Nothing Is Too Small To Be Overlooked

by meaganjbrown

Meagan Brown

The God of Small Things

Arundhati Roy’s “The God of Small Things” won the booker prize in 1997 and grabbed international attention for the taboo content of the colourful novel. The book challenges the way adults think and perceive the “small things”, “small” meaning the things or people that are otherwise overlooked. People oppressed by their caste, gender and age.

Roy moves swiftly in and out of the past and present lives of an Indian family of protagonists. Fraternal twins, Rahel and Estha, were separated during their childhood and are reunited in their hometown of Ayemenem as adults. Small events which are overshadowed by great tragedy, like the death of their cousin, are developed to help the reader understand how these events have shaped who they become. Their mother Ammu who has the “infinite tenderness of motherhood and reckless rage of a suicide bomber,” refutes conservative norms in her love affair with an “untouchable”, Velutha. In contrast, the twin’s grandaunt, Baby Kochamma imposes her faith and conservative beliefs on the naive twins. She is spiteful and accuses Velutha of raping Ammu when their love affair is discovered.

Roy exposes what is socially acceptable in Indian society through three generations of this family. No topic is too risky for Roy, as she discusses everything from the society’s acceptance of a disabled man, Estha’s muteness, the beating of the twin’s grandmother by their grandfather and incest. Roy’s informality and original language enables the reader to engage in the story of controversial topics like the act of incest between the twins and the restrictions implemented on the Indian society through the “Love Laws”. The imagery used plays to the reader’s advantage and is fuelled by ones stereotypes in articulating the minute details. In reading “police smile” the audience easily uses their established stereotypes to create the image of that man.

Despite the oppression Ammu, Velutha and Rahel face, they experience an unconventional freedom in denying the structures constricting “who should be loved, and how. And how much”.  Roy ends with the realistic tragic consequences of challenging these institutions. Although the consequence is death, the tone is of hope; hope for a better “tomorrow” for peoples from all walks of life.

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