Gogol Torn In Different Directions Essay

1391 words - 6 pages

As Gogol grows up we can use his name as a window to his psyche. When Gogol is young he does not mind his name. On page 59 when he goes for his first day of school, he does not want to be called Nikhil or anything else. He knows himself only as Gogol and this is what he demands to be called. This is important because it is the first time he is presented with the option to change his name. Gogol has a strong sense of self at this point and knows no other influences. Once he is exposed to the outside influence of school, he begins to realize his name is peculiar. This is where Gogol begins to have doubts about his name. He is experiencing the typical doubts and ensuing paranoia that accompany puberty. It is typical of adolescence to believe that everyone will pick you out because of a stray from normalcy. However, Gogol does not realize that the most an unusual name will evoke is fleeting thought. As a result Gogol does a very normal thing, he begins to change things about himself to test if his environment will respond positively or negatively. The abnormality is Gogol has the option of changing his name whereas most would not even consider it in a serious capacity.
It is at this point that the problem of identity begins to develop. On page 95 He has the positive experience with the girl he meets in the college dorm room after telling her his name is Nikhil, along with a few other choice lies. In a way, this is his first real step outside of his shell and he does it as Nikhil. As a result, he never gives Gogol a chance. If the situation was an experiment of sorts, it was flawed by the changing of more than one variable. He changed his extraversion and his name in the same experiment. This confound leaves the possibility that it was him that the girl was responding to not the name. However, Gogol assumes a "don't mess with success" mentality which leads him to making a superficial "fix" to his personality. This relates to the analogy of the plastic surgery. Gogol chooses to fix his confidence problem with a total overhaul of self. It is possible that this one moment has an echoing effect in his life. If he still sees himself as Gogol as he did in elementary school, the text would imply he does by referring to him as such throughout, then think of the implications. Would it not at some level of consciousness mean that Gogol is never good enough, or never approved? It is these thoughts that lead Gogol to legally change his name to Nikhil on page 102 before heading to college
Gogol has a fear of rejection. When thinking of Gogol’s life this fear seems more apparent. He never really distinguishes himself, an identity. In his life he has 3 main relationships. Of those three, he never chose the girl himself. The girl has approached him, which is the case with both Ruth and Maxine, or his mother set it up, which is the case with Moushumi. There is an interesting coincidence that his parents had an arranged marriage, to which as an American he is...

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