The Namesake | Study Guide

Jhumpa Lahiri

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Course Hero. "The Namesake Study Guide." April 5, 2019. Accessed August 11, 2020. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Namesake/.

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Course Hero, "The Namesake Study Guide," April 5, 2019, accessed August 11, 2020, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Namesake/.

The Namesake | Chapter 8 | Summary

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Summary

One year after Ashoke's death, Gogol is still living in New York City, but he and Maxine have broken up. He is planning to take the exam to become a licensed architect. Maxine had wanted to go with Gogol to Calcutta to spread Ashoke's ashes, but Gogol didn't want her there because he had begun to feel she didn't understand him. Gogol has a brief fling with a married architect, Bridget, but he feels bad about helping her cheat on her husband and stops seeing her. Gogol goes to visit his mother, whose age is showing, and his sister, who now lives with Ashima, almost every weekend. Gogol visits a photograph of his father on the wall of his mother's home as if it were a gravesite. His mother pesters him about getting a girlfriend. She asks him whether he is willing to go on a date with someone the family knows, Moushumi, the girl Gogol first met at his 14th birthday party. Gogol agrees to go.

Moushumi and Gogol go out for a drink together, and while Gogol remembers almost nothing about Moushumi, she remembers nearly everything about him, including his pet name. Moushumi is now a PhD student at New York University (NYU), studying French literature, and she has recently broken up with an American banker, Graham, with whom she fought just before their wedding. The breakup was painful, but Moushumi says she is past the hurt now. Gogol takes her out to dinner, and they decide to see each other again. They go out to lunch a week later, and Gogol begins to remember more from their childhood, which is oddly enjoyable to him. When they leave the restaurant, Moushumi insists on buying Gogol a hat to protect him from the rain. Gogol secretly buys her an expensive hat she desires, planning to give it to her on her birthday. Gogol is already thinking of a future with Moushumi. On their third date at Moushumi's apartment, they are so enamored of each other that they end up in bed and forget dinner, which burns. They are both surprised at their union, which was arranged by their parents. The desire of each to separate from Bengali culture is contradicted by this pairing.

Moushumi's life has not gone the way her parents expected. They wanted her to be a doctor, but at Brown University, Moushumi fell in love with French literature classes instead. When she went to France to immerse herself in the language and study the country's literature, she fell in love with Graham, and they decided to get married. However, as soon as Graham met her family both in the United States and in Calcutta and the couple came back to the United States to live, he became distant and complained about her cultural traditions. After a violent argument, Graham left Moushumi, which threw her into a deep suicidal depression. Her parents had set up dates for her to try to lift her spirits, and with Gogol, she feels that she has finally put the breakup aside and moved on.

Analysis

The clues in the previous chapter regarding the relationship between Gogol and Maxine come to fruition in this chapter, as Gogol and Maxine have broken up. Gogol didn't want to include her in the funeral rites for his father in India, and Maxine showed herself to be a character who would demand that Gogol shed his ties to his family when they didn't suit her. This trait angers Gogol, and the cultural line of division between them becomes the thing that breaks them apart.

Afterward, Gogol swings in the opposite direction regarding his cultural traditions, and he agrees to go on a blind date his mother has set up with the daughter of a family friend. The arranged date mimics an arranged marriage, with the parents hoping their children will fall in love and get married. Gogol and Moushumi do fall in love with each other, but it is important to note that both are rebounding from recent difficult relationships.

There is also another troubled relationship in this chapter. Gogol has a fling with a married architect, but he cuts the relationship short because he can't abide helping this woman cheat on her husband.

Gogol and Moushumi have both carved independent career paths, and both have strayed purposely from their Bengali roots, wanting to create new lives for themselves. But when they fall for each other, they each feel relief to be around someone who knows the culture well and doesn't fight it. Maxine and Graham each fought against their partners' cultural family ties. Gogol and Moushumi rebound toward each other, now doing what their parents want them to do, which is the opposite of what their former partners would have wanted. At this point, the relationship seems healing, but Moushumi and Gogol know nothing about each other's habits or friends, and readers may wonder if this seeming return to their roots is going to be a realistic outcome for characters who have endured serious disappointments already.

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