The God of Small Things: Sex, Politics, and Identity of Subversion | Komalesha H S - omarcafini.info
characters face persons, institutions and relationship of a decayed and or Rahel and Esthappan in The God of Small Things () or rather Cyrus in The. His relations with Ammu (the heroine of the novel if it has one) and the (her brother's daughter) Ammu took her twins Esthappan and Rahel to Kottayam police. Two of the protagonists in The God of Small Things, written by Arundhati Roy, are Rahel and Estha. Rahel has an incredible imagination in several ways. During.
Velutha dies of his injuries overnight. After Sophie's funeral, Ammu goes to the police to tell the truth about her relationship with Velutha. Afraid of being exposed, Baby Kochamma convinces Chacko that Ammu and the twins were responsible for his daughter's death.
Chacko kicks Ammu out of the house and forces her to send Estha to live with his father. Estha never sees Ammu again. She dies alone a few years later at the age of After a turbulent childhood and adolescence in India, Rahel gets married and goes to America. There, she divorces before returning to Ayemenem after years of working dead-end jobs.
Estha, Rahel to keep off the big screen
Rahel and Estha, now 31, are reunited for the first time since they were children. They had been haunted by their guilt and their grief-ridden pasts. It becomes apparent that neither twin ever found another person who understood them in the way they understand each other. Toward the end of the novel, the twins have sex. The novel comes to a close with a nostalgic recounting of Ammu and Velutha's love affair. He is a serious, intelligent, and somewhat nervous child who wears "beige and pointy shoes" and has an "Elvis puff.
The narrator emphasizes that Estha's "Two Thoughts" in the pickle factory, stemming from this experience—that "Anything can happen to Anyone" and that "It's best to be prepared"—are critical in leading to his cousin's death. Estha is the twin chosen by Baby Kochamma, because he is more "practical" and "responsible," to go into Velutha's cell at the end of the book and condemn him as his and Rahel's abductor. This trauma, in addition to the trauma of being shipped or "Returned" to Calcutta to live with his father, contributes to Estha's becoming mute at some point in his childhood.
He never goes to college and acquires a number of habits, such as wandering on very long walks and obsessively cleaning his clothes. He is so close to his sister that the narrator describes them as one person, despite having been separated for most of their lives. He is repeatedly referred to as "Silent. As a girl of seven, her hair sits "on top of her head like a fountain" in a "Love-in-Tokyo" band, and she often wears red-tinted plastic sunglasses with yellow rims.
An intelligent and straightforward person who has never felt socially comfortable, she is impulsive and wild, and it is implied that everyone but Velutha treats her as somehow lesser than her brother. In later life, she becomes something of a drifter; several times, the narrator refers to her "Emptiness.Part 2 of the Final Drama: Mary Rachel's Funeral
Ammu Ammu is Rahel's and Estha's mother. She married their father referred to as Baba only to get away from her family. He was an alcoholic, and she divorced him when he started to be violent toward her and her children. She went back to Ayemenem, where people avoided her on the days when the radio played "her music" and she got a wild look in her eyes.
When the twins are seven, she has an affair with Velutha. This relationship is one of the cataclysmic events in the novel. She is a strict mother, and her children worry about losing her love. Velutha Velutha is a Paravan, an Untouchablewho is exceptionally smart and works as a carpenter at the Ipe family's pickle factory.
His name means white in Malayalambecause he is so dark. He returns to Ayemenem to help his father, Vellya Paapen, take care of his brother, who was paralyzed in an accident.
He is an active member of the Marxist movement. Velutha is extremely kind to the twins, and has an affair with Ammu for which he is brutally punished. Chacko Chacko is Estha's and Rahel's maternal uncle.
He is four years elder to Ammu. They have a daughter, Sophie, whose death in Ayemenem is central to the story. Baby Kochamma Baby Kochamma is the twins' maternal great aunt. She is of petite build as a young woman but becomes enormously overweight, with "a mole on her neck," by the time of Sophie's death. She maintains an attitude of superiority because of her education as a garden designer in the United States and her burning, unrequited love for an Irish Catholic priest, her relationship with whom is the only meaningful event in her life.
Her own emptiness and failure spark bitter spite for her sister's children, further driven by her prudish code of conventional values. Her spite ultimately condemns the twins, the lovers, and herself to a lifetime of misery.
Themes[ edit ] Indian history and politics[ edit ] Indian history and politics shape the plot and meaning of The God of Small Things in a variety of ways.
Some of Roy's commentary is on the surface, with jokes and snippets of wisdom about political realities in India. However, the novel also examines the historical roots of these realities and develops profound insights into the ways in which human desperation and desire emerge from the confines of a firmly entrenched caste society.
