The Simple Things That Aren’t So Simple

by jenniemacphee

Jennie MacPhee-Woodburn

Arundhati Roy’s first novel The God of Small Things is a beautifully and politically charged piece set in Kerala, India.  The story tells the account of two-egg twins Rahel and Estha which jumps back and forth between their childhood and reunion after being separated for twenty-five years.  Rahel is the predominant narrator who shares with the reader their childhood experiences with inter-caste love affairs, incest, pedophilia, and the “love laws”.

At the young age of seven, the twins’ lives are changed forever after the arrival of their English cousin Sophie Mol.  However, the beginning of the novel starts with the end of the story with Sophie Mol’s funeral, who tragically dies accidentally.  The novel takes off, presenting numerous and seemingly unimportant detail and events.  We quickly learn that Roy is intending to remind us that it is the small moments in life, as opposed to major moments, that ultimately change our lives and define who we are.

Roy’s richly expressive words focus on emphasizing the misuse of words, the power of one look and innocent curiosity.  As opposed to the more conventional writing style, there is significantly more emphasis on the small details that lead up to the climax, as opposed to the actual climax itself.  With the use of a seven year old child as narrator for most of the novel, readers are exposed to intense themes and mature events through the eyes of innocent interpretation.  Because of this style of writing and such focus on simplicity, readers may feel as if Roy is trying to make light of such catastrophic events.  But from the first chapter, we are clued into what is coming later on, although somewhat below the surface.  We are instead reminded that it is indeed the quickest, simplest moments in our lives that mould us as individuals.

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