My Thoughts on Love and Hybridity (The Namesake Ch 8 to the End)

Listening to: Persona Q Shadow of the Labyrinth Full OST

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Hi, it’s Adam and I am so happy I finished reading this book. It was a struggle to go through this section and having to read about Gogol’s and Moushumi’s love life; however, I found the ending to be alright which I will explain more later in this post. The topics about being in a relationship and about identity stood out the most to me while I was reading these last few chapters.

One of the first things that I thought of was the idea of arranged marriage. In chapter 8, “as much as he wants to make his mother happy, [Gogol] refuses to let her set him up with someone. He refuses to go that far” (Lahiri 192). Despite Gogol wanting to follow Ashima’s wishes and therefore make her happy, he refuses to meet with Moushumi which could result in an arranged marriage. If I were Gogol, I would have done the same thing. I strongly dislike the notion of marrying because of your parents’ wishes instead of what you want. How can you deal with living with someone for a significant portion of your life everyday if you do not love them? That sort of relationship would probably not work and would likely be painful for either of them. I’ve read a few stories where a character is engaged to another because of their parents, but the former is in love with someone else. It’s such a painful situation to read because it completely sucks that the character cannot be with who they truly love. I can’t imagine myself having an arranged marriage; I would definitely refuse.

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My reaction to Gogol tasting her scalp oil.

Despite Gogol initially refusing his mother’s request, he ends up falling in love with Moushumi and vice versa. Even though this was arranged, they are happy with each other (at least for now). For example, “when he kisses her head he tastes the oil that accumulates on her scalp between shampoos” (211). On this page, Gogol is happy to see what Moushumi doesn’t show to the world. Even though I found that Gogol tasting the oil on her scalp utterly repulsive, it shows the degree of his love towards her. It’s like tasting each others spit when a couple kisses. He loves Moushumi for who she is and that is great. This is what I believe love should be like, loving someone for who they are.

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by Toby Dixon

Moving on from the subject of love, Moushumi’s complete transformation when she lived in a new city made me wonder about myself. The author writes, “She was exactly the same person, looked and behaved the same way, and yet suddenly, in that new city, she was transformed into the kind of girl she had once envied, had believed she would never become” (215). When she was living with her parents, she mostly read books and did not interact with people that much. But when she moved to Paris, she started being a lot more social and even had affairs with men. Her transformation is quite extreme which makes me wonder how much I would change when I move out in the future. I don’t think it will be quite as extreme as her’s, but I think I will likely see a significant change especially because I will be living without my parents supervision and share a living space with complete strangers.

On the subject of change in identity, Gogol has finally changed his view on needing to be one identity or the other. He realizes that “[w]ithout people in the world to call him Gogol, […] Gogol Ganguli will, once and for all, vanish from the lips of loved ones, and so, cease to exist. Yet the thought of this eventual demise provides no sense of victory, no solace” (289). Gogol initially liked the name “Gogol” when he was younger but then he started hating Gogol because he did not want to associate himself with his Bengali identity. He ended up changing it to Nikhil which corresponds to his American identity. Nikhil was drastically different from Gogol; Gogol didn’t go out with girls, and was a “responsible” child, whereas Nikhil was the party-goer, was the one having sex with other women, and getting drunk. But now, he finds that not having someone that knows Gogol isn’t something that he wants instead of “Thank God that’s over.” Furthermore, “he starts to read [“The Overcoat”]” which shows that he has accepted his Bengali identity (291). He avoided reading this book because it was where he got his name from—he hated being Gogol before. Now that he started reading this book, he takes a step forward to being a hybrid. He starts to realize that he can’t be Nikhil or Gogol separately but rather a mix of his Bengali and American personas. Being a hybrid myself (Chinese-American), I also agree with this. Both sides are a part of my identity and they should coexist with each other.

