The God of Small Things - Wikipedia
The relationship between Ammu and Velutha is a revolt against the boundaries . In fact, Velutha is given his name “which means white in Malayalam, because . from this family – Mammachi, Ammu, Rahel and Baby Kochamma – in relation to their relationship with his mother, with his wife Margaret, his sister Ammu and the “Ammu and Velutha are portrayed in the novel as the victims of the .. hypocrisy reminds us of the white lady in Wole Soyinka's poem, Telephone. The God of Small Things is the debut novel of Indian writer Arundhati Roy. It is a story about the When her relationship with Velutha is discovered, Ammu is locked in her room His name means white in Malayalam, because he is so dark.
Pappachi would believe an Indian being adulterous but he regards the English so highly, an Englishman would be incapable of such a travesty — hence the Englishman is more honorable, decent, and virtuous than an Indian man. Roy also places emphasis on the characters that are of the white race. The household waits in anticipation for the arrival of the English child, Sophie Mol, and her mother Margaret — an English woman that Chacko married.
She left Chacko for a more appealing Englishman named Joe. Rahel as well marries an American and relocated to Boston, only to return to Ayemenem after their divorce. The Indian relationship that is depicted in the book is between Pappachi and Mammachi, Babba and Ammu — both relationships suffer from horrible conditions: This displays the lack of honor or virtue by the Indian males and a stronger argument that the Englishman is superior.
This internalized racism grows becoming more than a feeling of inferiority to the English. It transforms into intra-racial racism — a discrimination within the Indian community. Darker Indians are looked down upon while paler Indians, such as Sophie Mol, who is in fact half English half Indian, reign with superiority. In The God of Small Things, the author makes clear that the Indian main characters have internalized the supposed superiority of the white people and then project this view upon the darker within their culture.
Moreover, the depth of color and its association within inferiority reaches its pinnacle within The God of Small Things through the character of Velutha. Through the almost worship of Sophie Mol and, to some degree, Margaret, the meager acceptance of Ammu, and the castigation of Velutha, the reader begins to form a hierarchy of color where lightness is praised and darkness is mistrusted and illtreated.
This man had taken a young boy as his lover and then killed himself when the child was taken away, leading to the connection of even the word black as something taboo Roy When Sophie Mol drowns it is Velutha, who was not even present when the accident occurred, who is blamed and then brutally beaten, and dies in prison. In conclusion, intra-racial racism can be seen in The God of Small Things through the hierarchal distinction of skin color in India.
This can be seen in relation to the caste system as well as the family structure. Anglo traits in a person make them worthy of worship while dark skin reduces a person to the lowest degree. One can see this most specifically, as noted above, in the characters of Sophie Mol and Velutha, characters who are polar opposites in the novel and are treated so.
They continue through the novel, adrift in an unending quest for stability, fighting the inner voice of double consciousness while stagnated by the outside chaos of hybridity. Estha, upon his return to Ayemenem wanders the streets of the town and then explores greater distances in surrounding areas.
Never revealing himself, never appearing not to. Emerging through the chaos unscathed. By this point Estha has grown to a man but has suffered from double consciousness since his early childhood. Rahel is much the same. She is unable to maintain a relationship with her husband due to the results of her double consciousness. Because of the double consciousness inflicted on her, Rahel only felt at home and stable with Estha who mutually floundered through his existence.
That the emptiness in one twin was only a version of the quietness in the other. They were capable of speaking their native language, Malayalam, but when they chose to speak it they were reprimanded. Not only was language conflicted but religion was as well. The twins also fall victims to the continual home discussions of Anglophilia. Through a learned love of the conquering nation, Great Britain, the children are raised among people who idealize what is foreign rather than the native elements that surround them.
The twins are made to feel inferior in comparison to their English cousin, Sophie Mol. We sail unanchored on troubled seas. We may never be allowed ashore. They suffer from the feeling of being destitute among what really should be considered their homeland.
Even through the course of the novel, Estha and Rahel never have a true home to belong to. The book The God of Small Things continually cycled around the idea of rights: All of which are things that are lost to the twins Estha and Rahel through their experiences, traveling through their own hearts of darkness. God of Small Things: From The Critics Posted: Wild creepers burst through laterite banks and spill across the flooded roads.
