The Namesake

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Ashoke Ganguli (Mithu) Character Analysis

a caring father to Gogol and Sonia, and husband to Ashima. Ashoke grew up in Calcutta. An avid bookworm, he especially loves Russian novels. His life is changed forever when, during a train journey to visit his grandparents, a major accident strikes – he barely survives the train wreck, and is fished from the wreckage only after rescue crews see the pages of the book that he had been reading – by Nikolai Gogol – blowing in the wind. After a long and difficult recovery, he vows to travel abroad. He goes on to become a PhD student at M.I.T., and later a professor of engineering. His pet name, by which he is known at home in India, is Mithu.

Ashoke Ganguli (Mithu) Quotes in The Namesake

The The Namesake quotes below are all either spoken by Ashoke Ganguli (Mithu) or refer to Ashoke Ganguli (Mithu). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Houghton Mifflin edition of The Namesake published in 2003.
Chapter 1 Quotes

When she calls out to Ashoke, she doesn’t say his name. Ashima never thinks of her husband’s name when she thinks of her husband, even though she knows perfectly well what it is. She has adopted his surname but refuses, for propriety’s sake, to utter his first. It’s not the type of thing Bengali wives do. Like a kiss or caress in a Hindi movie, a husband’s name is something intimate and therefore unspoken, cleverly patched over. And so … she utters the interrogative that has come to replace it, which translates roughly as “Are you listening to me?”

Related Characters: Ashima Ganguli (Monu) (speaker), Ashoke Ganguli (Mithu)
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Ashima and Ashoke are still awaiting the arrival of their firstborn son, and the reader is given a glimpse into their relationship when Ashima calls to her husband without using his name. This is a product of tradition, since the name is considered an intimate aspect of a romantic relationship—the novel's first hint of the importance of naming in Indian culture. Ashima is devoted to tradition, and to "propriety," wary of the customs of the country that she has entered into, where first names are used indiscriminately. There is a gentle, humble quality to the phrase she uses in place of Ashoke's name, but it is still a strikingly formal phrase, from an American standpoint.

Ashima and Ashoke had an arranged marriage, and at this point they are still growing comfortable with one another, so much of what holds them together is a shared culture and a devotion to tradition, rather than a specific affection—although that love will come, and is already growing. Ashima, especially, has a reverence for this formal, respectful relationship, which might be considered unromantic from a modern American perspective. Later in the novel, she will be scandalized by the open affection that her children show for their own romantic partners. 

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Ashima had never heard of Boston, or of fiber optics. She was asked whether she was willing to fly on a plane and then if she was capable of living in a city characterized by severe, snowy winters, alone. “Won’t he be there?” she’d asked, pointing to the man whose shoes she’d briefly occupied, but who had yet to say a word to her.

Related Characters: Ashima Ganguli (Monu) (speaker), Ashoke Ganguli (Mithu)
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

The narrative perspective flashes back to the first time that Ashima met Ashoke, when he visited her house as a potential suitor for a marriage arranged by their parents. Asked to undertake a massive journey across the world, Ashima's courageous response shows a deep trust, and also a naivete regarding relationships and the world at large. The two have never met before, never spoken, but will soon embark on a lifetime together, in sometimes difficult, lonely circumstances. From her question, which does not even address Ashoke, it is clear that Ashima does not even know her future husband's name—and yet she is willing to stake her future on their pending marriage. This vision of love, in which individual choice is not an important factor, will seem impossible to understand to the pair's future children, who grow up in America with Western ideas of love and romance. 

A moment before this meeting, Ashima put her feet in Ashoke's shoes, seemingly entranced by their foreignness, their connection to this man who might become her husband. This moment of girlish excitement is a glimpse of the sentimental, young Ashima who will become a stern matriarch later in the novel. 

