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.
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.
...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)
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)