In The Namesake trains have a huge relevance in the journey of certain characters. The first incident where trains become apparent in the novel is when Ashoke has a near death experience in a train accident. This train ride begins a new aspiration in Ashoke’s life. The man he speaks to before the accident motivates Ashoke to move to America and start a new life.
Gogol meets his first American girlfriend Ruth, on a train. It is on the train where Gogol has a connection with Ruth leading to their relationship. Meeting her on a train again symbolizes a new beginning and change. One change that resulted from meeting Ruth was his new routine in university. His routine alternated to accommodate Ruth, he studied with her at the library on Friday nights and often met up with her after his classes.
While Gogol traveled by train back home to see his family on Thanksgiving his trained was delayed because a man committed suicide by jumping in front of it. Hearing of his son’s experience Ashoke feels compelled to tell Gogol the story of his near death experience. Ashoke tells Gogols how his name derived from this crash. This is a new insight for Gogol because he finally knows where his name came from and what the relevance of his name is. This allows Gogol to begin to accept his pet name and even appreciate it.
After Ashoke dies Gogol rides a train back to New York. As he travels he remembers the fond memories of him and his father. This symbolizes the new life Gogol and his family will have to adapt to without having a father or husband. Soon after Gogol, consumed with grief, ends his relationship with Maxine. This again represents a new beginning and change to Gogol’s life.
The trains in the novel clearly have an impact on the story. Every time there is a train there is a new journey fallowed by new insight in characters and depth into the story. I think there is much more to come in the last four chapters relating to trains and their symbolism.