Chapter 2 Quotes

“Lucky boy,” Ashoke remarks, turning the beautifully sewn pages. “Only a few hours old and already the owner of books.” What a difference, he thinks, from the childhood he has known. Ashima thinks the same, though for different reasons. For as grateful as she feels for the company… these acquaintances are only substitutes for the people who really ought to be surrounding them. Without a single grandparent or parent or uncle or aunt at her side, the baby’s birth, like most everything else in America, feels somehow haphazard, only half true. As she strokes and suckles and studies her son, she can’t help but pity him. She has never known of a person entering the world so alone, so deprived.

Related Characters: Ashoke Ganguli (Mithu) (speaker), Ashima Ganguli (Monu), Gogol/Nikhil Ganguli
Related Symbols: Books
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, we see the major divide between Ashoke and Ashima in their attitude toward America, their new home as a young family. Family friends of the Gangulis have just presented the youngest member of this family, their firstborn son—who is still without a name—with a beautifully illustrated children's book. Ashoke, who has always loved literature, sees this as proof that his new son has been born into a land of prosperity and happiness, where anything can happen. He marvels at how different his son's first moments are from his own past, growing up without access to such luxuries.

While Ashoke celebrates this difference, Ashima is struck by a deep sadness to see everything that her son lacks in this new country. For Ashima, family is the most important thing in life, and to be born alone, without one's extended family, is a great tragedy. Without her family, Ashima is left floundering in the world, unable to function outside of the traditional family structures she knows so well. She has a sense of foreboding and worry for her son, who will grow up without any access to these structures. 

This is the house Ashoke had brought Ashima to eighteen months ago, late one February night after her arrival at Logan Airport. In the dark, through the windows of the taxi, wide awake from jet lag, she could barely make out a thing, apart from heaps of broken snow glowing like shattered, bluish white bricks on the ground. It wasn’t until morning, stepping briefly outside wearing a pair of Ashoke’s socks under her thin-soled slippers, the frigid New England chill piercing her inner ears and jaw, that she’d had her first real glimpse of America: Leafless trees with ice-covered branches. Dog urine and excrement embedded in the snow banks. Not a soul on the street.

Related Characters: Ashoke Ganguli (Mithu), Ashima Ganguli (Monu)
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote offers a flashback to Ashima's first impression of her new home with Ashoke in America. It is clear that this a completely alien landscape for the bewildered Ashima, who is fresh off the plane from India. While there is a general stereotype that for those who immigrate here, America is seen as a golden land of opportunity—and Ashoke takes this view—for Ashima, the frozen New England suburb is a dismal, ugly, and unwelcoming place, a violent shock to her system echoed by the frigid chill that pierces her body when she ventures outside. 

Her thin-soled slippers, traditional Indian footwear, show that she is completely unready for this new climate. The fact that she wraps her feet in her new husband's socks is also an echo of the moment before their first encounter, when she tried on his shoes in secret—and a hint at the growing intimacy between the couple. This is a small comfort, though, when Ashima is faced with what from her perspective are the desolate, empty, excrement-filled streets of Cambridge, so different from the warm, bustling streets she knows in India.

Chapter 4 Quotes

Ashima, now Monu, weeps with relief, and Ashoke, now Mithu, kisses his brothers on both cheeks, holds their heads in his hands. Gogol and Sonia know these people, but they do not feel close to them as their parents do. Within minutes, before their eyes Ashoke and Ashima slip into bolder, less complicated versions of themselves, their voices louder, their smiles wider, revealing a confidence that Gogol and Sonia never see on Pemberton Road. “I’m scared, Goggles,” Sonia whispers to her brother in English, seeking his hand and refusing to let go.

Related Characters: Sonali (Sonia) Ganguli (speaker), Ashoke Ganguli (Mithu), Ashima Ganguli (Monu), Gogol/Nikhil Ganguli
Page Number: 81-82
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote describes the scene as the Ganguli family arrives in India for an extended visit. Here, the divide between the two immigrant generations within the family is clearly illustrated. For Ashima and Ashoke, who grew up in India, this is an intensely emotional, joyous homecoming that signals a return to the identity with which they feel most comfortable. The parents are transformed, shedding the worry and insecurity that comes with life as an immigrant in the United States, and embracing their extended family. This transformation is signaled in part by the recovery of their old pet names, Monu and Mithu, traditional Indian pet names that signal their close relationship to these family members, from whom they have been separated for so long, divorced from their former identities.