The wild, overgrown garden was full of the whisper and scurry of small lives. In the undergrowth a rat snake rubbed itself against glistening stone. The God of Small Things is a story of forbidden, cross-caste love and what a community will do to protect the old ways.
The Kochamma family business, Paradise Pickles and Preserves, is emblematic of the theme. Ayemenem is practically pickled in history. Roy, an architect and screenwriter who grew up in Kerala, capably shoulders the burdens of caste and tradition, a double weight that crushes some of her characters and warps others, but leaves none untouched. Roy takes up classic material, but she delights in verbal innovation and stylistic tricks.
Beneath the drama of a family tragedy lies a background of local politics, social taboos and the tide of history all of which come together in a slip of fate, after which a family is irreparably shattered. The Big Things lurk unsaid inside. The major characters are Estha and Rahel, the fraternal twin son and daughter of a wealthy family living in the province of Kerala. In part a perfectly paced mystery story, in part an Indian Wuthering Heights: A novel that turns out to be as subtle as it is powerful.
An international bestseller, this exquisite novel will surely be remembered — and reread — in years to come. Rahel and Estha are cared for by a host of compelling characters: Tragedy strikes in the form of an accident that may not have been accidental and a terrifying murder. Tremendously powerful and lushly romantic, The God Of Small Things effectively shifts between two time periods: Rahel and Estha learn too soon that love and life can be lost in a millisecond.
The Lawlessness of Love Posted: Namboodiripad inbut Nehru dissolved it in Inthe year Rahel and Estha were born, India fought a limited war over a border dispute with China. As a result of the Chinese conflict, the CPI split between a pro-Russian faction, still called the CPI, and a faction that grew to be less influenced by foreign governments, called the Communist Party of India Marxist. In the mid- s, a further split in the Indian communist parties formed the Naxalites, who advocated an immediate communist revolution, while tensions between Pakistan and India flared into war in Although Indira Gandhi remained in control of the larger, liberal faction, she was forced to forge alliances with left-wing parties in order to maintain control of the government.
A series of leadership struggles begins inwhen Rao is forced out of power. Manmohan Singh is appointed prime minister of India in May ofafter the Congress Party unexpectedly wins the election and its leader Sonia Gandhiwidow of Rajiv Gandhideclines the post in order to appease Hindu nationalists.
Communism remains a powerful force in Kerala politics. Kerala is a lush and warm region of southern India with a uniquely high literacy rate. Public welfare systems have become much more substantial since independence, but the agricultural economy remains similar to the economy in the days of the British Raj. India has one of the largest and fastest-growing economies in the world, and the trend towards privatization continues. Kerala has a literacy rate near ninety percent, which is the highest of any state in India.
Post-colonial Indian literature written in English is becoming a popular genre of its own, developed by writers such as R. Indian writing in English is a wide and diverse genre of literature, and Roy is one of its most successful stars, even though she has published only one novel.
Indira Gandhi was convicted of minor election law violations inbut she declared a state of emergency in order to stay in power. Widely unpopular, this move allowed her to arrest opposition leaders and censor the press, and she was defeated in the elections. Gandhi was elected once again inhowever, and began to meet with foreign leaders while dealing with several insurgencies in India. Inshe sent Indian troops to storm a Sikh temple, killing the Sikh guerillas inside, and this event led to her assassination by two of her Sikh bodyguards.
Rajiv Gandhi sponsored economic reforms, but he was criticized as an indecisive leader and lost the election. Roy wrote her novel in the early s, during a period in which Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a Sri Lankan Tamil in while campaigning for an election that political analysts believe he would have won. Narasimha Rao was prime minister. Rao became known for his sensitive handling of Hindu- Muslim tensions, his economic reforms, and his progressive foreign policy in response to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Critical Overview The God of Small Things was an unprecedented international success for a first-time author. The novel has also caused some controversy in India, where it was first published. Critics generally group the novel into the genre of post-colonial Indian literature that takes Indian politics and history as its subject.
In the following essay, Trudell discusses the significance of the sexual encounters between Rahel and Estha, and Ammu and Velutha. The God of Small Things builds an incredible amount of anticipation and expectation for the definitive moment of the story.