During the time in India, class was a major issue and still is in many parts of India.
A Brief Analysis of the Relation between Estha and Rahel « linguarydberg
Class relations and cultural tensions[ edit ] In addition to her commentary on Indian history and politics, Roy evaluates the Indian post-colonial complex, or the cultural attitudes of many Indians toward their former British rulers. After Ammu calls her father a "[shit]-wiper" in Hindi for his blind devotion to the British, Chacko explains to the twins that they come from a family of Anglophiles, or lovers of British culture, "trapped outside their own history and unable to retrace their steps.
A related inferiority complex is evident in the interactions between Untouchables and Touchables in Ayemenem. Vellya Paapen is an example of an Untouchable so grateful to the Touchable class that he is willing to kill his son, Velutha, when he discovers that Velutha has broken the most important rule of class segregation—that there be no inter-caste sexual relations.
In part, this reflects how many Untouchables have internalized caste segregation. Nearly all of the relationships in the novel are somehow colored by cultural and class tension, including the twins' relationship with Sophie, Chacko's relationship with Margaret, Pappachi's relationship with his family, and Ammu's relationship with Velutha.
Characters such as Baby Kochamma and Pappachi are the most rigid and vicious in their attempts to uphold that social code, while Ammu and Velutha are the most unconventional and daring in unraveling it.
Roy implies that this is why they are punished so severely for their transgression. Forbidden love[ edit ] One interpretation of Roy's theme of forbidden love is that love is such a powerful and uncontrollable force that it cannot be contained by any conventional social code.
Another is that conventional society somehow seeks to destroy real love, which is why love in the novel is consistently connected to loss, death, and sadness. Also, because all romantic love in the novel relates closely to politics and history, it is possible that Roy is stressing the connection of personal desire to larger themes of history and social circumstances. Love would therefore be an emotion that can be explained only in terms of two peoples' cultural backgrounds and political identities.
Social discrimination[ edit ] The story is set in the caste society of India, at a time when members of the Untouchable Paravan or Paryan caste were not permitted to touch members of higher castes or enter their houses. The Untouchables were considered polluted beings. They had the lowliest jobs and lived in subhuman conditions. In India, the caste system was considered a way to organize society. Roy's book shows how terribly cruel such a system can be.
Along with the caste system, readers see an economic class struggle. The Ipes are considered upper class. They are factory owners, the dominating class. Mammachi and Baby Kochamma would not deign to mix with those of a lower class. However, Roy shows other types of less evident discrimination. For example, there is religious discrimination.
It is unacceptable for a Syrian Christian to marry a Hindu and vice versa, and Hindus can only marry a Hindu from the same caste. In more than one passage of the book, the reader feels Rahel's and Estha's discomfort at being half Hindu.
Baby Kochamma constantly makes disparaging comments about Hindus. On the other hand, there is discomfort even between Christian denominations as is shown by Pappachi's negative reaction when Baby Kochamma converts to Catholicism.
Chacko suffers more veiled racial discrimination, as it seems his daughter also does. His English wife's parents were shocked and disapproving that their daughter would marry an Indian, no matter how well educated. Sophie, at one point, mentions to her cousins that they are all "wog," while she is "half-wog. Discrimination is a way of protecting their privileged position in society.
Betrayal[ edit ] Betrayal is a constant element in this story. Love, ideals, and confidence are all forsaken, consciously and unconsciously, innocently and maliciously, and these deceptions affect all of the characters deeply. Baby Kochamma is capable of lying and double-crossing anyone whom she sees as a threat to her social standing. This is a consequence of her loss of respectability after becoming a Roman Catholic nun to be close to Father Mulligan, despite her father's disapproval.
Her fear is reminiscent of that of Comrade Pillai, who betrays both Velutha and Chacko to further his own interests and that of his political party. The greatest tragedy is that of Velutha, the only truly non-corrupt adult in the story, who becomes the repeated victim of everyone's deception—from Comrade Pillai's to Baby Kochamma's, to his own father's and, most heartbreakingly, that of Estha, who at seven years old is manipulated into accusing Velutha of crimes that he did not commit. Because of this chasm, the love between Ammu and Velutha fails, and with that their identity also fails to bloom and burgeon in the direction it wants to.
This failure of giving a stable identity to Ammu and Velutha, thus becomes a result of the power-alliance between Marxism, Christianity and also the socio- religious structures that pre-exist both Marxism and Christianity.