Gogol and Sonia, on the other hand, who were born in America, are frightened by what to them is a strange and foreign land, populated with strange people whose customs are not their own. They too share pet names that signal their closeness to one another—not the traditional Indian ones of their parents, but Americanized nicknames like “Goggles.” Already, within one generation, the children have become foreigners in the land of their parents.

Chapter 6 Quotes

At times… he is conscious of the fact that his immersion in Maxine’s family is a betrayal of his own. It isn’t simply the fact that his parents don’t know about Maxine… it is his knowledge that apart from their affluence, Gerald and Lydia are secure in a way his parents will never be. He cannot imagine his parents sitting at Lydia and Gerald’s table, enjoying Lydia’s cooking, appreciating Gerald’s selection of wine. He cannot imagine them contributing to one of their dinner party conversations. And yet here he is, night after night, a welcome addition to the Ratliff’s universe, doing just that.

Related Characters: Ashoke Ganguli (Mithu), Ashima Ganguli (Monu), Gogol/Nikhil Ganguli, Maxine Ratliff, Lydia Ratliff, Gerald Ratliff
Page Number: 141
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote describes Gogol’s moments of inner conflict about the new home he has found for himself in New York, in his girlfriend’s townhouse with the sophisticated and elegant Ratliff family. Maxine’s parents, Gerald and Lydia, who are at the head of this new home, are opposite in every way from Gogol’s own parents—they are embedded in the American upper class, secure in their wealth and whiteness, openly affectionate with one another, and luxurious in their taste. Feeling so at home here, Gogol is aware of the immense distance that separates this lifestyle from the one he grew up with. He is fundamentally different from his parents, has had radically different life experiences than them, and can now enter a world that will never be theirs. This power is at once intoxicating and disorienting for Gogol, who has worked hard to distance himself from his roots, rebelling against his parents’ lifestyle and isolating himself in New York with Maxine. Yet now that he is successful in his rebellion, Gogol finds himself feeling guilty about his success.

Gogol's relationship with Maxine has also been linked from the start with his struggle to form an identity. Gogol—or Nikhil, now—has transformed himself since meeting her, changing his lifestyle to match hers and reveling in the new sense of home and belonging that she is able to give him, for a time. 

The family seems to possess every piece of the landscape, not only the house itself but every tree and blade of grass. Nothing is locked, not the main house, or the cabin that he and Maxine sleep in. Anyone could walk in. He thinks of the alarm system that now is installed in his parents’ house, wonders why they cannot relax about their physical surroundings in the same way. The Ratliffs own the moon that floats over the lake, and the sun and the clouds. It is a place that has been good to them, as much a part of them as a member of the family. The idea of returning year after year to a single place appeals to Gogol deeply.

Related Characters: Ashoke Ganguli (Mithu), Ashima Ganguli (Monu), Gogol/Nikhil Ganguli, Maxine Ratliff, Lydia Ratliff, Gerald Ratliff
Page Number: 154
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Gogol describes the Ratliff’s summer home, which strikes him as a sort of paradise on earth. What attracts Gogol so intensely to this place is its sense of permanence and security, the all-pervading certainty that comes, in his mind, with an ancestral home like this one and the wealth and class of the family that inhabits it. Gogol has never felt so entirely at home, since he has always been torn between two identities—the Indian heritage of his parents and the American culture he has grown up in. The Ratliff family’s identity is monolithic, by contrast, linked to this place by an ancient family burying ground that anchors them physically to the American landscape, within which they have thrived. It is the startling sense of ownership that comes with this security, so in contrast to his parents’ own petty worrying, that gives Gogol the impression that the entire forest belongs to the Ratliffs: they are at home here. Never having had a home like this, Gogol is entranced by what he sees, and the identity that this place represents is a major part of what motivates his romantic interest in Maxine. His choice to be here is a rebellion against his parents, and everything they represent.

