“She plays with the dirt they’ve dug up from the yard and threatens to put the dollar bill into her mouth. ‘This one,’ one of the guests remarks, ‘this one is the true American.’”

During Sonia’s childhood feeding ceremony, she exhibits behavior that contrasts with Gogol’s behavior during his own ceremony. This quote showcases how identity can be imposed on a person at an early age, and how certain traits are paired with certain identities. Sonia is inherently non-compliant—her disobedience and independence are traits one guest aligns with Americanness. Gogol, on the other hand, is an obedient child, and thus is thought to be more closely connected to his Indian background. 

“Pet names are a persistent remnant of childhood, a reminder that life is not always so serious, so formal, so complicated. They are a reminder, too, that one is not all things to all people.”

In Chapter 2, the narration contemplates the nature of names and pet names, and their relation to identity. These connections are essential to the novel, seeing as Gogol’s name drives a lot of the novel’s plot. This quote argues that individuals might have different perceptions of a person, and that the person may take a different shape in the minds of others. For Gogol, he may feel like one person to his parents and like another to his classmates. Pet names are an outward projection of these differences, as it is common for one to have different pet names for different people. 

“They talk about how they are both routinely assumed to be Greek, Egyptian, Mexican—even in this misrendering they are joined.”

During Gogol and Moushumi’s initial meeting, they connect over their identities and the ways in which people have made assumptions about them. This quote points out a number of truths. The first is that people, in this case Americans, often make assumptions about one’s identity based on outward appearance, and are often wildly incorrect. This quote also suggests that, although these “misrenderings” aren’t part of their identity, Gogol and Moushumi’s shared experiences and commonalities are. This connection between the two is largely what draws them together, as they are able to see themselves in the other.