Unfortunately, even History — another major identity marker — is at loggerheads with the identity of the people in the novel. When the novel unfolds, we come to know that the whole Family of Papachi Ipe Family is situated in a tricky position from where escape is neither convenient nor possible. They were a family of Anglophiles: This rootless condition of Ipe family reflects in the manner of a synecdoche, the condition of all Indians, loss of their memory, self, and identity.
Because of certain historical compulsions we have lost our footsteps, we are unable to retrace them. Therefore, we are not what we are, even our dreams have been doctored and we belong nowhere. Footprints symbolize in the novel the historical past of India; the loss of historical consciousness.
And it is bounded duty of the Indian English writer to retrace and restore this forgotten self of history. As Rushdie writes in his Imaginary Homelands, fiction is a creative alternative to the official history that tries to fill the gaps in the canonical pages of history books.
He explained to them that history was like an old house at night. With all the lamps lit. And the ancestors whispering inside. And look at the books and the pictures on the wall. And when we try and listen, all we hear is a whispering. And we cannot understand the whispering because our minds have been invaded by a war. A war that captures them and re-dreams them. A war that has made us adore our conquerors and despise ourselves p. The story of Ipe family is an allegory that runs parallel to the story of post-Independence India, and the diasporic condition of the family is extended to the history of the nation.
The intricate link between the personal and the national is very much evident in the novel when Roy writes: Like Tagore in The Home and the World, Roy also explores the public space through the domestic space. The latter becomes the extension of the former. As Bhabha points out: In that displacement, the borders between home and the world become confused; and, uncannily the private and the public become part of each other, forcing upon us a vision that is as divided as it is disorienting.
Thus The God of Small Things signals a movement away from the fixed locus of nation. Thus, we discover that in the postnationalist phase, nation is as much devoured by the local as by the global.
They raise their voice against the nation because they feel that such a bigger identity threatens their regional identity. In this context Gayatri Spivak 5 remarks that subalterns feel that nation is an oppressive and hegemonic structure willfully imposed on them.
Therefore, they decide to overtake this central structure resulting in its collapse. It is a welcome step because it signifies the liberation of the margin from the tyranny of the centre.
Devy goes to extent of questioning the very idea of nation called India, in his critically acclaimed work, After Amnesia: The term India may be valid in the pages of an atlas, but as a cultural label it is hopelessly inadequate and simplistic. A product of colonial historiography, the term brings with it a politically 8 coloured self-image and the suggestion of cultural amnesia. Thus, these two movements — the global and the local create an intellectual urgency to move beyond the boundaries of nation and help us participate in the process of creating new sets of identity markers.
The entity called nation seems to lose its semiotic significance between the two discursive interstices called the global and the local. Incidentally, both the movements herald the death of nation in their unique way; in that sense both the movements are meaningful and desirable in leading the humanity with Universal vision. However paradoxical it may sound, we know for sure that the only route to global is to go to the roots of the local.
In this process of transgressing the divides of nation, what emerges is a hybrid entity, the hallmark of the postnational phase. In this passage, the novel is highly 6 suggestive of the importance of the local in the global market. Here, the local and the global are not seen as antithetical forces, instead, they create true cosmopolitan spaces that contain the elements of both the local and the global.
Such spaces develop an irreverence towards national politics and literatures of national liberation because these things are obsolete and undesirable in apolitical spaces such as Cosmopolitan centres. These spaces only recognize the differences in economic participation and business skills that determine the success of the participant, but not the differences in caste, creed and nationality.
Hence, these differences of caste, creed and nationality that constitute identity for some and also deny identity for others, are erased in the Cosmopolitan places. As a result of this, those sections and societies that are denied identity in such discourses welcome the neutral places of Cosmopolitan discourse because they find a hope in it to draft their new identity based on their ability of commercial acumen.
To earn a decent living, these people turn to tourism, enter the market and hawk the only thing they have: The stories that their bodies can tell. The commodification of globalization thus signals for these people a beacon light where they can bury their bitter past that had denied them their life. Whatever may be the consequences of Globalization, it creates a neutral space where everyone, depending on buying and selling powers, can participate without any divides of caste, religion, gender and nationality.
It is not that these people are not aware of the consequences of selling everything. They know that it is the end of living and the beginning of survival.
But they are left with no option. When their very existence is at stake and their identity under question, they cannot afford to think of these scruples. However, they cannot also escape from the qualms of these scruples. They invariably find a way out, a middle path that attempts to restore the balance, however feeble it is. For encashing their identities. This is the central paradox, the ethical dilemma of the postnationalist, cosmopolitan phase: This is also incidentally, the price that a society has to pay for moving out of the confines of the nation.
I Had Two Options: Penguin Books, p. First published in Subsequent references to this novel are incorporated within the text. The Diaspora Writes Back, Eds.