He returns to bed, squeezing in beside Maxine’s warm, sleeping body, and drapes his arm around her narrow waist, fits his knees behind hers. Through the window he sees that dawn is creeping into the sky, only a handful of stars still visible, the shapes of the surrounding pines and cabins growing distinct. A bird begins to call. And then he remembers that his parents can’t possibly reach him: he has not given them the number, and the Ratliffs are unlisted. That here at Maxine’s side, in this cloistered wilderness, he is free.

Related Characters: Ashoke Ganguli (Mithu), Ashima Ganguli (Monu), Gogol/Nikhil Ganguli, Maxine Ratliff
Page Number: 158
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, we see Gogol at the peak of his sense of security with Maxine—a sense that will not last long, since a fateful phone call announcing his father’s death is on its way, despite Gogol's belief that here, at last, he is unreachable. The image of Gogol pressing his body into Maxine’s for comfort is a useful illustration of the way that he uses romantic love as a means of chasing security and a stable identity. The idyllic, peaceful imagery of nature gives a sense of serene beauty, in strict contrast to the angst and insecurity that Gogol has felt for much of his life. His coming here, and creating for himself a new life and a new home with Maxine, is a rebellion against the home that he grew up in. Here, at last, there is no way that that old life can reach him—or so he thinks—and no one who can remind him of his former identity as "Gogol"; to everyone in this "cloistered wilderness" he is finally only Nikhil. 

Chapter 8 Quotes

It is the photograph more than anything that draws Gogol back to the house again and again, and one day, stepping out of the bathroom on his way to bed and glancing at his father’s smiling face, he realizes that this is the closest thing his father has to a grave.

Related Characters: Ashoke Ganguli (Mithu), Gogol/Nikhil Ganguli
Related Symbols: Graves and Graveyards
Page Number: 189
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Gogol pauses before a photograph of his father, a physical reminder of this man who is no longer a physical part of Gogol’s life. Because, in accordance with Indian tradition, Ashoke’s body was cremated, this photograph—which received an anointment of oil and a garland of flowers during Ashoke’s funeral—is in fact the closest thing to a physical grave that exists for Gogol’s father. Ashoke was always the photographer in the family, eager to preserve the memory of their family vacations, and Gogol was a reluctant subject of these photos—now, however, he appreciates the concrete link this photo gives him to his father’s memory.

Gogol has always felt a distinct lack of anchor in his life, and has been fascinated by graveyards because of the clear, solid link to the past that they provide for family members and descendants of those buried within them. Although he cannot have a grave for Ashoke, this photo makes the Ganguli home in Massachusetts a site of family history, a sort of anchor that changes Gogol's relationship to his mother and his past. He is eager to hold on to this past, now that he has seen how it can fall away from him without warning.  

Chapter 9 Quotes

He’d confessed to her that he still felt guilty at times for changing his name, more so now that his father was dead. And she’d assured him that it was understandable, that anyone in his place would have done the same. But now it’s become a joke to her. Suddenly he regrets having ever told Moushumi; he wonders whether she’ll proclaim the story of his father’s accident to the table as well. By morning, half the people in the room will have forgotten. It will be a tiny, odd fact about him, an anecdote, perhaps, for a future dinner party. This is what upsets him most.

Related Characters: Ashoke Ganguli (Mithu), Gogol/Nikhil Ganguli, Moushumi Mazoomdar
Page Number: 244
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, a rift grows between Gogol and Moushumi after she tells the story of his name change (from Gogol to Nikhil) to the room at a dinner party with a set of intellectual friends of hers that he despises. This is an emotional betrayal, from Gogol's perspective, since the story was an intensely private one, with a huge amount of significance for Gogol. Moushumi treats it like a funny aside to her friends, which leaves Gogol with the unshakeable feeling that she misunderstood its importance, or is belittling something that, for him, is a major part of his identity. He had believed that this conflicted relationship to his past and identity confusion was something that Moushumi, as a fellow first-generation American from similar circumstances, would understand. The disappointment and regret that Gogol feels in this moment might extend to his decision to marry Moushumi—it seems clear now that the two of them are different in many ways, and that his reasons for marrying her, in search of a part of his identity he thought he had lost, may not have been sufficient to keep them together.  

