The Namesake Questions and Answers
by Jhumpa Lahiri

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

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Maxine and Moushumi are very different characters and represent two different times in Gogol's life. Ultimately, neither relationship works out because Gogol does not truly know himself. 

Gogol dates Maxine while they are in college. At this point in his life, he is distancing himself from his parents and his Indian/Bengali heritage. He changes his name from Gogol to Nikhil, as he attempts to claim an identity separate from his parents' expectations. The relationship with Maxine is another example of this rebellion but also serves as an important learning experience for Gogol. While dating Maxine, the two spend time with Maxine's parents, who are more liberal and laidback than Gogol's traditional Bengali parents. Gogol contrasts their relationship with that of his parents, seeing Maxine's parents as openly affectionate while his parents are much more reserved. He learns that he wants a relationship like that of Maxine's parents. For a while, Maxine and Gogol are happy, but when Gogol's...

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