Posts tagged ‘India’

March 9, 2009

God of Small Things

by tasha

Tasha Rennie

Arundhati Roy’s first novel, The God of Small Thing, surprised the world with its unconventional style, controversial subjects and unforgettable emotion. It earned Roy a Booker Prize as well as obscenity charges in India. Her novel tells the story of two-egg twins, Rahel and Estha, growing up in India, and the events that passed that changed their entire lives. After a separation of 24 years, the twins are reunited in the house they grew up in where they attempt to understand and come to terms with the devastating events that shaped their lives. Moving between present day and 1969, the novel brings to life Kerala, India and the twin’s family through the eyes of seven-year-olds. With a divorced mother and half-Hindu heritage, the twins are constantly challenged by the conventions and restrictions of Indian society. However, small events and simple acts can bring about massive change, and the twins are soon faced with tragedy. The loss of life, the loss of love and the loss of innocence, plague their lives from that moment on.

The most notable thing about Roy’s first work is the style; however, beneath the surface Roy paints an extraordinary picture of the human condition through characterization and social commentary. Repetitive, descriptive and as whimsical as a nursery rhyme, Roy’s inventive language contrasts the playfulness of a child’s mind with the sadness of the events that pass to create a bittersweet depiction of the collapse of the family. Roy has the ability to delve in and out of minute detail flawlessly which enables her to highlight events that may appear to be insignificant at first and create an unpredictable and unconventional plotline. Roy’s rhyme and repetition also bring to life the numerous characters that play major roles in the story. With the imagination of a child, she plays with the English language as much as Rahel and Estha do throughout the novel. Roy’s characterization is complex, and it’s difficult to even identify one, sole, protagonist. However, the twin’s family and friends are brought to life through insight into their past, present, hopes and dreams. Both the most painful, and the most wonderful, aspects of human nature are illuminated as these characters struggle against each other and against the outside world. Within the family lies conflict between those who wish to break free of society’s constraints and those who feel the need to maintain the social order. The struggles permeates into the community, and unveils a powerful message about society and, “Man’s subliminal urge to destroy what he could neither subdue nor deify”(292). Roy succeeds in creating an unconventional novel that examines modern society, in terms of class system, cultural identity, family structure and the deeply-rooted, historical values that continue to govern people today.

March 9, 2009

Hope is left: The God of Small Things and how Roy can leave hope.

by benjamin73

Ben Turland

Indian author Arundhati Roy’s Booker Prize winning novel The God of Small Things has a plot layout similar to how an architect designs a house. This is not that surprising being that Roy was first studying as an Architect in New Delhi. The blueprints are laid for the whole story in the first chapter, while the detail coming after the main picture is show. This type of layout is not done often and is very unique to this story. This book is Roy’s first and only novel to date. The story follows seven year old fraternal twins, Estha and Rahel, and how their experiences and decisions affect and change their lives. One major theme in this novel is tragedy from accidental death and death because of love. Even though this novel is filled with all this tragedy, Roy somehow miraculously leaves you with hope.

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March 2, 2009

The God Of Small Things Discussion- The Ending

by tasha

The End of Small Things
Tasha Rennie

Upon finishing Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, I was quite struck by the way in which the novel was concluded. I was both surprised and satisfied, and I found that it was definitely an ending that invoked thought and reflection on several issues.
Firstly, the novel ends with the description of the love scene between Ammu and Velutha. This is an event which is hinted at and implied almost from the beginning. It is often stated as the cause for the tragic events that take place over the span of the ever-shifting timeline. Additionally, this scene alone has caused quite a bit of controversy due to the sexual relationship between people of different castes: a Touchable and an Untouchable. Roy, herself, was faced with obscenity charges in India due to the depiction.
Why do you think Roy chose to end the book with the scene that is both pivotal to the plot and explicitly stated from the beginning? Do you think there was any intended significance to its controversial nature?
The second to last chapter involves Estha and Rahel’s final parting at age seven and their subsequent act of incest 24 years later. This scene involves much less description or explanation; it is only stated that, “There is very little that anyone could say to clarify what happened next. Nothing that (in Mammachi’s book) would separate Sex from Love. Or Needs from Feelings”(310). There can be no coincidence in the proximity of the final chapters containing the two love scenes. There are many obvious connections that can be drawn between the two. Both encounters contain the breach of societal taboos by people who have been broken by the constraints of society themselves.
What other connections can be found between these two events?
Incest is a universal taboo among all societies, both past and present. However, throughout the novel it is explained that, since their separation, the twins, who thought of themselves as two halves of one whole, have both felt incomplete. The act of intimacy is implied as a sort of healing for both. What is the significance of this encounter for the development of both characters and the conclusion of the novel? Do you think it suffices?
In the final act that involves the twins we see that, “once again they broke the Love Laws. That lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much”(311). There are recurring references to the Love Laws throughout the story; they seem to play fundamental roles in the structure of this society and the story itself. They are the backbone of the history, the culture and the stratification of the society. Roy’s story really seems to explore what can happen as a result of breaking these laws. Do you think that this is one of the reasons Roy wrote this story? Or does she provide any justification for the breach in this propriety. Would it have been possible for these characters to not break these rules? What other examples are there of the Love Laws being broken?
Finally, I find that endings, in general, can make or break a novel. However, with this story I found that I was actually rather torn. Due to the unique format and style, I couldn’t decide whether the novel provided enough closure since we never really find out what happens to Rahel and Estha; or whether closure was really needed. However, endings and conclusions tend to be a matter of taste and opinion with readers. So, what did you think of the ending? Were you satisfied?