A Mind for Design

by angelakm

With a mind built for design, there is no denying that Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things is indeed a carefully constructed masterpiece. Just as beautiful architecture can become a piece of art so does The God of Small Things. What may seem on the surface to be the tale of two unfortunate twins is the unraveling of the ‘small things’. Roy did not just have a story to tell but knew how best to engage the reader and focus on the ‘small things’ our adult, fast-paced minds of the 21st century may tend to overlook or take for granted. Roy’s focus on the ‘small things’ allows for questions over human nature to surface and be contemplated. Love, power, ignorance, deceit, order and boundaries are all brought to mind.

In presenting these themes Roy incorporates rather difficult situations into the novel. However, by providing vivid imagery and style, childhood abuse, forbidden love and extreme societal divisions (to mention a few) become easier for readers to comprehend. Roy also uses foreshadowing and narrative structure to convey these themes. Before we are a quarter of the way into the book we can predict what the future may hold for the characters. Though Roy only reveals enough so that the reader is still enticed to read on. “A viable-die-able-age” is one such playful foreshadowing repeated consistently throughout the story that seems to give death, a serious and sometimes haunting experience, a somewhat playful attitude.

The young twins are also vital to understanding the ‘small things’.  Roy allows the reader to see through their innocent, unbiased eyes and minds, the things that may have become invisible to our experienced, aged and tired eyes. Using the children’s perspective also forces every reader to relate in some way, as no one can deny once being a child.

Although we may get lost in the beautiful words flowing across the page conjuring clear images in our minds, we are discretely reminded that this is a post-colonial text. I believe Roy recognizes that people generally read for pleasure and would most likely not choose to pick up a book strictly addressing the effects of colonialism. Instead Roy provides both but is subtle in addressing colonialism. The children can be symbolic of this as Baby Kochama, who in her mind seems to know what is good, right and proper for all. She tries to use every possible chance she gets to force the children to speak English and in the end uses them selfishly to her advantage, perhaps reminiscent of the actions of some nations on others.

In a world where time is the essence, details are overlooked and sometimes we’d rather not face the facts, Roy’s careful design defies the odds in producing a thought-provoking masterpiece.


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