Small Things Were Never Small

by hannalijoyce

Hannali Joyce Popoca Fehr

9 Mar 2009

A Unique Language Reveals the Secrets Behind Roy’s Small Things


The lives of two-egg twins, Estha who is loved and Rahel who is loved a little less, are shaped by small things that happen during their childhood in Kerala, India. Such things are unfortunate and dramatic. They surround the twins’ family and fall apart in the first pages of the novel: the accidental death of the twins’ half-English cousin, Sophie Mol (who was loved from the beginning), and the less accidental death of Velutha (a paravan of the untouchable cast loved by the twins and their mother Ammu). Tragedy revolves around those events prompting the separation of the soul-connected twins, and the passing of their divorced mother at the age of 31. Arundhati Roy’s story shows that “things can change in a day”. That in a Syrian-Christian family where grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles, aunts, mothers, sons and daughters are from a privileged cast, rules of love exist and they dictate “who should be loved, how, and how much”. What the reader will find monst attractive in Roy’s novel are not the lamentable and cruel events taht occur when the family breaks the rules and “crosses into forbidden territory”, but the way the plot unfolds travelling back and forth in time, the language that is used, and the way this language minimizes the discomfort that the themes of the novel deliver.                                                       

Roy’s language is a unique expressive creation: she produces her own terms by splitting, joining and capitalizing words in order to convey more powerful and deeper meanings to her expressions. Some of these capitalized phrases become mantras which direct the reader’s attention to the “small things” present in the story. By the time the love laws, Papachi’s moth, the boat that Estha sat on and Rahel found, lemondrinks and orangedrinks become more than just things in Roy’s novel, the reader finds himself immersed in the world of Estha and Rahel.                       

The God of Small Things is an engaging and captivating novel whose charm lies in the way that raw incidents are told, and the way Roy persuades you to keep reading 20 more chapters although she has revealed you the plot in the first one. The author’s ability to present dramatic events in a poetic fashion full of details and metaphors makes The God of Small Things an addictive reading. You would not want to put down the book until you have met the reasons behind Estha’s two thoughts: “Anything can Happen to Anyone” and “It’s Best to be Prepared”.


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