“That’s what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.”(Roy, 1997)
The following paper analyzes “The God of Small Things” in the context of the tragedy that caused by the lack of love. This novel is first published in 1997 and was a debut writing piece of Arundhati Roy. She is an Indian author, and through this novel, she depicts those experiences of childhood encounter by fraternal twins and their mother due to the laws and customs regarding the distribution of love. Moreover, it highlights the high impact of small things on the lives of people. Roy writes that “And the air was full of Thoughts and Things to Say. But at times like these, only the Small Things are ever stated. Big Things lurk unsaid inside.” (Roy, 1997) The novel elucidates that similar to great things; little things also have the power to impact the lives and may alter the entire course of life. The story takes place in the region of Ayemenem and revolves around the tragic incidents of a Syrian Christian family. It is depicted that the members of this clan suffer because of a substantial lack of love in their lives. Critiques say that this writing piece of Arundhati Roy analyzes the India through the epoch of post-sixties and enhances its social structure on the micro and macro level. (The week, 1997)
“The God of Small Things” similar to many other pieces of literature this novel also laden with multiple themes and meanings. It can be referred as a vast canvas that is painted marvelously with various shades taken by the palette of life. The diction of novel suggests the standpoint of two fraternal twins named Estha and Rahel, and through their lens, Arundhati explains the profoundness of many factors including religion, love, agony, life and ambition. Furthermore, Marxism and cast differences, as well as colonialism, are discussed throughout the plot. (Dirlik, 1997) The distances and lack of love between the characters are caused by the several complexities implied by the modern life patterns. Gradually these various reasons along with a remarkable lack of love become the cause of family’s decline.
Evidently, the love is the foundation stone of every family and all the relationships however this core element is entirely missing from the five generations of this Ayemenem family. Almost all the primary protagonists of “The God of Small Things” behave in a distant and indifferent manner toward the love as an unknown and far-off subject. (Sonia, 2013) Take the instance of Baby Kochamma that is the patriarch of the third generation of this family and who has totally lost the real recognition for love in her life. She faced extreme frustration in her early years because of seeking love, and that makes her depressed and gloomy old woman. The disasters of her life lead her to decant negativity on every expression of love shown by anyone. This behavior of Baby Kochamma victimizes the Ammu and her twins to a great extent and makes their lives poisonous. The story says that “Baby Kochamma, who is now eighty-three, is pleased that Esther doesn’t speak to Rahel when they interact now, and she gets no special treatment from him. Baby Kochamma doesn’t like the twins, and she wishes they would leave soon, as they make her uncomfortable.” (Roy, 1997)
As a matter of fact, it is the core responsibility of Baby Kochamma to giving a helping hand to the Ammu and her twins as she is the eldest member of the family. However, the situation is worst as she shows an apparent abhorred for them and asserts that “a married daughter had no position in her parents’ home; as for a divorced daughter. She had no place anywhere at all, and as for a divorced daughter from a love marriage, well words could not describe Baby Kochamma’s outrage.” (Roy, 1997) This loveless and unsympathetic attitude of Kochamma plays a key role in the downfall of the family. Similarly, the character of Pappachi that is the father of two children but never shows affection or any responsible attitude toward his off springs. His curt and rude attributes remind the “Mr.Compson” (Faulkner, 1927) Love is the most secondary thing for Pappachi and is the man that cannot be tamed in the name of emotions. Although this novel is said to be a debut effort of Roy; but she very dexterously weaved all the relevant factors and emotions into the fabric of plot that it represented as a poetical and tragic epic of these twins and their family.
