The Namesake

Summary

Chapter 8

Summary Chapter 8

Summary

A year goes by. Gogol still lives uptown, in New York City, and works for a large architecture firm. He studies for his licensure exam and rides the train most weekends to see his mother and sister near Boston. He has ended things with Maxine, having grown mentally apart from her in the months following Ashoke’s death. Maxine wanted, for example, to travel with the family to place Ashoke’s ashes near the Ganges, and Gogol asked her not to, angering her. Gogol begins an affair with a married architect, who lives in Brooklyn, and although he desires her physically, he feels no emotional connection to her, and eventually grows despondent at enabling her to cheat on her husband. Ashima starts bothering Gogol more and more about a girlfriend, and after Gogol evades the question (and ends the furtive relationship with the married woman), he agrees to go on a date with a family friend—one set up by his mother. The friend is Moushumi, the girl with the English accent who used to read at Ganguli family parties, years ago. Nikhil has not seen her since.

They have a drink at a bar downtown. Moushumi seems to remember a great deal about Gogol, whom she initially calls Gogol, and about the Ganguli family, although the two were hardly close, and only saw each other at occasional Bengali gatherings. They begin to talk: Moushumi is a PhD student in French literature at NYU, and when she lived in Paris, several years ago, she was engaged to an American banker named Graham. The couple split acrimoniously, and Moushumi fears that Nikhil has probably heard this story of “nuptial disaster” from his mother.. The two settle up at the bar, splitting the tab, and walk out for dinner. They go to a French bistro nearby, and Gogol worries that Moushumi might find the decor tacky or touristy. She calls it “authentic,” however, and they eat. Gogol treats, and they part with Moushumi telling Gogol to call her again some time.

They go out for lunch a week later, at an Italian restaurant near Gogol’s work. They have an enjoyable time reminiscing, and Gogol recalls more and more of their shared experiences as kids in the Boston metro area. After lunch, it begins to rain and becomes cold, and Gogol notices that Moushumi has prepared herself with an umbrella. He has nothing to guard himself against the weather, and so they go to a clothes shop nearby, where Moushumi picks out a hat for Gogol and says she will buy it for him. Gogol is grateful, and as she checks out, he notices her noticing another hat on a rack, an expensive one. They leave the store, and Gogol returns after work and buys the expensive hat for Moushumi, vowing to himself to give it to her on her birthday—which he does not know yet.

He comes over to Moushumi’s place for a third date; she begins cooking dinner and they make love, botching the dinner in the process. Their romance follows quickly; after several months, they are spending a great deal of time together. They marvel that, despite knowing each other as children and promising themselves not to get involved with Bengalis, they have found each other in New York. And, to boot, they were set up by their parents, on a blind date—in a manner not dissimilar to “arranged” relationships in Bengali culture.

The chapter ends with the narrator describing, from Moushumi’s point of view, her life before Gogol. She went to Brown, and though her parents wanted her to find a lucrative career, like medicine, she fell in love with literature. She traveled to France and began her romance with the American banker. He proposed to her, and she accepted. But they began fighting after moving from Paris back to New York, and Moushumi realized that the banker was not at all comfortable with some of the customs of her Bengali relatives. They fought more, and eventually split, prompting a period of despair for Moushumi. On meeting Gogol, Moushumi has clawed her way out of the depression, and she speaks of her life with the banker as something deep in her past.

Analysis

Gogol’s life can be tracked in different ways: one method might be to plot his relationships with women. Gogol’s time with Ruth, in college, coincided with his intellectual growth—his dawning love of the study of architecture. In New York, his relationship with Maxine was an introduction to a “bohemian,” intellectual life—and to another way of relating to one’s parents. Although Nikhil does not get to know Ruth’s family, he does become quite intimate with the Ratliffs, and it is only upon the death of his father that Gogol leaves their orbit and returns, emotionally, to the Ganguli family. Gogol’s “emotional” return to them is echoed by Sonia’s physical move, from California back to the east coast, to be with her mother full-time.