“I think perhaps that the question we should ask is, ‘What does it mean to be human?’” -Roy
This quote showed to us during Mondays class really brought together what I would like to discuss with you all. To me this novel seemed to be exactly how Roy describes, ‘what does it mean to be human?’ I think Roy is touching on the small things that humans usually overlook in life. These seemingly small things however add up to form a bigger part of our being. Everything we do or say in our lives has meaning, things as small as a smile to as big as a kiss impact those around us in a great way. Particularly Roy’s character Baby Kochamma stands out as a symbol of some of the innate flaws in the human character. On page 93 near the bottom reads “Baby Kochamma…would not admit to herself that she was looking forward to the picture. She preferred to feel that she was only doing it for the children’s sake. In her mind she kept an organized, careful account of Things She’d Done For People, and Things People Hadn’t Done For Her”. This character is the epitome of selfishness and she demonstrates many humans inability too look within themselves too see how their actions affect others. On page 78 we see another of the many examples of this, “In the days that followed, Baby Kochamma focused all her fury at her public humiliation on Velutha. She sharpened it like a pencil. In her mind he grew to represent the march, And the man who had forced her to wave the Marxist Party flag”. Baby Kochamma cannot stop, mirror herself and see that her actions are irrational, she’s taking her pain out on someone else without good reason and being a mindlessly selfish person. In the end this character manages to destroy or at least play a hand in the demise of many of her loved ones. Why is it that people frequently lack the ability to see their selfish actions? How can people like Baby Kochamma live in such ignorance? People form emotional reactions and patterns to situations without even recognizing it.
Perhaps if people like this took the time to stop and analyze the situation they would react differently. Is this linked perhaps to laziness? Are people too lazy to take the time to monitor their actions? Roy really tries to bring light to many interesting and sometimes problematic human characteristics. Did you notice any interesting universal characteristics in other characters in the novel, or anything other interesting things about Baby Kochamma? What do you think it means to be human? Or maybe you have had a situation where you’ve seen yourself taking the time to think about your thoughts and actions and how they effect the people around you. Did your analysis of the situation change the way you would normally react? Did you take the time to think about the consequences of your actions.
Another thing that I noticed was Roy’s notion towards the human characteristic to label things? In this novel we see peoples need to make things either one or the other, jam or jelly, Touchable or Untouchable. Things can no longer just Be, they have to fit in some place. Maybe this makes us feel safer and more comfortable in our world, when all things have a place and definition nothing is unknown or scary. What do you think?