Emma Glynn Professor Brzoska Core 161 A 8 December 2017 The God of Small Things “The God of Small Things” is a very interesting novel that is based around a family and their relationships. Throughout this novel the majority of the main characters stem from the Ipe family. The role that each family member has or does not have on some characters helps the reader understand the importance or lack of importance of family. Some family members have a large positive influence on others, while other family members leave negative marks on each other. “The God of Small Things” is a novel and the use of family, and the absence of some family members has helped shape the understanding for the novel. Estha & Rahel (twins, protagonists)Baby Kochamma (Great Aunt of E&R, antagonist) Pappachi (BK’s brother, Mammachi”s husband, had abusive relationship over jealousy) Sophie Mol (adored by most of the family because she was part British, drowned in the river). Chacko (fat & ugly, married Margaret a white woman, current owner of Pickles and Preserves). Velutha (Ammu’s secret love, the “untouchable”, beaten to death, blamed for SM’s death). Vellya (Velutha’s father & indebted to Mammachi). Comrade Pillai (makes labels for the factory). The story is primarily in Ayemenem, India. In 1969 the Indian National Congress split into two factions, one led by Moraji Desai, who represented the Indian independence movement, and Indira Ghandi, who was known for her political ruthlessness and centralization of power. Hindu-Muslim violence was also on the rise in 1969 with the Gujarat riots which was the deadliest Hindu-Muslim violence in India since 1947. In 1969, before Sophie Mol’s arrival, the family goes to see The Sound of Music. During the showing, Estha gets molested by the Orange drink Lemon Drink Man, which causes paranoia. Sophie Mol’s arrives and is adored by the majority of the family because of the anglophile ideal. Ammu has a romance with Velutha, an “untouchable”. To run away from the ODLD Man, Estha comes up with the idea to cross the river to hide at the History House and takes Rahel and Sophie Mol with him. While crossing the river, Sophie Mol drowns. At the History House, the Police find E & R and Velutha and beat Velutha terribly. Velutha dies, and the death of Sophie Mol is blamed on him. After the funeral Ammu, Estha and Rahel are separated. Estha and Rahel reunite in 1993 (Ammu’s dead) and have sex. The novel is written in non-chronological sequence with events switching from Rahel’s current day perspective in 1993 to Rahel’s childhood in 1969. The novel starts with readers knowing the character’s fates, but how their fates are met aren’t described until near the end of the tale. Much of the novel also serves to explain the background of characters that aren’t the protagonist. This creates a more full story from which much more can be gained than the same story told from a single character’s perspective. In The God of Small Things Pappachi’s moth symbolizes fear and disappointment. The meaning of Pappachi’s moth is established when it is first mentioned as what could’ve led Pappachi to fame, instead of the scientist whom he disliked, and came to be the reason for Pappachi’s poor treatment of Mammachi. Pappachi’s beating of Mammachi came out of jealousy that she was successful and fear that she may become more successful than him. It could also be said that the moth started all the problems present in the Ipe family during Rahel’s story; Mammachi’s beating was what subsequently caused he love for Chacko and disdain for Ammu, which also aided Ammu’s being tolerant of physical abuse and will to be divorced, as well as Chacko’s marrying of Margaret which in turn set up the situation existent in the novel; Ammu being in love with Velutha, the children being fatherless, and Sophie Mol’s existence. However the moth does not only start this chain of events, it makes itself known throughout them. Rahel mentions feeling the moth on her heart several times throughout the novel, the first of which being when Ammu told her that careless words make people love each other less. After hearing Rahel states she feels the moth on her heart, as she is scared that Ammu loves her less. During the course of the novel is situations that would cause Rahel fear, especially Sophie Mol’s death, words like “fear” and “terror” are not used to describe Rahel’s condition, but rather the moth and its grip on her heart are discussed. Throughout the novel Baby Kochamma’s garden comes to symbolize the unity of the Ipe family. Baby Kochamma is in essence the family’s matriarch at the time of Rahel’s story and thus her family and their unity are watched over and attended to by her, much in the way her own garden is. Baby Kochamma is extremely prejudiced and unrelentless in the care of her ornamental garden for the majority of the novel, much in the way she is with her family. She dislikes Ammu for being divorced and raising her children alone, which is an abnormality in an esteemed family, and fights to save her reputation and that of her family after the police believe Velutha may be innocent. She dislikes anything that may taint her family or make it less beautiful, despite how those involved may feel, just as if she was caring after a prized garden that held no emotion. During Rahel’s tale the garden is thriving and beautiful, just as the Ipe family is close knit and