All of the tension, desire, and desperation beneath the surface of the narrative converges into these expressions of love, which are examples of perhaps the greatest, most unthinkable taboos of all. This essay will discuss why the two forbidden sexual episodes in the final two chapters of The God of Small Things are so crucial to the history of the Kochamma family and the emblematic of the meaning of the novel.
Before discussing the significance of these episodes, however, it will help to establish how and why they are so closely connected. It is immediately clear that they have much in common as doomed, forbidden love trysts, and it is no coincidence that they are revealed and described next to each other, at the end of the narrative.
However, there are other, less obvious connections. The Love Laws represent the strict confines on human behavior—the caste systems, social pressures, and political restrictions that horrify people beyond expression when they are broken. The central action of the novel is about breaking them, and the tragedy that results from breaking them.
For one thing, therefore, the forbidden love affairs at the end of the novel are crucial because they reveal the disgust and horror with the lovers that is at the root of the violence and tragedy directed against them. Present-day Western readers probably do not consider inter-caste romance repulsive, but they are quite likely to be shocked and offended by incest. Incest is as taboo in twenty-first-century Western society as an inter-caste sexual affair would have been in the s, and probably still is, in Kerala.
It is also, however, the result of an entire lifetime of abuse, confinement, and imprisonment in a stinting social code. This code not only fails to protect Ammu against her father beating her with a brass vase, her father imprisoning her in the house even when she is an adult, and her husband beating her; it actually leads to these consequences. What Do I Read Next? The Guide is R. Focusing on the story of Saleem Sinai, who was born at the stroke of midnight marking Independence, it includes elements of magic and fantasy, and it is highly allusive to classic texts including the Bible and Arabian Nights.
The plot centers around the Indian Dr. Aziz, who is accused of raping an English woman. From Baby Kochamma to Chacko to the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man, people are prejudiced towards Ammu and her children, and take advantage of them. In the course of the book, both Ammu and Rahel experience identity crises whose primary goals are, in a sense, discovering who and what they are in relation to their culture and family. Rahel travels back to Ayemenem to see her brother, but her journey is perhaps better described as a quest, through her memories, to discover herself and the roots of her history.
As though they were a rare breed of Siamese twinsphysically separate, but with joint identities. When Ammu studies herself in the mirror and tests whether a toothbrush will stay on her breast, she reveals that she understands herself through her body and her sexual identity, and she seeks out Velutha in order to discover the beautiful part of herself.
These struggles extend, by implication and because they are so closely connected to the political subtext of the novel, to the wider political and psychological identity struggles of all those afflicted by the oppressive social code of southern Indian culture. Joyce Hart Hart is a freelance writer and author of several books.
The setting is exotic; the voice is unique; the characters are complex; and the plot line is mysterious. Upon the first read of The God of Small Things, one cannot help but be drawn into the story that Roy has created, wondering, with each succeeding chapter, what could possibly happen next. There are questions about who these characters are; where the plot line is going; and what the missing details are that the author has purposefully left out, taunting the reader to hurriedly move forward.
Even the setting of the story is alluring with its freshly conceived scenery, unusual town names, striking tropical flora and fauna, as well as the strange social customs.
And even though, after reading this book, one might sense the quality of writing of this gifted novelist, it might take a second, and maybe even a third, reading before one can actually pay attention to the underlying style that makes this novel so invigorating to read. The purpose of this essay is to do just that: First, she captures the attention of the reader. Secondly, the words not only make sense, they describe the objects they are referring to with much greater depth than most single adjectives and metaphors could possibly do, and the author accomplishes this with minimum verbiage.
Dust is gritty and dry, like the weather she is trying to depict. The sweetness of the odor has attracted these characters to explore their world; but the consequences and the reactions of their world have made them sick.
They are not just two words haphazardly added together, but rather they are almost like short poems. They offer the reader vivid images through short expressive words. Other examples of combining words appear when the narrator pulls readers into the funeral of Sophie Mol, a flashback that occurs at the beginning of the novel.
Not only do these words refer to sounds, they also provoke a sense of movement. Once again, Roy has created vibrant descriptions in using her newly conceived words.
