In the Namesake, how can we compare Gogol's two main relationships, Maxine and Moushumi?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In The Namesake, one comparison between Gogol's relationships with Maxine and Moushimi is in how both relationships lacked emotional depth.

One reason why there is a lack of emotional depth in both relationships would have to do with Gogol himself.  In both relationships, Gogol is uncertain about his own identity.  He is unclear about who he is.  As a result, his lack of self-awareness contributes to an insufficient emotional connection in each relationship.

The relationship Gogol shares with Maxine features a superficial approach to life.  Maxine represents this superficiality, something that Lahiri notes in describing their relationship:  "They had both sought comfort in each other, and in their shared world, perhaps for the sake of novelty, or out of the fear that the world is slowly dying."  

There is not much in the way of self-examination or seeking to establish emotional connection in Gogol's relationship with Maxine.  Consequently, Gogol surrenders himself entirely to Maxine's world, doing so in large part because of "comfort" and social expectation.  Maxine looks good, and between the two of them, they become creatures of comfort.  There is not much in the way of forging profound spiritual or emotional connection.  

This same supeficial element is presented in a different way when Gogol is with Moushimi.  A similar desire for comfort plagues this relationship.  She seeks to recover from the pain of abandonment, and he is emotionally strained because of his father's death.  Neither one of them really embrace a deep permanence of relationship between them.  Consequently, it becomes clear that Gogol puts any potential doubts or questions off to the side, thinking "everything is fine."  Moushimi is equally superficial as is shown by the idea that "she has never wished she were anyone other than herself."  She, too, lacks self-examination and is incapable of seeing herself as Gogol's wife or soulmate.  It is for this reason of superficiality that she cannot remain in their marriage.  

In both relationships, there is a lack of emotional depth and pure emotional connection. 

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