Chapter 12 Quotes

Ashima feels lonely suddenly, horribly, permanently alone, and briefly, turned away from the mirror, she sobs for her husband. She feels overwhelmed by the thought of the move she is about to make, to the city that was once home and is now in its own way foreign. She feels both impatience and indifference for all the days she still must live, for something tells her she will not go quickly as her husband did.

Related Characters: Ashoke Ganguli (Mithu), Ashima Ganguli (Monu)
Page Number: 278
Explanation and Analysis:

Lahiri returns to Ashima's perspective, and describes her experience of life alone in the house now that Ashoke has passed away. Ashima has decided to move back to India to be with what remains of her extended family, and is also mourning the loss of this home she has built with such dogged perseverance in America. For her whole life, Ashima has lived with either her family in India or her husband Ashoke, and now she is entering a new period of her life, in which she will need to find other forms of companionship. In this moment she is afraid of that new period, but resigned to it at the same time, sensing that she still has many years left to live.

The depth of Ashima’s emotion is an indication of just how deeply she loved her husband, and the extent to which their lives were intimately intertwined. This is the best example of true love in the novel, and it blossomed from a traditional arranged marriage, founded in family and custom.

And then the house will be occupied by strangers, and there will be no trace that they were ever there, no house to enter, no name in the telephone directory. Nothing to signify the years his family has lived here, no evidence of the effort, the achievement it had been. It’s hard to believe that his mother is really going, that for months she will be so far. He wonders how his parents had done it, leaving their respective families behind, seeing them so seldom, dwelling unconnected, in a perpetual state of expectation, of longing.

Related Characters: Ashoke Ganguli (Mithu), Ashima Ganguli (Monu), Gogol/Nikhil Ganguli
Page Number: 281
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Gogol imagines the house he grew up in being passed along to a new family, now that his mother has made the decision to move back to India for six months of each year. The anchor that his father’s photograph had been in this place will be removed, and the house—such a major part of his past and present identity—will be transferred away as if it had never belonged to the Gangulis, with no remnant of their name to mark its history. Gogol now has a new appreciation for his parents’ struggle, as immigrants, to turn this house into a home, and a different kind of respect for them accompanies it. Now that he is losing his childhood home, he can finally understand how difficult it must have been for them to leave theirs and come here to America, sacrificing stability and comfort to live in the isolation of this new country. Gogol finally sees how important family and a family home are in life, forming the roots of a stable identity—and, ironically, it is in this moment that his roots are being removed. Still, his greater self-awareness about the importance of his roots and increasing reconciliation with his heritage suggests hope for his continued search for a meaningful identity.  

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Ashoke Ganguli (Mithu) Character Timeline in The Namesake

