The Namesake Characters
by Jhumpa Lahiri

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List of Characters

Ashima Bhaduri Ganguli—Gogol's mother.

Ashoke Ganguli—Gogol's father.

Gogol (Nikhil) Ganguli—protagonist.

Sonia Gangoli—Gogol's younger sister.

Ben—Sonia's fiancé.

Patty—nurse who helps Ashima with first birth.

Gosh—man who dies in the train.

Maya Nandi and Dilip Nandi—among the first Bengali friends that Ashima and
Ashoke make in the United States.

Alan Montgomery and Judy Montgomery—Ashoke and Ashima live in the basement of the
Montgomery's house and represent typical 1960s hippies.

Mrs. Lapidus—principal at Gogol's school who insists on calling him Gogol.

Maxine Ratliff—Gogol has a long-term relationship with Maxine before marrying Moushumi.

Lydia Ratliff and Gerald Ratliff—Maxine's parents.

Donald and Astrid—friends of Moushumi.

Moushumi Mazoomdar—Bengalese woman who marries Gogol.

Rina Mazoomdar—Moushumi's mother.

Shubir Mazoomdar—Moushumi's father.

Graham—Moushumi's fiancé who left her right before their wedding.

Dimitri Desjardins—man with whom Moushumi has an affair after she is
married to Gogol.

Hank and Edith—Maxine's grandparents who live on a New Hampshire lake.

Bridget—married woman with whom Gogol has a brief affair before he marries Moushumi.

Character Analysis

Gogol, the protagonist of The Namesake, is a rather stiff character. The only time he appears pliable is when he is in a relationship with a woman, and he leans her way. Most of the time, he is not a very likeable character. He shuns his family mostly because of their cultural ties to India. Gogol wants to fit in with the culture around him and fears that if he embraces Indian culture, Americans will reject him. In his mind, in order to be considered fully American, he has to cut his ties with his family.

However, when it comes to his relationships with women, he loses his stiffness and falls all over them, coming when they call him, doing what they want to do. For example, when Maxine goes after Gogol, she takes over his life. He becomes almost as much a son to Maxine's parents as he becomes Maxine's lover. She asks him to move into her parents' house, and he does so immediately. He drops many of his own daily rituals and practices and adapts to Maxine's way of life.

Gogol has a similar relationship with Moushumi. He is passive with her, questioning himself about how he feels but never openly discussing his emotions with her. Instead, he focuses on how Moushumi feels. Does she really love him? Is he making her happy? Although he does not like it, Moushumi insists that he hang out with Moushumi's friends, who constantly compare him to Moushimi's former fiancé, Graham. Gogol often feels out of place around Moushumi, but he does not do anything about it. He just tries to do more to please her.

Gogol does demonstrate some strengths, however. When his father dies, a moment...

(The entire section is 718 words.)