very much connected, as most members live in the same house. However, upon Rahel’s return to the Ayemenem house the family’s distance and lack of unity are reflected in the garden. With Rahel and Estha leaving, and later Chacko as well, along with Ammu’s death, the Ayemenem house holds only a fraction of the family it once did. Rahel describes the once beautiful garden as “knotted and wild” (27). As the family fell apart and Baby Kochamma diverted her attention to television rather than her garden, the garden fell apart and became overgrown, much in the way the Ipe family’s bond has tarnished. This is from the jungle book in the past on her way to see the Sound of Music along with Ammu, Baby Kochamma, and Estha, after reading a series of road signs Rahel (as a narrator) brings up her brother’s and her own reading habits, which included Ammu reading The Jungle Book to them. “The twins were precocious with their reading. They had raced through Old Dog Tom, Janet and John, and their Ronald Ridout Workbooks. At night Ammu read to them from Kipling’s Jungle Book. “Now Chil the Kite brings home the night That Mang the Bat sets free–” (57). The significance of The Jungle Book is brought up because it revolves around an outsider (a human) being involved in a society comprised of jungle animals. Quotes from the book regarding the character Shere Khan wanting to kill the man cub, and the character Raksha’s response being that he will take in the man cub are noted. These quotes are important as they emphasize and foreshadow the willingness of characters in the novel to allow deviations from social norms into their lives. Most of the main characters in the novel allow deviations from the social norm into their lives such as Rahel and Estha sleeping together, Chacko’s marrying a white woman, and Ammu’s relations with Velutha, being likely the main emphasis of the allusion. Ammu brings Velutha into her life despite society wanting him to play his role as an untouchable, similar to how Shere Khan wants to kill the man cub, but Raksha taking him in anyways. This is from Julius Caesar in the Plymouth, after recounting things that Vellya Paapen told her were holes in the universe, accompanied by a shining ray of sun, Rahel recounts recounts learning of Roman soldiers and Ammu telling her the story of Julius Caesar. Ammu uses this story to tell Rahel that she cannot trust anyone. “Ammu had told them the story of Julius Caesar and how he was stabbed by Brutus, his best friend, in the Senate. And how he fell to the floor with knives in his back and said, ‘Et tu, Brute? –then fall, Caesar.” (79) The significance of bringing up Julius Caesar’s story in the novel is important as it foreshadows Velthua’s eventual demise as a result of the betrayal at the hands of his friends; those being his own father Vellya Paapen and the twins. Vellya Paapen created a downfall for Velutha similar to Caesar’s as turning him to to Baby Kochamma resulted in his merciless beating by the police, leaving him confused as he had committed no crimes, similarly to how Caesar was killed by members of the Senate.The twins later sealed his fate by allowing him to die a guilty man by lying to the police. Baby Kochamma herself can be seen as a Brutus figure as well, despite the fact that she may not have been friends with Velutha. Baby Kochamma betrayed Ammu and the twins in turning Velutha in. The reason for this sudden, unceremonious dumping was a new love. Baby Kochamma had installed a dish antenna on the roof of the Ayemenem house. She presided over the world in her drawing room on satellite TV. The impossible excitement that this engendered in Baby Kochamma wasn’t hard to understand. It wasn’t something that happened gradually. It happened overnight. Blondes, wars, famines, football, sex, music, coups d’etat-they all arrived on the same train. They unpacked together. They stayed at the same hotel. And in Ayemenem, where once the loudest sound had been a musical bus horn, now whole wars, famines, picturesque massacres and Bill Clinton could be summoned up like servants. And so, while her ornamental garden wilted and died, Baby Kochamma followed American NBA league games, one-day cricket and all the Grand Slam tennis tournaments” (27-28). Roy’s description of Baby Kochamma being absorbed by television serves to illustrate the corruption due to and evil of modernization and Western culture. If the garden of Rahel’s childhood and the Ayemenem house at the time are to be taken as symbols of a strong and connected family, the presence of television is what creates a decay of these. The words “sudden” and “dumping” when describing Baby Kochamma’s loss of interest in the caring of her garden illustrate the completeness of the loss of a family connection due to the television symbolizing modernization. Roy saying the television was Baby Kochamma’s “new love” implies the television is her only concern, as it has completely replaced family. Irony is employed to enforce this notion as it is stated Baby “presided over the world” with her TV, implying her grasp became greater, however in actuality she did much less and abandoned family connection for this power. The juxtaposition in sentence length between the sentences “It wasn’t something that happened gradually,” and “It happened overnight,” help emphasize the quickness of this change and brings attention to its grip. Throughout