The timeline below shows where the character Ashoke Ganguli (Mithu) appears in The Namesake. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
...to go into the very early stages of labor, and calls out for her husband, Ashoke, although according to her custom she does not use his first name. (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
...is too short. Her doctor informs them that the labor will take some time, and Ashoke leaves Ashima alone with the other women in the room. She hears one of the... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
...again, to her memories of Calcutta, Ashima recalls the first time she met her husband Ashoke. The meeting had been arranged by their families, and as she stood outside the room... (full context)
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...recalling her elaborate wedding preparations with joy and describing her new life in America with Ashoke. She has learned about his special fondness for potatoes, his careful approach to clothing, and... (full context)
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Ashoke has returned to the hospital waiting room, having been warned that the baby could come... (full context)
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Ashoke continues to read the paper as he walks, limping slightly. This habit is carried on... (full context)
Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
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On the journey to his grandparents’ home in the North, Ashoke brings only one book—a collection of short stories by Nikolai Gogol that his grandfather had... (full context)
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
The other passengers in his cabin go to sleep, but Ashoke stays up late into the night, reading and taking in the sounds of the train.... (full context)
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For the next year, Ashoke lay flat in bed, unable even to feed himself, listening to the sounds from the... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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Although he has now left India, the memory of the train crash still haunts Ashoke at times. He feels lucky to have survived, and considers his life to be broken... (full context)
Chapter 2
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
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The baby is born! After Ashima recovers from the intensity of childbirth, Ashoke enters to find her and the baby, whose name card reads only “Baby Boy Ganguli.”... (full context)
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Three others visit the new family in the hospital, all Bengali friends whom Ashima and Ashoke have met in Cambridge. Dr. Gupta, a post-doc at M.I.T., gives the baby an illustrated... (full context)
Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...their son after someone of importance to them, and then he leaves the room. Suddenly, Ashoke has an idea, and reaches out to his son, calling him Gogol for the first... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
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...story of a slightly run-down, salmon-colored house near Harvard. This is the house to which Ashoke first brought Ashima, on a street of similarly pastel homes, although it was not until... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
...Alan Montgomery, along with their two children. Alan is a sociology professor at Harvard, and Ashoke is confused by his flip-flops and threadbare trousers, since he himself often wears a jacket... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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...would have had the responsibility of cleaning the house. “I can’t do this,” she tells Ashoke, and when he attempts to reassure her she makes her meaning clear: she tells him... (full context)
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Observing his wife, Ashoke sees that their time in America has already taken a toll. He knows she is... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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...with Gogol for first time. She cries all day, feeling desperately alone. When she calls Ashoke to ask him to bring home rice—she has tried to borrow from Judy, but her... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
...life. She responds with careful descriptions of her son’s development, telling them that she and Ashoke are planning a trip to India after Gogol turns one. She does not tell them... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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...his first ear infection and they see his pet name on the prescription, Ashima and Ashoke are reminded that the letter from Ashima’s grandmother has not yet arrived. The next day,... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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The community of Bengali friends in Cambridge is ever growing, as young PhD students like Ashoke fly back to Calcutta and return with wives to start their families in America. Ashima... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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...Some call for him to take the dollar, since an American must be rich, while Ashoke urges him to take the pen. Gogol frowns, taking nothing, and begins to cry. (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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...exit the train she leaves all of her purchases behind. Humiliated, she is amazed when Ashoke’s call to the MBTA lost and found leads to the objects’ safe return. (full context)
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One night a call from India wakes them, and before Ashoke tells her the news Ashima feels instinctively that her grandmother has died. She begins to... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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...Telling him that she no longer wants to go, Ashima turns to the window as Ashoke takes her hand and the plane takes off, Gogol screaming with the change in air... (full context)
Chapter 3
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
Identity and Naming Theme Icon
...of Boston, where they are the only Bengalis in a small, typically Northeastern university town. Ashoke has been hired as an assistant professor of electrical engineering, with his own office and... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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...bought at yard sales, a concept that had initially struck Ashima as shameful, but which Ashoke points out that even his chairman at the university embraces. The yard is still unfinished,... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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...Sesame Street as well, to keep up with his English lessons at nursery. At night Ashoke cooks, a strange sight for Gogol, and the two eat together while Ashima is in... (full context)
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
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...they have finally chosen: Nikhil, meaning “he who is entire, encompassing all.” Ashima consented when Ashoke suggested it, still secretly heartbroken by the disappearance of her grandmother’s letter. Gogol is not... (full context)
