Lahiri’s Post-Racial Strangers
Alienation and Consumerism in The Namesake
With respect to the Marxian concept of “universal alienation,” we will attempt to account for the universalizing material conditions of late capitalism, considering the central characters as belonging to a global middle class of corporate workers and consumerists. Nikolai Gogol’s short story, The Overcoat, a recurrent motif in the novel, will be viewed as the novel’s precursor, providing an “allegorical key” to understanding the “economic” nature of this condition. It will be argued that the text’s affective impact could be analyzed in terms alienation from labor, from other people and a compensatory fetishistic consumerism. By reading The Namesake as a novel of capitalist alienation, we aspire to contribute to shifting the critical focal point from race to capital.
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