Book- The God of Small Things
Author- Arundhati Roy
Published by- India Ink in 1997
Genre- Domestic fiction
“When you hurt people, they begin to love you less. That’s what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.”
~Arundhati Roy (The God of Small Things)
The God of Small Things is the story of a regional family. The story commences when Rahel returns to her hometown Ayemenem to be reunited with her twin brother Estha after about 23 years.
The novel illustrates three generations of women. It can be named as the story of the sufferings of Baby Kochamma, Mammachi, Ammu, and Rahel. They all undergo in various ways. In our country like India, where the paternal system is very powerful, women do suffer mentally, physically, and sexually.
After returning to Ayemenem, Rahel finds her grand-aunt Baby Kochamma nevertheless alive but Ammu is no more. She had died at the age of 31. Baby Kochamma was in love with a Roman Catholic, Father Mulligan in her young days. Their idealistic relationship did not turn into a marriage.
Maybe the unfulfilled love of Baby Kochamma made her cruel in her treatment of Ammu. In the novel, Ammu is an awful victim of a male dominating society. As the education of women was considered unnecessary at that time, Ammu could not continue her studies.
At Ayemenem, she lived the life of a jailbird and she became desperate. She always dreamt of breaking out from the grips of her ill-humoured father and mother. She met a young man in Calcutta – who proposed to her, five days after they had met. She accepted the proposal partially to escape from Ayemenem. Her husband turned out to be a drunkard who beat her frequently and acted as a panderer for his boss Mr Hollick, the English manager of the tea estate.
Mr Hollick had suggested that he should go on leave and Ammu be sent to his bungalow to be looked after. She refused for it and her refusal brought more physical torture. Her husband attacked her, grabbed her hair, punched her.
Ammu also did hit back, when her husband began to beat the twins (Rahel and Estha). She decided to part her ways from her abusing husband, she returned to Ayemenem as a divorced woman, but there was no place for a divorcee in her father’s home.
She soon realized that life had nothing for her. Her courageous spirit made her more and more unhappy. she became ‘Untouchable’ in her own home. Even Baby Kochamma speculated that a married daughter has no position in her parents’ home.
Baby Kochamma has already accepted her destiny of manless life apathetically but she did not realize any kindness for Ammu.
Baby Kochamma disliked Ammu and probably she took cruel pleasure in her sufferings. Ammu did not surrender to her fate she fought with it. In her divorced state, she proclaimed her love for Velutha – an untouchable carpenter. Ammu violated ‘the love laws’ and that could not be tolerated in those days.
Kochamma dismissed Velutha from the factory and detained him.
He was accused of the rape of Ammu. When Ammu reached the police station with her children, Rahel and Estha, the police officer’s behaviour were very fierce. Ammu felt utterly embarrassed. She whispered to herself, “He’s dead. I’ve killed him”. She knew that she would be held accountable for the death of her lover Velutha – an untouchable paravan.
Rahel does not suffer as much as Ammu did. She has the most courageous spirit that makes her resort to incest which is a taboo almost all over the world. Rahel spent her eight years in a college of architecture in Delhi without completing the five-year degree course. She married to her senior at the college and went with her husband to Boston.
She worked there as a waitress in an Indian restaurant and later got divorced from her husband. Rahel’s suffering is more psychological than physical. She failed to receive love and admiration from her parents. When Ammu died, she was only eleven, her wounded mind made her a courageous person throughout her life.
Rahel’s married life didn’t give her happiness when she made love, her husband was embarrassed by her eyes. As a result, the marriage broke and they decided to get divorced.
Rahel and Estha are united for the first time since they were children. Towards the end of the novel, the twins have sex.
Arundhati Roy is an Indian author. The God of Small Things is her very first novel. The novel is semi-autobiographical and it covers a major part of her childhood experiences. The God of Small Things won many awards but it was criticized in India because of the unrestrained description of sexuality.
This story is loved worldwide. It is the story of twins who experience worst love life due to love laws that lay down “who should be loved and how much”.