Breaking Bounds in Arundhati Roy’s "The God of Small Things" — Anglais
It is as if she has captured a whole movie scene, filled with motion and sound, with just a minimum use of syllables. There is another form of creative vocabulary that Roy makes up. This one reflects children trying to make sense of the adult world through little bits of information that they receive.
So in repeating the Biblical quote that refers to the body decomposing and returning to the dust from whence it came, Rahel tries to mimic the priests. And by Roy using this phrase as well as other similar, child interpretations throughout the novelshe places her readers inside the mind of the very young.
Readers thus are provided with a different view of reality, one that is seen through the eyes of her young characters, children who must face some very tragic circumstances very early in their lives.
- Arundhati Roy: The God of Small Things
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- The God of Small Things
While the family is awaiting the arrival of Sophie Mol and her family at the airport, Estha and Rahel are misbehaving. Like a deep-sounding bell in a mossy well. It explains why she is so focused on language, especially when dealing with her youngest of characters.
Roy is sensitive to the distorted world that children must plow through, hoping to find their way. She remembers how difficult language was to understand and yet at the same time how powerful words could be for children.
Even when words are not fully comprehended, or at least not identified with proper dictionary meanings, they are felt. Words for children have more than sound; they have lives of their own.
And the tone of them can be frightening. Roy knows that sometimes words that children hear are creepy, furry insects. Other times they are slimy wells that threaten to swallow all who hear them.
One more way that Roy adorns her story is through the use of poetic images which are as colorful as the tropical paintings of Paul Gauguin. The author obviously does not paint with oils to do so but rather with vibrant words, such as when she is describing the first raindrops of the monsoon season when she writes: Then there is the overall image of hard raindrops falling on the dry earth.
The rain is so hard and the earth is so dry that when the water first hits the dirt, dust flies up into the air as if the earth is being shot at. This sentence is poetically powerful on many different levels. But besides creating an image, it also provides a psychological reference. Rahel has just returned in Ayemenem as the narrator describes this scene. Change is in the air as the edge of the monsoon season pushes the dry weather away. But there is also a sense of danger presented here.
The author uses the word gunfire in her metaphor, as if a warning is being given. The timeframe of this novel is contorted, moving from the present to the past and back again, over and over again. So when the above sentence appears in the story, the damage to Rahel has already happened; but the reader is still in the dark because the story has just begun.
It is as if the author is alerting the reader that this is not going to be an easy, entertaining story. There is another passage that serves a dual purpose.
It appears on the first page of the novel. The narrator is describing the landscape as the monsoon season begins. Whereas fences normally standout as rigid boundaries, in this instance the boundary itself becomes part of the garden. Besides creating a poetic image, Roy foreshadows a theme that will prevail throughout the story, one in which boundaries between sex, race, social status, and rational and irrational reality will cease to exist. As a matter of fact, the whole first chapter provides a foreshadowing of the rest of the novel.
Roy either cleverly hints at events that will come, or else she completely throws her readers into very specific events but only gives readers quick, short glimpses, teasing them forward. As though he was choosing mangoes from a basket. First there is the superior stance of the inspector. There is also the sexual overtone. And why is he intimidating her? Then shortly after this encounter, Ammu says: Roy is fully aware of keeping her readers in the dark, but she does not worry about the confusion.
The author does not rush to fill in all the gaps. This is because she is a profoundly confident and creative writer. Roy tells her story the way she wants to relate it. Laura Carter Carter is currently employed as a freelance writer. It is a desolation foreshadowing what lies, even eats away at, the core of the novel—when a people, in this case, the people of India, lose their sense of history, the results are devastating to all.
In the opening chapter of her work, Roy introduces the reader to world of what was. Relationships are broken, gardens go asunder, homes lay waste, victims of abject filth fueled by apathy and neglect. The British influence of the Indian culture insidiously lurks at the heart of the novel. Baby Kochamma appears at the beginning of the novel to Rahel to be a caricature of her former self, defined by her dyed jet-black hair along with its by-product, a pale gray stain imprinted on her forehead.