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...it differently than his parents have, but he does not respond. To spur his response, Ashoke resorts to speaking to his son in English for the first time, but forgets and... (full context)
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...friends, the life that they have left behind dwindles, as family members—those who still call Ashoke and Ashima by their pet names “Monu” and “Mithu”—pass away. They are left parentless within... (full context)
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Ashoke and Ashima give in to America in other ways as well. Although Ashima sticks to... (full context)
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Ashoke puts their family name in gold letters on their mailbox, and one morning Gogol sees... (full context)
Chapter 4
The Indian Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Family, Tradition, and Ritual Theme Icon
Independence, Rebellion, and Growing Up Theme Icon
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...to listen to the Beatles, an album he received from one of his American friends. Ashoke then enters with a gift, which is unusual—he has never bought Gogol a present other... (full context)
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...Short Stories of Nikolai Gogol, a special copy ordered from a small press in England. Ashoke waits expectantly, but Gogol is unimpressed—he does not know the story of his father’s train... (full context)
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Ashoke notices the ways in which his son is growing up and beginning to resemble him... (full context)
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The next year, Ashoke is up for a sabbatical, and so he and Ashima decide that the family will... (full context)
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...see the tree when she comes downstairs, but there are only suitcases. At the airport, Ashoke hands in their two U.S. passports and two American ones, asking for two Hindu meals.... (full context)
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...embraces of their relatives, whose special names Gogol and Sonia must take care to remember. Ashoke and Ashima feel emotional at the reunion, but their children are unmoved. While their parents... (full context)
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...another compartment of the train, a man is stabbed in his sleep and robbed, reminding Ashoke of the fateful accident from his past. (full context)
Chapter 5
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...his name should be Bengali, not Russian, and that no one takes him seriously. When Ashoke asks whom he is referring to, he offers a vague reply, secretly aware that it... (full context)
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...a suicide on the track. He arrives at the station in his hometown late, where Ashoke has been waiting nervously for three hours, thinking of his own accident. (full context)
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In the driveway before they enter the house, Ashoke decides to tell Gogol about that accident, and the true origins of his name. His... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...him at work late one evening, asking him to come home and say goodbye to Ashoke before he leaves for a prestigious nine-month teaching fellowship in Ohio. Gogol is annoyed that... (full context)
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...in front of his parents, and that there will be no wine with lunch—Ashima and Ashoke do not even own a corkscrew. Maxine is amused by the rules, and when they... (full context)
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Ashoke enters and insists that they move their rental car into the driveway so that it... (full context)
Chapter 7
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...that is copied from one of her father’s letters. Now that she is alone, with Ashoke teaching in Ohio, she has time for such crafts. (full context)
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...whom have grown children also and are divorced—they gossip about the perils of middle-age dating. Ashoke visits every three weekends, paying the bills, raking the leaves, and putting gas in the... (full context)
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One afternoon, Ashoke calls earlier than usual, from a hospital in Ohio. Ashima is frightened, but he reassures... (full context)
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...her last name as usual. She hangs up and returns to work. Later, worried about Ashoke, she tries to contact the hospital, spelling her name out letter by letter for the... (full context)
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...who regrets not having come with him. Gogol remembers that the last time he saw Ashoke had been with her, on their way to New Hampshire. Maxine is shocked to hear... (full context)
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...the moment when he must face his mother and sister. He remembers the grief of Ashoke and Ashima when they lost their own parents. He remembers his father shaving his head... (full context)
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...turned outward because of his slight limp. When they reached the end, surrounded by sea, Ashoke realized he had forgotten the camera. “We will have to remember it, then,” he says,... (full context)
Chapter 8
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It has been a year since Ashoke’s death. Gogol and Maxine are no longer together—the argument that ended their unraveling relationship had... (full context)
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...down soon, but he tries to keep from being annoyed—as he might have been before Ashoke’s death. One day Ashima mentions a girl Gogol used to know, a Bengali named Moushumi... (full context)
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...a bit awkward. Moushumi remembers his house, and his family, and she apologizes for missing Ashoke’s funeral. She had been in Paris at the time, after graduating from Brown, and is... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...then separate into their families for the last time. Gogol wears an old Punjabi of Ashoke’s, and Ashima is dressed up for the first time since her husband’s death. Sonia gives... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...her husband, no doubt picked out by one of her children. She does not fault Ashoke for this fact, which could seem like a lack of care. She no longer wonders... (full context)
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...first time, Gogol feels he understands what it must have been like for Ashima and Ashoke to leave their past life in India, and he wonders if he has the same... (full context)
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Gogol reflects that their life has been formed by a series of accidents—first Ashoke’s train accident, inspiring him to move to America, then the disappearance of the letter containing... (full context)
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...the book, which has been saved as if by chance from being lost, just as Ashoke had been saved from the train accident years ago. Gogol reads the author’s bio—in ten... (full context)