God of Small Things- Discussion

by benjamin73

An Inclass Discussion Converted to Blog

Melissa  Mcmaster and Ben Turland


So we (Melissa McMaster and Ben Turland) were supposed to talk about the novel The God of Small Things in class on March 2nd. But as we know that class was cancelled, also the class on Wednesday was cancelled. We were asked to make it to an online discussion. So if you are wondering why there now are five on-line dialogues you now know.

Whenever you look at poetry you will look for the deep meaning in a single line or a word. But often in prose we look for the overall theme, the plot, the main characters, and the narration tactics. All the mechanics of how a novel is written is an amazing thing. But often we talk “around” the novel. We never look deep into certain sections, chapters or lines. Prose can hold up the same as poetry when it comes to meaning. A chapter in a book how hold as much as a line in a poem and sometimes we overlook that. So what we were going to do in class but now we will do here is dive more deeply into certain aspects of the novel.

There is so much detail in this novel, some much detail in the small things. But why is their a lot of detail in certain events and not in other? What do you think Roy was doing when she attributed mote detail to certain situations?


1. Take the Pedophile scene with Estha on page 98, there is a huge amount of detail in this random section in the book. Why do you think there is so much description into this incident and does this event contribute to other events in the novel? Or does it show the starting point of how Estha thinks or acts?

2. On Page 310 there is an incest scene, which was brought up in class and I (Ben) did not even know what we were talking about. I had completely missed it, I remember reading it and not putting the connection together. Maybe I am just dense but it was very suddle. Again why do you think this scene is here? Why was this section so secretive while compared to the pedophile scene which was so descriptive?

3. One of the first things you read about in the opening chapter is about Sophie Mols death and you also learn that Estha has stopped talking. Throughout the whole book you are looking and waiting for the sections that has these two main circumstances in it. But when it comes to Sophie Mols death it is not very eventful. When Rahel and Estha are in the car on the way to the airport and are talking about their Aunts arm fat, Roy is more descriptive there then in the whole death scene. What do you think about the death section? Did you find it eventful or boring and why? With Estha never talking it is strange because when he departs on the train and leaves for this Dad’s he is still talking. We were waiting for a huge scene to occur that makes Estha become so shocked that he can not talk anymore but that never comes. Do you think you know why Estha never talks? Why do you think Roy never says why Estha never speaks? Or did she?

Another Area: The Last Chapter.

We were also hoping to talk about the last chapter in class. The love scene of Ammu and Velutha. This was an interesting way to end a novel, because so much of the book is about tragedy. Almost every character in the novel has something horrible happen to them. The first chapter of the book starts off with Sophie Mols funeral. But the last chapter of the book ends with LOVE. Yes it is true Velutha does die because of this, but this chapter gives the reader something to grasp at. It gives the reader hope, with the last word being “Tomorrow” just going to show you that there is always another day. Even in life is full of tragedy there is always tomorrow. This last chapter makes you feel good, Ammu is happy and they have found each other and there is finally something good that happens to them.

Why did Roy start with death but then end with love?

Do you even think this last scene is one that gives hope or is of love?

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5 Comments to “God of Small Things- Discussion”

  1. In regards to question 2:

    I would argued that the incest scene was written in a subtle manner because the act for the characters involved was not considered taboo or disgusting. Rahel and Estha had only each other to love in the world and because of their past, had become numb to the love of others. The pedophile scene was more vivid because of the fear and shock associated with it. Also, it was a causing factor for Estha’s future mental instabilities. I think the incest scene is here because in a strange way it is a bittersweet happy ending for the brother and sister. Although unconventional (like the rest of their lives) I found it entirely understandable. I don’t think the incest scene was secretive, I think less detail made it more acceptable and less offensive to the reader. It was plain the incest had occured but Roy probably wished to make the moment one of love and (re)connecting of two people, not have the reader dismiss it as disgusting or bad, because it wasn’t for Estha and Rahel.

  2. I agree with Ashley in that Roy likely didnt want the reader to be turned away from the incest scene based on our own cultural norms. The incest scene is truly more like a masturbatory scene in that Rahel and Estha consider eachother one and the same, Rahel never loves anyone except for her brother and her mother. Even her own husband as is stated in the beginning of the book was a move made out of desperation, not passion.
    The final chapter in the novel I think simply set two humans together in a setting. It removed all conjecture, judgement, belief and tradition aside and simply put two people a man and a woman side by side in a setting. I felt it was a reminder of things that are possible if we put away all the thinking and talking and just act. With that said, I would not say that the book left me with a feeling of hope, personally I would say it left me with a feeling of hopelessness instead…the best part of the book can and will never actually be a reality, there will be no tomorow for it.

  3. I think that there are a few reasons that Roy chose to get into detail about some events and not focus on other areas where it would have been more expected. A great deal of the novel is written from the perspective of the children or from what they remember as adults. Sometimes there are particular events, or little details, that we remember forever even though they aren’t particularly large or significant. So I think that some of it has to do with the style. Also, we’ve seen that Roy chooses to defy convention in many aspects of her writing; so in the scenes, like Sophie Mol’s death, that are pivotal to the story and we expect detail, she surprises us by being abrupt.
    Additionally, I think that Roy is trying to show that some scenes that might not seem significant can, in fact, impact the outcome of the novel. For example, the one with the Orangedrink man was a very descriptive event even though no one ever found out and nothing ever came of it. However, it impacted Estha, and it was for this reason that he felt he needed to “be prepared” with the boat. The boat was the cause of Sophie Mol’s death

  4. I completely agree with your point in Question 3, about Roy making us wait and practically beg for the dramatic and powerful unravelling of events concerning Sophie Mol’s death. Although I personally enjoyed the novel, I can see how this curiosity (which is never fully satisfied) could possibly be the only motivation to keep reading, for those to whom Roy’s descriptive style is just plain exhausting. Does this mean that Roy tricks us into reading further? I think it depends on what each reader expects from the novel itself. We can basically divide this into two main camps, like with the Times/ Sulekha reviews discussed in class; those who value style and those who prefer a clearly defined and chronological plot. As stated by Tasha, Roy overlooks the scenes which we expect to be emphasized and gives incredible detail to events which could seemingly be satisfied with a sentence or two. You could say that by leaving the heavier scenes to the imagination, Roy actually makes them more pronounced since it is up to the reader’s imagination to fill in the blanks with details. On the other hand, what we expect from Roy in terms of emphasizing the deaths, incest, etc. and keeping the rest of the plot to complimentary details is largely unrealistic. Think about it…whenever something incredibly good/bad/ memorable happens in our own lives do we remember JUST a laundry list of events, or is it the thoughts, peculiarities and little details surrounding the event that distinguish it from any other ordinary day in our lives…So how can we expect anything less from Roy?

  5. I believe that not much detail was needed in the part of Sophie Mol’s death because the core of the novel is not about her death but about the facts that surround her passing. The character’s actions lead the events that occur in the novel and therefore the death of Sophie Mol, not viceversa. That is why Roy gives more importance to the other actions in the novel with so much detail. The death is just the point in time where all the issues that the characters’ had been building up collapsed.
    Regarding to Estha’s introversion, Roy gave us an elaborated explanation of it. She had to use more than 200 pages to show us how dramatic events during Estha’s childhood (an ill family, a man abusing him, the violence towards Velutha, and death of Sophie Mol) impacted him psychologically in a way that his personality and ability to communicate were affected as he grew up.

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