The Namesake | Study Guide

Jhumpa Lahiri

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The Namesake | Chapter 11 | Summary



Moushumi is in Palm Beach at a conference, and Gogol is at home in their apartment, bundled up in extra clothing because the apartment building's boiler is broken. Moushumi claimed she told Gogol about the conference months ago, but he doesn't remember and wasn't expecting her to be away. When he sees her bathing suit sitting on top of the pile of clothing on her side of the bed, he begins to wonder about her trip. Gogol gets up and tries to work, but the apartment is too cold, so he goes to the office, walking the whole way instead of taking the subway.

As Gogol works he looks at a photo of Moushumi he has tacked on the wall in his office. It is a passport photo taken before he and Moushumi were reintroduced. Gogol thinks about the life she had before him and has to remind himself he is the one she finally married. He reflects on a recent family gathering and how distant Moushumi has become, without actually complaining to Gogol about their relationship. Gogol and Moushumi had hosted Thanksgiving the week before for the first time as a couple. The dinner was enjoyable, but Gogol remembers being jealous of his sister Sonia and her boyfriend Ben for their obviously strong romantic connection. Gogol found himself wondering whether Moushumi is happy she married him. The thought feels terrible to Gogol. Gogol finishes his work and leaves the office.

As he wanders the city trying to think of what to get Moushumi for Christmas, he feels lost. This year Moushumi hasn't given him any hints, which she usually does, as to what she would really like to have. Gogol ends up buying a book about Italy, thinking that a trip there with Moushumi would take both of them out of familiar surroundings and, perhaps, rekindle their romance. When Gogol returns to the apartment, the doorman tells him Moushumi is home. Gogol imagines her relaxing in the apartment, and he hides her gift as he enters the elevator.


The shift to Gogol's perspective highlights the loneliness Gogol has been experiencing in his marriage to Moushumi. The lack of heat in the apartment can also represent the lack of heat in the relationship. Each detail illuminates Gogol's emotional state, as the news that Moushumi is cheating on him looms in the future. Gogol's sick feeling when he sees the bathing suit signifies that he may subconsciously suspect what is coming when Moushumi returns home.

The jealousy Gogol feels in observing Sonia's relationship with Ben suggests that sadness and isolation have overtaken his marriage. Gogol and Moushumi create a lovely, enjoyable dinner for their family, but it is a show, not representative of their relationship. Gogol realizes he is worried about Moushumi being unhappy in the marriage.

Gogol's reliance on his work to help him get through difficult emotions is a recurrent character trait. Gogol has the ability to immerse himself in his work and his love of architecture. When he was in India, his love of the Taj Mahal rescued what was otherwise a terrible trip, and his wanderings in Paris also helped him get through a nonhoneymoon.

Moushumi's failure to give Gogol any clues about what she wants for Christmas suggests that she may not plan on spending Christmas with him. Gogol doesn't look forward to the holiday either, and he feels as if he will be playacting until it is over. Being with his family as Moushumi's husband doesn't allow him to enjoy his time there because he feels his marriage is not successful in very fundamental ways.

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