the passage juxtaposition is employed to highlight the stark contrast in Baby’s values and thus the values of the family in the past and the present. Roy also highlights the more negative programs on television, citing “wars, famines, picturesque massacres,” emphasizing the negative connotation she places on modernization. Roy noting Bill Clinton also implies this dislike is aimed specifically at American culture.” It wasn’t what lay at the end of her road that frightened Ammu as much as the nature of the road itself. No milestones marked its progress. No trees grew along it. No dappled shadows shaded it. No mists rolled over it. No birds circled it. No twists, no turns or hairpin bends obscured even momentarily her clear view of the end. This filled Ammu with an awful dread, because she was not the kind of woman who wanted her future told. She dreaded it too much. So if she were granted one small wish, perhaps it would only have been Not to Know. Not to know what each day held in store for her. Not to know where she might be, next month, next year. Ten years on. Not to know which way her road might turn and what lay beyond the bend. And Ammu knew. Or thought she knew, which was really just as bad (because if in a dream you’ve eaten fish, it means you’ve eaten fish). And what Ammu knew (or thought she knew) smelled of vapid, vinegary fumes that rose from the cement vats of Paradise Pickles. Fumes that wrinkled youth and pickled futures. Hooded in her own hair, Ammu leaned against herself in the bathroom mirror and tried to weep. “For herself. For the God of Small things. For the sugar-dusted twin midwives of her dreams.” (224) In this passage Roy employs syntax in order to characterize Ammu and reveal the character’s fears. In the passage Ammu’s main fear is not of death itself, but rather that her life will contain nothing meaningful. This is apparent through the quote “It wasn’t what lay at the end of her road that frightened Ammu as much as the nature of the road itself.” With the road symbolizing life itself it is clear that Ammu is aware of her end, but fears what comes before it. This idea creates a somber, reflective tone that is carried out through the rest of the passage in an almost sympathetic manner, implying Roy understands this struggle that Ammu faces is often shared by her readers. The next 6 sentences in the passage serve the purpose of explaining that Ammu’s view and knowing of her end is perpetually clear. The first 5 of these sentences are short and all start with the word “no” to illustrate the complete and total lack of relief she has from knowing her own end. Each of the things that she lacks on her path; milestones, trees, shadows, mists, and birds, all serve to symbolize events that could potentially make Ammu forget about what lies at the end of her path. The sixth sentence in this string is longer than those preceding it, in essence summarizing the idea that to Ammu, nothing of significance lies in the path she must travel. Later on the idea of “Not to Know” is capitalized as if it were a proper noun, emphasizing how important the concept is. The simple idea of not knowing itself could save Ammu from despair, yet it eludes her. The idea of knowing what lies ahead can be so powerful, as shown by Ammu’s despair because of it, Roy turns the idea of knowing, and by extension “Not to Know” into a big god, capable of control. The following sentences serve to illustrate how freedom not knowing can give, and thus the extent of knowing’s control. One of the most important lines in the passage is that which explains what the end Ammu is so aware of entails. Ammu is aware that tragedy awaits her family. This is apparent through saying the stench of what she knew came from Paradise Pickles. This implies both that the end of her path will affect her own family, and also that it stemmed from her own family as well. When describing this event’s scent, the words “vapid” and “vinegary” are used to imply that this event involves a loss of life, making its effects are far reaching, as scent travels through the air. Ammu’s family can be blamed not directly for her death, but the death of Velutha. Ammu’s path can also be interpreted as her relationship with Velutha, which she knows will only end poorly. Velutha’s death came from the Ipe family as Baby Kochamma turned him in, and Estha allowed him to die a guilty man. This interpretation also brings more meaning to the next sentence, “fumes that wrinkled youth and pickled futures”. This line is important regarding Velutha’s death as the event contributed to Rahel and Estha losing their innocence, wrinkling their youths, and also saved Baby Kochamma’s reputation, pickling and preserving her future. In the end, “The God of Small Things” was a very interesting novel that centered around family for a large part of the plot. The presence of some family members, such as Estha to Rahel, shaped the way that they acted together. While the absence of some family member drastically changed the way they would normally act. Overall, the presentation of family in this helped shape the understanding of the plot, characters, themes, and other literary elements. If people could try to handle their own responsibilities. This book can teach us just how important it is to not take a shortcut or blame others for the problems in our lives. We all have to take responsibility for our actions.