Overall, I think Lahiri had a few good messages in this novel even though I found it boring and a struggle to read. It was quite annoying having to wait at least 200 pages for Gogol to finally accept being a hybrid and quite annoying to read about all his experiences with other women. I’m glad that I am almost done with this novel, just an essay left…

Some questions I have for you are: What do you think about the notion of arranged marriages? Would you have one? What are your thoughts on the ending of the novel? Did you like it?

Let me know in the comments below. I look forward to reading them.

-Adam

 

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6 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Love and Hybridity (The Namesake Ch 8 to the End)

  1. Hi Adam!

    Nice blog! I enjoy how our perspectives of the books are so similar!!

    Similar to you, I also cannot nearly fathom myself having an arranged marriage. I feel like there are just too many places where arranged marriages can go wrong- the biggest issue (in my eyes) being “what happens if the couple do not like one another, much less love?” Along with all the variables, there is further pressure placed on the couple by the parents… Goodbye easy divorce…

    As for the ending of the novel, I feel like it is suuppppeeerrr open ended. Yes, I am unsatisfied. Similar to your thoughts, I cannot believe that, after 200+ pages of Gogol’s life, we are left with Gogol accepting his identity and hybridity, not knowing what he will do in response with his coming of peace. Will he happily marry, raise a family, and lead a happy life? Or will he experience heartbreak again and again, eventually dying alone?? Will he get a heart attack on a train??? I can go on and on about these questions… but I digress.

    I thoroughly enjoyed your blog, looking forward for your next blog post!!

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    1. Hi Eric, thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my post. I found it funny when you said “Will he get a heart attack on a train???” A lot of important events happened on trains in this book so the idea of Gogol getting a heart attack on the train isn’t so far-fetched.

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  2. Hey Adam great post! I can definitely agree that the parts talking abou Gogol and Moushumi relationship did drag on quite a bit, especially when things got really cheesy. It’s definitely hard if you marry someone as per the request of someone else because in the end if you don’t love the person how can things possibly end well? It’s crazy to think how much a change in environment can alter your personality and how people perceive you. I mean like you said Moushumi went from a quiet girl who loved to read books to a more outgoing and bold person. It definitely makes you wonder how much a change in scenery can affect someone, especially reading about characters who go through such a degree of change when they are living somewhere new. That’s a fair question, because obviously who you are with and where can deeply impact how you act. It was quite symbolic when he starting reading the book because he wasn’t trying to escape who he was, instead he was embracing it. Though it was a bit boring at times to always read about Gogol’s complaints in the end there was an important lesson that resonates with everyone I would say. That we are all living with insecurities about who we are, but in the end if we accept ourselves everything else will fall into place.

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting on my post! I also think everyone has their own insecurities, and of course I have them as well, and should accept themselves for who they are. It definitely helps to have close friends who are there for you.

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  3. Hi Adam,

    I’m happy that the book is over too! I had the same reaction when Gogol tasted the oil on Moushumi’s scalp too XD… It was so random and unnecessary haha. I generally don’t like the thought of arranged marriages either, however in the case of Gogol and Moushumi, I thought it wasn’t so bad because they genuinely liked each other (at least at the beginning before they got bored of each other). Because they liked each other, it didn’t seem as forced as what people usually think arranged marriages are like. I found Gogol and Moushumi’s identity changes to be very strange. If I changed my name or moved to a new place, I think it would be natural to change a little bit, due to how you perceive yourself (and how others perceive you) or the change in environment, but to change to the degree that Gogol and Moushumi changed is just baffling to me. I would think that one’s personality would remain more or less the same, right? Or maybe that’s just me. Anyway, it was entertaining reading your blog post this week. Now we don’t have to read about Gogol hooking up with random girls and his love life with Moushumi anymore!!

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    1. Hi Emily, thank you for reading and commenting on my post! Their “arranged marriage” wasn’t as forced as I thought when I hear those words which is good. I also found Gogol’s and Moushumi’s drastic change in personality a bit too extreme.

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