I think that the effect of projecting into the future is to help bring out complexity in her characters. Lahiri understands that the traditional notion of how immigrants define themselves involves a "past vs. present" dynamic. The idea is that those who are "hyphenated" Americans have to make a fundamental choice between how they envision themselves in terms of their present and their past. Lahiri projects into the future and starts to construct her characters' identity in a future reference, as well as in a present and past. In doing this, the characters end up reconfiguring their conception of time and break out of the traditional binary opposition that her characters endure. Ashima ends up splitting her time between India and America, reflecting an embrace of the past and present in the sense of the future. Sonia marries an American, reflecting again a conception of the past and the present into the future. Gogol, always bound by the present throughout the novel, ends up embracing his past with opening a book by the Russian author, attempting to understand more of his father and of himself. This is an awareness that he invariably takes with him in the future to better understand himself in another reconfiguration of time. Lahiri's projection in the future helps to bridge this same projection that her characters undertake at the end of the novel. The effect is to move style into thematic relevance and character development.