The reality of the matter is that gender discrimination has been a matter debated upon for too long with little action emanating from such debates. As a social phenomenon, gender discrimination has great sociological significance and concern. While this broadly reflects the discrimination of either gender, the discrimination against women and female children is particularly pervasive the world over. The novel The God of small things reminds the reader of this stark reality, and goes further to help one fathom the dynamics, intricacies and the inept results of the social vice.
Gender discrimination takes many forms and manifests in different ways. The author of the novel avails some of these ways for the reader’s understanding. For instance, Ammu, Rachel’s mother, is a victim of gender discrimination in the novel. She is denied the opportunity to get educated by her father, a privilege that her brother gets to enjoy. It is to be understood that Ammu was not educated because her father did not have the financial capability. In her father’s view, education is unnecessary for her. In the contemporary society, education is an unofficial basic right. It is no longer a privilege to be educated. The fact that gender discrimination was apparent in the society in India during the postcolonial period shows the institutionalization of gender discrimination.
Throughout the novel, the caste system features predominantly, whether apparently or in an implied manner. The caste system has been described differently by various scholars. However, by endearing to the overarching similarities in these different descriptions, Chandra describes the caste system as a social hierarchy with elaborate stratification, resulting in many groups based in the similarity of social ranks (Chandra 56). During the pre and colonial period, the caste system was a tool for class discrimination, where high end jobs were reserved for people in higher castes. However, women were still discriminated irrespective if how high they are in the caste system.
This is very apparent throughout the novel, through the experiences of different characters. All the characters in the novel are trapped in a rigidly and unbendingly predetermined social niche. However, the female characters evidently suffer double whammy. This is because in addition to their social classes determined through the caste system, they have a second handcuff inform of gender functions. The female characters in the novel are portrayed as smart, resourceful and capable of social change (Arundhati 24).
However, the rigid social structures deprive the female characters the opportunity to mature into agents of social change. Through this expose, the novel helps readers understand the realities of the world in which women live and how established social structures ground them and deny them of the opportunity to prosper. The tragedy of this matter is that even women who are high up in the social ranks owing to their affluent property owning families have no reprieve because they are still discriminated. Ammu is shunned by her church for her audacity, Mammachi; a successful entrepreneur with a pickle factory is physically abused by her husband while her son deteriorates her business. The author adduces that the husband is probably afraid of being out-succeeded by her wife who shows a lot of industry and has inherently talented.
The novel The God of small things is an open window into the realities of the discriminatory societies in which women live. India is a forward thinking country in its own right as evidenced by its economic growth. It is no doubt that women are integral pillars for this growth. However, the shackles of the caste system still ground women in this day. Many women have broken past this veil to show their worth in political and economic realms. However, the reality of the matter is that gender discrimination is still widespread. Women are not entirely liberated to explore their potential and mature into matriarchal beings. The progress is painstakingly slow because it is impeded by among other things men in the society and established social structures. Through this novel, the reader is able to delve into this reality, and hopefully be the change that women so much require.
Chandra, Ramesh. Identity and Genesis of Caste System in India. New Delhi: Kalpaz Publications, 2005. Print.
Arundhati, Roy. The God of Small Things. New Delhi: Penguin, 2002. Print.