“He is afraid to be Nikhil, someone he doesn’t know. Who doesn’t know him.”

Shortly before Gogol legally changes his name to Nikhil, he has a moment of hesitation. Gogol, up to this moment, has lived a stable and predictable life in which he was known as Gogol. Unbeknownst to him, the changing of his name will be the first change in a series of big changes for Gogol. This is exactly what he fears. This quote serves as an example of one of the trademarks of Gogol’s nature. At heart, Gogol is afraid of change and life-altering decisions. He is not a risk-taker or an adventurous individual, despite wanting to be. Although Gogol does ultimately go through with his name change, this hesitation helps the reader understand his anxious nature. 

“And yet it had not been possible to fully reinvent himself fully, to break from that mismatched name. His marriage had been something of a misstep as well. And the way his father had slipped away from them, that had been the worst accident of all. And yet these events have formed Gogol, shaped him, determined who he is.”

Near the end of the novel, Gogol reflects on the experiences that have made up his life thus far. This quote serves as an example of a number of things. Retrospectively, it showcases how Gogol has always wanted to distance himself from his Indian background. His name change and multiple relationships with non-Indian women are examples of this desire. Despite this quest, Gogol has failed to fully reinvent himself fully as an American. This quote also conveys to the reader the growth Gogol has experienced as a character. Gogol exhibits a sort of appreciation, or at the very least acceptance, of his failure to fully separate himself from his original name and identity. The reader has watched Gogol run from his family and his heritage for much of the novel, but now he has accepted them for the ways they contribute to his identity. 

“He admires her [Moushumi], even resents her a little, for having moved to another country and made a separate life. He realizes that this is what their parents had done in America. What he, in all likelihood, will never do.”

This quote from Chapter 9 is an example of how Gogol, near the end of the novel, is a man with many regrets. He has always had lofty desires. The loftiest of these desires is his quest to separate himself from his background and create a new identity for himself. In addition to this desire, however, Gogol has also wanted to travel and explore the world in the way his father encouraged him to. Gogol’s fear, however, has kept him from accomplishing any of these desires. This quote highlights his regret for the missed opportunities in his past through the lens of his jealousy of Moushumi. Moushumi, in Gogol’s eyes, has accomplished the things he wanted to accomplish himself. She has traveled outside of America and India, and she has established herself as an American through work and relationships. Gogol struggles to come to terms with the idea that he may never achieve the same.