The Namesake

The Namesake Summary and Analysis of Chapters 9 and 10


Within a year of dating, Gogol and Moushumi get married in New Jersey in a ceremony that is almost entirely planned and managed by their parents. Gogol had proposed to her by presenting her with the expensive hat that she had tried on during their first date. Much of Moushumi's wedding garb had been purchased for her canceled wedding to Graham. On the morning of their wedding, Gogol gets ready quite quickly and Moushumi, on the other hand, has many more preparations in terms of her appearance. The ceremony is huge and overwhelming, exhausting to both of them. After the wedding, they open their presents together in the hotel room. Moushumi has decided to keep her own last name, since she has already begun to publish writing under her maiden name.

They move into an apartment together and get used to married life. They go to Paris in March together; Moushumi is presenting a paper at a conference, so Gogol accompanies her as a vacation. While there, he feels lonely because Moushumi is so obviously at home in the city. He goes sightseeing by himself and wishes it were also Moushumi's first time in the city, so they could share the experience together. She tells him a part of her wishes she never had left Paris; he reminds her that then she never would have met him.

In May, Gogol and Moushumi are at a dinner party at the home of Astrid and Donald, the couple with whom Moushumi stayed after breaking off her engagement with Graham. Gogol feels out of place among Moushumi's friends. It bothers him that Moushumi always takes the advice of Astrid and Donald; he feels like she wishes her own relationship could be more like theirs. He wanders around their townhouse and attempts to help Donald prepare dinner, but feels lonely.

Astrid is pregnant and the conversation inevitably turns to what she should name her baby. Moushumi reveals two things: that her name means "a damp southwesterly breeze," something that she had never told Gogol before, and that Gogol had changed his name to Nikhil. For some reason he feels betrayed by her sharing this intimate detail about his past. He tries to communicate this to her, but she is too drunk to notice his discomfort.

Chapter 10 switches point of view to that of Moushumi. On their first wedding anniversary, she has planned dinner at a restaurant recommended to her by Astrid and Donald. She wears the dress she had worn on the first day they slept together, when she had burned the dinner she meant to cook for him; he doesn't remember it and this disappoints her. She feels unhappy and tense throughout the whole dinner, but cannot put her finger on why. The restaurant is not satisfactory and is overpriced, which makes her even crankier.

Two days later, Moushumi arrives at the university to discover that the secretary, Alice, has died suddenly of an aneurysm. Moushumi decides to help sort the mail and comes across a resume from a man named Dimitri Desjardins. She knows him; they had met on a bus to a rally in Washington, D.C. while she was in high school. He is older than she is and had gone on one date with her, but abandoned the effort when she made the mistake of asking him to her high school prom.

Moushumi decides to photocopy Dimitri's resume so she can get in touch with him. At home, she finds an edition of The Red and the Black by Stendhal that Dimitri had sent to her during her time at Brown, while they were still in touch. She makes the decision to call Dimitri and they begin having an affair on Mondays and Wednesdays, after she teaches her class. He always makes her lunch and then they have sex. Gogol does not suspect anything about the affair, but Moushumi finds it difficult to sleep and often spends whole nights awake in bed next to her husband.


The theme of the United States vs. India is apparent during the wedding between Moushumi and Gogol. Their parents plan the entire thing, inviting people neither of them has met and engaging in rituals neither of them understands. They don't have the type of intimate, personal wedding their American friends would have planned. "It's not the type of wedding either of them really wants," but they give in to what their parents and families have planned and expect.

Gogol feels alienated sometimes in his marriage to Moushumi. When he finds remnants of her life with Graham around the apartment they now share together, he wonders if "he represents some sort of capitulation or defeat." When they go to Paris together, he wishes it were her first time there, too, so he didn't feel so out of place while she feels so obviously comfortable.

The tension of life versus death is apparent to Gogol, as he gets ready for his wedding. "Their shared giddiness, the excitement of the preparations, saddens him, all of it reminding him that his father is dead." His father's absence is apparent in contrast to the celebration of his new life with Moushumi.

Gogol begins to feel more and more nostalgic as his marriage with Moushumi progresses. In Paris, he wishes he could stay in bed with Moushumi for hours as they used to do, rather than having to sightsee by himself while she prepares for her presentation. During the dinner party at the home of Astrid and Donald, Gogol becomes nostalgic for when he and Moushumi were first dating, and had spent an entire afternoon designing their ideal house.

The theme of name and identity emerges in Chapter 9 while Astrid, Donald, and the guests at the dinner party discuss what to name Astrid's baby. Moushumi reveals to the guests nonchalantly that Nikhil was not always named Nikhil. This offends him because it feels like a betrayal of an intimate detail only she knew to people he doesn't like.

Chapter 10, during which Moushumi begins having an affair with Dimitri, is told from Moushumi's point of view. For that reason, the narrator refers to Gogol as "Nikhil;" that is how Moushumi knows her husband. This narration decision makes Moushumi's decision to have an affair with Dimitri more sympathetic than it would be to the reader had it been discovered from Gogol's point of view.