Summary and Analysis Chapter 9

 

Summary

Gogol and Moushumi marry the following year in a ceremony that their parents plan. During the lengthy Hindu ceremony and even lengthier reception, Gogol feels disconnected from the festivities. He realizes how easily he might have been attending Moushumi’s wedding with Graham two years ago instead of sitting beside her now.

After the wedding, in the hotel’s honeymoon suite, Gogol remembers the day of his proposal, Moushumi’s birthday, when he gave her the expensive hat he bought for her after their second date and an engagement ring. She was more surprised by the hat than the ring, which she expected. In the honeymoon suite, he calls her “Mrs. Ganguli” but then remembers that she has decided not to change her last name.

Gogol and Moushumi move in together, and Gogol sometimes finds reminders of Moushumi’s life with Graham. He learns that she saved the wedding dress she had been planning to wear when she married Graham; Moushumi explains that she wants to have the dress dyed.

When Moushumi travels to a conference in Paris, Gogol accompanies her. At first, Gogol follows Moushumi, feeling out of place because she is so comfortable in Paris and he is so uncomfortable. After Gogol tells Moushumi of his discomfort, she sends him out to explore on his own while she participates in her conference. They are happier apart than together. When the time comes to leave, Moushumi turns wistful, confessing that part of her wishes she had never left Paris.

Back at home in Brooklyn, Gogol and Moushumi attend a dinner party hosted by Moushumi’s friends Astrid and Donald, who first introduced Moushumi to Graham and who continue to remind Gogol about Graham. When the topic of names comes up at the dinner party, Moushumi tells everyone that Gogol changed his name. Gogol feels that Moushumi has betrayed his trust.

Analysis

Because Moushumi and Gogol are Bengali, their parents seize the opportunity to have a Bengali wedding, which causes Moushumi and Gogol to feel disconnected from the wedding preparations and even from the ceremony itself. Instead of their wedding being a day that connects them more deeply to each other, the entire day hints of a rift in their relationship. They begin to wonder if they are simply acting on their parents’ wishes rather than marrying each other out of love.

The wedding ceremony creates an immediate emotional distance between Moushumi and Gogol. During the ceremony, Gogol finds himself reflecting on how close Moushumi was to marrying Graham. His jealousy of Graham continues later that evening as they count their gift money: Gogol remembers that the reason Moushumi was reluctant to register for gifts, plan a honeymoon, or do other stereotypical wedding activities was that she had already done all these things with Graham. Gogol is only her second choice. Even Moushumi’s first words to Gogol after the ceremony are a rejection of him: Gogol tries to persuade Moushumi to slip away with him for a few minutes, but she refuses.

Moushumi’s choosing not to change her last name to Ganguli furthers the sense of distance between them. For Gogol, names are an important marker of identity: He knows firsthand the power that changing a name can have on who a person becomes. For Moushumi to refuse his last name feels like a rejection of his identity. Not only does Moushumi refuse Gogol’s last name, but she also treats the story of his name change like a joke while she is talking with her friends. What feels to Gogol like an intimate part of his identity Moushumi sees as an insignificant piece of biographical information, an amusing talking point during a party.

Gogol is not the only one experiencing a crisis of identity. Moushumi, too, struggles to reconcile her childhood and adult lives. Whereas Gogol’s attempt to escape his Bengali side was manifested most strongly in his relationship with Maxine, Moushumi’s escape from childhood came about not only through her relationship with Graham but also through her life in Paris and her friendship with Astrid and Donald. Although Graham is now out of the picture, she is still drawn toward a life that rejects her Bengali heritage by the lure of Paris and her other friendships. She tries to welcome Gogol into this world, but she can’t help but feel that he is an impediment to the life she wants to live. Gogol shackles Moushumi to her childhood, and though she is currently tolerating this burden, it’s clear that she won’t tolerate it forever.

 
 
 
 
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