Book Review on Arundhati Roy’s award-winning novel, God of Small Things
In the beginning, the family takes a drive to Cochin in order to pick Margaret Kochama and Sophie Mol from the airport and to watch The Sound of Magic. During the drive, we are able to learn about the political volatility in the area and how the Indian society is involved in the dictation of each person’s place in the society. Here, we are also able to know more about how the characters relate to each other and exactly how they interact with each other. The family drives in great anticipation of watching The Sound of Magic and of the arrival of Sophie Mol. At this juncture, we get the sense of something big that is or will happen in the near future.
Estha is filled with fear and guilt when she is molested by the Orangedrink Lemondrink man at the movie theatre. He suspects that he has done something wrong and that is why he feels guilty. He is also in a fix because he feels that he cannot explain or rather revealing this secret to anyone. Fear engulfs him because the man who molested him knows his residence and hence can show up anytime and repeat the act. Meanwhile, Ammu is insulted by Rahel in such a way that it forces Ammu to tell Rahel that hatred emanates from hurting the other people’s feelings. This makes Rahel terrified of the possibility that Ammu loves her less than before and this greatly affects her behavior henceforth throughout the story.
Rahel is sure that Ammu no longer loves her. Estha is still scared that the man who molested him in the theatre will come back for him. Both Rahel and Estha both Underwent bad experiences while at the movie theatre that make them get into extreme fear. Due to her insults to Ammu, Rahel is now sure that Ammu loves less of her. Estha is very fearful of the Orangedrink Lemondrink man especially because his residence is no longer a secret. Estha has two sound thoughts when they reach home after picking up Sophie Mol at the airport. He realizes that first, anything is bound to happen to anybody and secondly that he ought to be prepared at all times. He comes to a conclusion that a visit to the History House with a boat would be a great idea. Ammu blames the kids for being locked in her room which makes them think that they should leave.
Baby Kochamma requests to speak to Estha and Rahel when she goes to see Inspector Thomas. Rahel and Estha hide in the History house not realizing that Velutha is there with them and soon afterwards, the police come. They beat up Velutha so that a pool of blood is left on the floor and the children are left staring at the scene. The Inspector grills Baby Kochamma soon after she arrives at the station. The children declare the innocence of Velutha which reveals that Baby Kochamma has accused Velutha falsely. This spells trouble for baby Kochamma because it is clear that Velutha has suffered innocently. Baby Kochamma informs the children that Velutha will soon pass away but that she has hutched a plan that can save Ammu and themselves. She tells them to answer positively to the inspector’s questions for their mother to be freed. She threatens them that if they fail to do so, their mother will suffer and die while in custody. This moment generates a lot of suspense. Baby Kochamma adopts a wait and see approach for her plans to work while the children wonder whether they will be able to help Ammu.
Rahel and Ammu see Estha off at the train station. Soon after Velutha’s death after a police encounter and the death of Sophie Mol, Rahel and Ammu see off Estha so that she can go and start a new life by living with Baba. This happens to be the last time they see each other. Although the climax of the story is over, the emotional pain borne by these three characters when at the train station continue to persist long into the novel. They have to say goodbye to Estha and move back home in a painful moment. To demonstrate the emotions, Rahel screams loud and uncontrollably, Ammu tries very hard not to shed a tear and Estha leaves for good.
Rahel and Estha meet again after twenty three years when Baba decides to send Estha to Ayemenem. Rahel leaves the United States for Ayemenem when she receives the news that Esther is back. Even though Estha is still not able to speak, he and Rahel still understand each other. As adults, the two have to personally deal with all the sadness and grief they have suffered through the years when as kids and after separation into adulthood. It is unclear what the future has for them but hope that things will proceed well with the two of them.
The God of Small Things can be classified a novel that is filled with autobiographical traits. The author shares a lot of attributes with one of the charaters i.e Rahel. Both of them spent their early lives in the village somewhere in Ayemenem and they later on went to the city of Delhi to pursue higher education in Architecture. There is the existence of yet another parallel especially with regard to the parents. The mothers of both were members of the Christian faith and resided back in Ayemenem whereas their fathers were Hindu and used to work hard in the big plantations. The origin of Roy is reflected together with the use of Malayalam words to enrich the English language which she comfortably plays with.
Baby Kochamma is a master manipulator where she tries to manipulate the children regarding the issue with the inspector. When she is barely eighteen, she falls in love with Father Mulligan who is an Irish monk. She knows that Father Mulligan occasionally show up in the village and so she takes up children to bathe them and appear charitable in his eyes. They both argue severally about matters of religion only to spend time together later. When Father Mulligan goes back to his seminary, Baby Kochamma follows him back to the convent in the hopes of seeing him occasionally. Her father decides to send her to America because she is unable to find a husband due to her bad reputation. She spends the rest of her entire life engaging in a number of solitary activities such as watching television and gardening. She evidently loves Father Mulligan even after he becomes a Vaishnava instead of marrying her.
Concering Velutha, Baby Kochamma plays both an active and a passive role. After the discovery by the family about the unfortunate relation, Velutha is inclined to visit the family house. He is insulted by Mammachi who loses her temper. She wrongly accuses Velutha for attempted rape because she fears to lose her reputation in front of her family. She is also able to manipulate people such as Chacko to believe that Sophie Mol’s accident is due to Ammu and the children which prompts him to chase them from the family home. She always interferes with all the decisions which have a severe influence on the future of the family and these traits are what makes her as a character require a closer look.
The story and position of the Untouchables is closely dealt with. In the past, the caste system was responsible for the control and monitoring of every aspects of the Indian culture.
Arundhati Roy God of Small Things New Delhi; New York : Penguin, 2002, ©1997.