The fundamental concept of this story is to affirm that women are subject to get suppressed by social elements but by implicating this, she never meant to be a feminist. Contrarily, she highlights that these unfair societal practices exist because people do not know the language of love. This deficiency of love affects the lie of Ammo to the most extreme extent as she tackled by everyone as a non-living thing or just as a doll. Her father; Pappachi has a self-oriented personality and he always shows the visible signs of frustration, similar to Baby Kochamma he exhibits his failures of life through his sadist and malicious behavior. Nevertheless, he knows that how to pretend and therefore publically he instantly act like a polite and caring gentleman and father. But whenever he becomes alone with his family; shows a vast carelessness and eventually starts to beat and berate her wife, Mammachi. This absence of love within the domestic setting implies profound adverse effects on Ammu’s personality as she is the eye witness of all such humiliating and unacceptable practices. Both of her parents treat her as she is a hard to carry the burden and they restricted her to attend the college while on the other hand admitted her brother in the Rhodes for premium education. This scenario demonstrates the societal boundaries that allocated the ration of love according to genders.
Eventually, the lack of love and attention make the Ammu evade the tough environment of her home. The unkindness of family members left her with an only option to get married. Consequently, she knots the wedding ties with a man she does not love at all. However, misfortune does not leave her alone as soon after marriage she realized that she made the biggest mistake of her life. Her husband turned out to be an abusive man that likes to torture Ammu mentally and physically in his drunkard state. The imposing of her husband to conduct extramarital relation with his boss makes Ammu turn back to Ayemenem. Though as expected; the lack o love and care in the behaviors of family members make her an outcast as she is divorced now. Meanwhile Chacko; the brother of Ammu also gets separated from his wife and shares same relationship status as Ammu. But the boundaries of love and societal importance created by genders make Chacko the head and Ammu, the servant. Along with her, the twins face most harsh ever days as they are unwanted and disrespected and unloved as their mother.
It is demonstrated throughout the story that love and societal significance merely depends on the gender roles and through the character of Mammachi an irony is portrayed that females also play a spinal role in the destruction of other female’s life. In fact, Roy attempts to recall the calamity of her early childhood and want to convey that a child that brought up in a careless and loveless environment suffers endlessly throughout his or her life. The life and times of Ammu is a concrete instance of such realities; she always feels a deprivation of affection from her parents that makes her take erroneous decisions in her life. Consequently, such decisions made her life more miserable, more loveless. Her life, in turn, affects the patterns o her children’s life, and they become loveless and unwanted too. If only she gets the adequate love from her family, she never confronts such a tragic end as she dies and priest denies offering her funeral rituals, and so she disposed through electric crematorium process and became a receipt number “498693.” (Roy, 1997)
All the characters that hold a major status in the life of Ammu are barren of love. Her father, mother, brother, husband and Baby Kochamma all treated her as a worthless entity and in turn, make her life a stigma. The disposition of Mammachi implies the rule of a Gujarati term known as “Kundanika Kapadia” that defines a woman’s cynical role in the destruction of another woman. Mammachi was a victim of an abusive husband and well aware with the agony of a humiliated and loveless life, yet she never tries to protect her little daughter from the bitterness of this world. Rather she pushed her in the furnace of societal prejudices. This lack of love becomes the reason for the eternal devastation of Ammu and her twins.
The abusive and drunkard husband further brings a misfortune in her life, and she falls in the pitch of darkness. Each and every character plays a crucial role in the miserable life of Ammu. This novel is a significant reference to comprehend the adverse effects of draw undue boundaries on the delicate emotion of love. Every individual in society and family deserves to be loved by their closed ones if elder of society understand this fact they can protect the system from major problems. Through this novel, Roy represents the macro picture of societal blunders as well as the micro illustration of wrong family practices. It elucidates that child a fragile responsibility of parents, and they have to handle them with care; otherwise they will be broken to be never repaired. “The fact that something so fragile, so unbearably tender had survived, had been allowed to exist, was a miracle.” (Roy, 1997) Only love and lots of unconditional love is the key to the door of ultimate happiness both individually and mutually.
Dirlik, Arif. “The Postcolonial Aura: Third World Criticism in the Age of …” N.p., 1997. Web. 2 May 2017.
Faulkner, William. The sound and the fury. United Kingdom: Vintage Classics, n.d. Print.
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Sonia, “Social Consciousness in Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small …” N.p., 2013. Web. 2 May 2017.
The Week (26 Oct.1997): 46. Print