The God of Small Things The God of Small Things discussion


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Norman I agree that the ending didn't suit the characters as they had been developed earlier. Thematically, however, the twins' coupling links directly to their mother's relationship with the 'untouchable'. So Roy leaves the reader with these questions: is their act abhorrent? is it more or less abhorent than their mother's act? is it more or less abhorent than what happened to their mother's lover? can a society sanction some of these actions, but not others? is the whole Indian class structure an abomination that forces its people into 'unnatural' acts in response?

This novel is one that demands a second look, or discussion, to provide some answers...or at least probing questions.





Andrea I agree with Norman. It's easy to feel sympathy for Ammu & Velutha and to condemn the "backward" caste system beliefs. Roy uses the twins' lovemaking to shake up our view of the old "love laws." Not that she's encouraging making it with a sibling, but she allows readers to experience the feeling of shock and disgust that accompanies a break from the old rules (The shock factor is important here, I think. Hence the apparent break from the character development). Suddenly, our feelings aren't so far separated from the Indian villagers' feelings about a forbidden act. We, too, have sacred/taboo elements of our society and Roy shows how difficult it really is to defend a society without love laws--it's not as easy as saying that there's nothing wrong with Touchable-Untouchable love. It's easier to argue against a different culture's belief system, but it's much harder to examine one's own beliefs and dare to look at a condemned act without that ingrained judgment.

Thanks for starting this thread. I just finished the book--loved it--and was dying to discussed it with someone!


tash another thing is that the twins used to be the same soul, but after the incident when ammu was caught, they became separated from each other; this was a way for them to become whole again. this is just adding another dimension of the love scene; the love laws are the primary reason why she added it, i believe. loved this book


Connie This book is so good, I reread it every two or three years. I don't know why it hasn't been made into an indie film. Mira Nyal (sp.?) would be a great director for it.


Priya For Connie :) - This book will never be made into a movie as Arundhati Roy has made it very clear that she will never sell the copyrights of this one - the reader in me loves that decision but I feel it might be a loss for the Hollywood/ Bollywood.


Wastrel Andrea wrote: "I agree with Norman. It's easy to feel sympathy for Ammu & Velutha and to condemn the "backward" caste system beliefs. Roy uses the twins' lovemaking to shake up our view of the old "love laws." No..."

Interesting. It had never occurred to me that the reader might be expected to be shocked or disgusted by the incest. I didn't feel that one was exploiting the other, so there can't really be anything wrong with it.

It's an important reminder, I suppose, that it's hard for an author to gauge the reaction to her text, or for a reviewer to know how other readers are reacting. It literally had never occurred to me at all that someone might react in that way. But of course, taboos are taboos precisely because of their irrational (and hence unpredictable) force and strength - and we don't know what is taboo with other readers. Even within a society, we can live with completely different moral standards - it's sometimes hard to remember that what one person throws around unthinkingly (incest, gay sex, interracial sex, intercaste sex, etc), another will have a moral objection to. And even harder to remember, perhaps, that even if two people agree more or less on what is right and what is wrong, they may have totally different taboo reactions - what one person will react to by saying "that's clearly immoral, but it's interesting what the author says about it", another will react to by saying "oh, that's disgusting!".

And those assumptions shape our appreciation of the text. You assumed that we had ingrained distaste for incest, and that Roy took this into consideration and is using it to make a point. I assumed, I now realise, that Roy was just using the incest in its own right, without necessarily taking into consideration any widespread social views about it. I mean, I know that many people feel uncomfortable about incest, and being a good writer no doubt Roy was aware of this dimension, but that's different from basing her point on that uncomfortableness.... but I think that because your reaction to the incest is important to you, you assume it is important to Roy, while I think that because that reaction is not important to me, I assumed it was not important to Roy, so I never saw it in the same terms you did.

Fascinating.


Tanvi Norman wrote: "I agree that the ending didn't suit the characters as they had been developed earlier. Thematically, however, the twins' coupling links directly to their mother's relationship with the 'untouchabl..."

Interesting. Let me take the last question first, not only because I am an Indian but also because I found it the most intriguing.

The Indian class, or as we call it 'caste' structure was initially based on occupations which, like in every part of the world, ended up being increasingly rigid and cumbersome to those under it. However, I would like to mention that such attempts at 'categorizing' humans by humans themselves have never been restricted to the subcontinent but have been practiced across the world.

Then, whether such classifications and the ensuing restrictions compel people towards unnatural acts, I would think the answer to be yes. It has been proven time and again that when in any sort of bondage, human beings are bound to rebel.

As to whether their "act" is abhorrent, I did not find it so, as I have put it in my thread. It was, by no means, an act of pleasure but was rather a sharing of their deep-set grief. And neither is their mother's act so because she was single and in love with this guy!

What happened to Velutha is the most disgusting of all, and forms the crux of the story- injustice, and how it brings people together.

Whether a society can sanctions some of these while condemn others, of course! Happens all the time.


Tanvi Andrea wrote: "I agree with Norman. It's easy to feel sympathy for Ammu & Velutha and to condemn the "backward" caste system beliefs. Roy uses the twins' lovemaking to shake up our view of the old "love laws." No..."

Well-put. :)


message 9: by Val (last edited Jun 30, 2012 12:40AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Val I had not read this thread when I put my comment on the other one.
"Wastrel put it very well and dely made an important point, I think.
Incest is a cultural taboo in most societies, but inter-caste sex is a strong cultural taboo in the society depicted. We are 'supposed' to be shocked by the incest, but then realise that we are reacting to a cultural taboo in the same way as those who condemned Estha and Rahel's mother did."
I agree with Norman, Andrea, Tanvi etc. That is the point Roy is making. Also that the society will never be 'whole', as one, while those cultural taboos exist.


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