by Jhumpa Lahiri
Analysis: What's Up With the Ending?
In some ways, the story ends in the same way that it begins, with Ashima preparing a traditional Indian dish. This small parallel reminds us of all the ways in which the Ganguli family has changed over the years.
Ashoke is no longer by Ashima's side. Ashima prepares for a Christmas Eve party, a holiday she would never have celebrated if she had never moved to the United States. Instead of moving in, Ashima is moving out, chucking out all her possessions so she can live like a nomad, shuttling between India and the United States. If at the beginning of the novel, Ashima was adamant about maintaining Bengali traditions and customs, then by the end of the novel, she has accepted the messy mix of Indian and American culture that has become her life as an immigrant.
Gogol Meets Gogol, Finally
The story also returns to the question of Gogol's name. Over the course of the entire novel, Gogol has rebelled against his. When his father gives him a book of short stories by Nikolai Gogol for his fourteenth birthday, Gogol tosses it aside in favor of the much cooler Beatles' White Album.
At the end of the novel, though, Gogol's not so anti-Gogol anymore. He has started to come to terms with his Indian-American identity. He doesn't try to ignore Bengali custom, and he doesn't envy the American ways of his ex-girlfriends. He's saddened by the fact that his mother is going to India soon, the loss of his family home, and finally, the loss of the personal, familial side of himself that the name Gogol came to represent. It is in this spirit that Gogol finally opens his father's gift and begins to read. It's about time, buddy.