The Namesake | Study Guide

Jhumpa Lahiri

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The Namesake | Characters

Character Description
Gogol Gogol Ganguli, the son of Bengali immigrants, becomes an architect and discovers himself and the legacy of his father through failed relationships. Read More
Ashoke Ashoke Ganguli, a fastidious and literary man who embraces Marxism and atheism, is a Bengali immigrant to the United States. He is an electrical engineering professor who names his son after his favorite author, Nikolai Gogol. Read More
Ashima Ashima Ganguli, Gogol's mother, is a Bengali woman who marries the man her parents arrange for her to marry. She comes with him to the United States, despite extreme misgivings, to build a new life and start a family. Read More
Moushumi Moushumi Mazoomdar is the daughter of Ganguli family friends. As an adult, she is a doctoral student in French literature at New York University (NYU). Read More
Sonia Sonali "Sonia" Ganguli is the youngest child in her family. She is a force that keeps the family stable, especially when her father dies. Read More
Alice Alice, a young administrative assistant at NYU, dies unexpectedly from an aneurysm in the office one morning.
Amit A distant cousin of Gogol, Amit provides information about the experiences of Indian Americans during a panel discussion at Yale.
Ashima's father Ashima's father is an illustrator who lives in Calcutta. He dies just before his daughter's family is scheduled to visit from the United States.
Ashima's grandmother Ashima's grandmother is a widow who is charged with choosing Gogol's name, but her letter never arrives, and she has a stroke shortly after Gogol is born.
Dr. Ashley Dr. Ashley is the handsome white obstetrician who delivers Gogol.
Astrid A classmate of Moushumi's from Brown, Astrid teaches film theory at the New School. She is married to Donald.
Ben Ben is Sonia's boyfriend, fiancé, and then husband. He is a newspaper editor of Chinese and Jewish heritage.
Bengali party guest At Sonia's rice ceremony to celebrate her first taste of solid food, this guest comments on the American nature of Sonia's choices regarding her future.
Brandon Brandon is Gogol's suitemate during his freshman year at Yale.
Bridget Bridget, an architecture student, has an affair with Gogol after his breakup with Maxine.
Colin Colin, a friend of Gogol's in high school, takes Gogol to a college party where he has his first kiss.
Mr. Davenport Mr. Davenport is the mortician in charge of Gogol's father's body identification.
Dimitri Dimitri Desjardins, a German literature professor, is an old boyfriend of Moushumi. Their later affair ends Moushumi's marriage to Gogol.
Donald Donald, a painter, is a friend of Graham and married to Astrid.
Evan Evan is a colleague of Gogol's at an architectural firm in New York; he is the person who introduces Gogol to Maxine.
Ghosh Ghosh is a businessman whom Ashoke meets on the train. He advises Ashoke to travel if he can, just before the train crashes. The crash kills Ghosh, whose body lies across Ashoke.
Graham Moushumi meets Graham in Paris and lives with him in New York. They become engaged but break up just before their wedding. Graham is only mentioned in the novel.
Dr. Gupta Dr. Gupta is a postdoctoral fellow in mathematics at MIT. He befriends Ashoke and comes to Gogol's rice ceremony, which is a celebration marking a baby's first taste of solid food.
Jason Jason is a high school friend of Gogol's.
Jonathan Jonathan is Gogol's suitemate during his freshman year at Yale.
Mrs. Jones Mrs. Jones is the secretary in the engineering department where Ashoke teaches.
Kim Kim is a girl Gogol meets at a college party and with whom he has his first kiss.
Mrs. Lapidus Mrs. Candace Lapidus is the principal at Gogol's kindergarten, and she decides she will call Gogol by the name he wants, rather than Nikhil, his formal name, against the wishes of Gogol's parents.
Mr. Lawson Mr. Lawson is Gogol's high school English teacher. He embarrasses Gogol by going over Nikolai Gogol's sad life with students and having the class read "The Overcoat."
Marc Marc is a high school friend of Gogol's.
Mrs. McNab Mrs. McNab is the secretary at Gogol's kindergarten.
Alan Montgomery Alan Montgomery, a liberal sociology professor at Harvard, is the landlord of the apartment where Ashoke and Ashima first live in Cambridge.
Amber Montgomery Amber Montgomery is a daughter of Alan and Judy, the Gangulis' Cambridge landlords.
Clover Montgomery Clover Montgomery is a daughter of Alan and Judy, the Gangulis' Cambridge landlords.
Judy Montgomery Judy Montgomery is the earthy landlady of the apartment where Ashoke and Ashima first live in Cambridge. She is a committed vegetarian who works for a women's health collective in Somerville.
Dilip Nandi Dilip Nandi is one of the Gangulis' friends in Cambridge. He is like an uncle to Gogol.
Maya Nandi Maya Nandi is one of the Gangulis' friends in Cambridge. She is like an aunt to Gogol, helping at his rice ceremony and taking care of him when his sister is born. A rice ceremony is a celebration of a baby's first taste of solid food.
Patty Patty is a friendly, red-haired nurse who helps Ashima at the hospital when Gogol is born.
Rana Rana is Ashima's brother, the bearer of the bad news that her father has passed away.
Edith Ratliff Edith Ratliff is Maxine's grandmother. She vacations with the Ratliffs in New Hampshire.
Gerald Ratliff Gerald Ratliff, a handsome, literary, and wealthy man, is Maxine's father.
Hank Ratliff Hank Ratliff, a retired professor, is Maxine's grandfather. He vacations with the Ratliffs in New Hampshire.
Lydia Ratliff Lydia Ratliff, a good-looking, down-to-earth woman, is Maxine's mother.
Maxine Ratliff Maxine Ratliff is Gogol's second serious girlfriend, with whom he lives in New York for a time, along with her parents. She loves Gogol, but she is eventually frustrated that he shuts her out of his life following the death of his father.
Ruth Ruth is Gogol's first serious girlfriend at Yale, but she leaves him to study at Oxford and thus grows apart from him.
Mr. Wilcox Mr. Wilcox, the compiler of birth certificates, is the man who tells the Gangulis they should choose a name right away for Gogol because changing it later is too difficult.
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