But the reader soon learns that circumstances were once different. The narrative recalls a past featuring a different Baby Kochamma, one who had previously spent her afternoons in a sari and gumboots, where she tended to an ornamental garden fantastic enough to attract attention from neighboring towns. But much has changed. She abandons her love for gardening for the sake of the WWF and other televised amusements.
The social malaise framing the events of the novel is aptly described by Chacko, an India-born, Oxford educated man who sees, yet cannot transcend, the hypocrisies of his westernized culture. With all the lamps lit. And ancestors whispering inside.
His fondness for his Oxford days culminates not only in his affinity for literature, but for the reverence he holds for both his American-born ex-wife and their daughter.
No one character seems to escape the tentacles of Western culture. Then there is Ammu, his daughter, mother of Rahel and Estha, who returns home after surviving a violent attack from her drunken husband. As a result of this influence, Ammu is osterisized by her own people, as are her innocent children, predicated or based on a sort of high-flying, false perception of English decorum as having transcended Indian culture.
Breaking Bounds in Arundhati Roy’s "The God of Small Things"
Velutha is in a similar, if not worse position in modern Indian society. Or worse, not being allowed to leave footprints at all. Because of this imposed status and its perceived impact on the Kochamma family, i. In the end, authorities misuse this information to their advantage to subdue the Indian community.
It functions as a leveling force for all concerned. It is the pivotal point at which familial bonds are permanently severed. Her life is symbolic and central to the novel. She epitomizes all that is British, described upon her arrival: Ironically, despite these familial ties, she has little or no connection with India.
She has instead been raised in England by her American-born mother, well-removed from the influences of the India people. Her cousins, Estha and Rahel, stand in her shadow. And when Sophie Mol tragically dies, the event tears apart core relationships in the Kochamma household.
The family puts all of their energy into Sophie Mol, and her death, even though their history with the child suggests she is more or less a stranger, admired more for her golden hair, western mannerisms and dress.
Instead of accepting responsibility for their part in the accident, tragically, both Chacko and Baby Kochamma blame Rahel and Estha, and begin to treat them as outcasts. Driven by their need to escape from a hostile family life, the twins look to History House as a way to escape the constraints of their own world. His death is also a function of the social climate in the area.
Velutha is used as an example by the authorities of those who remain out of step with the new regime or the British way of life. All of the events in the story are a by-product of Western influence in what has become, more or less, a British colony. Tepid river waters bloated with dead finish mirror the encroachment of the industrial machine, as does the hypnotic quality of the satellite dish holding the Kochamma house hostage.
Throughout the novel, the twins are encouraged to speak English rather than their native language, to covet whiteness instead of their Indian heritage, yet they cannot transcend who they are and fail miserably. Like dominoes, these circumstances and others stack up, then collapse, setting into motion a tragic chain of events that cannot be controlled. What she does do so aptly, is to weave a subtle tale of circumstances that collectively, permanently shape and form the lives of her characters, leaving an indelible mark that no doubt will be transferred, one generation to the next.
That a few dozen hours, like the salvaged remains of a burned house—the charred clock, the singed photograph, the scorched furniture—must be resurrected from the ruins and examined.
Douglas Dupler Dupler is a writer and has taught college English courses. In this essay, Dupler explores the relationship between individuals and the cultural forces acting upon them within the novel. There is a caste system and a class system that exert much force upon the characters. Indeed, the greatest conflict in the story, a love affair between Ammu and Velutha, is the result of individuals rebelling against the historical and cultural structures of caste and class; this is an affair between a Touchable and an Untouchable.
They all tampered with the laws that lay down who should be loved and how. The novel ranges in scope from the epic to the minute. The narrative gives lush detail of the everyday life in India, and contains colors, textures, and many characters. At the same time, the narrative also shifts to expose the larger forces that drive the characters. For instance, the narrative gives broad details about the trajectory of the lives of some of the characters, including Rahel, Ammu, Chacko, Margaret, and others.
The novel also gives details about some of the political movements of the days, as when it describes the workings of Communism within the state of Kerala. The narrative shows in several instances how casual comments and decisions can have deep repercussions, showing the power of choice that individuals have within their social lives.
This off-hand remark is instrumental in making Rahel run away from the family, an event that also brings about the death of Sophie Mol and then Velutha.