved from the train accident years ago. Gogol reads the author’s bio—in ten years he will be 43, the... (full context)