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Archive 08-19 GR Discussions > The God of Small Things

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Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner) (perpetualpageturner) | 369 comments Hey chicks! I'm supposed to be leading this but due to some personal things that happened in the beginning of the month I have not been able to read this beforehand nor will I have time to anytime soon. Sorry! :(


So..I figured I'd at least start the thread and hope that some good discussion takes place.

Maybe these questions could help as a starting point:

http://www.readinggroupguides.com/gui...


message 2: by Britt☮ (last edited Mar 16, 2010 05:27PM) (new)

Britt☮ (genki_bee) Jamie, I hope everything is okay with you. Thanks for getting the thread going!

I'm only 28% finished, so I don't want to look at the questions in case any of them contain spoilers :x

Observations so far (may contain spoilers depending on how far you've read!):
-The Random Capitalization the author uses to emphasize a Point is getting on My Nerves!
-It jumps around in time a lot, but the jumps are so fluid that I don't even notice until something specific is mentioned that puts it in its place in time (i.e. the twins' parents' divorce).
-I'm shocked at the treatment of Untouchables... I guess I shouldn't be. I mean, they ARE called Untouchables. I knew they were the lowest rank of the caste system, but I never knew the specifics — having to sweep up wherever they walk and put their hands over their mouth whenever they speak... wow. It's heartbreaking and infuriating.

Anyway, I'm going to try to stay away from this thread til I finish the book! ;)


message 3: by May (new)

May Che | 1 comments The God of Small Things is the only novel written by Arundhati Roy--One of the women activists in India. When my mentor gave me the book, it never occurred to me that it would hit me. Roy is great in details. You cant miss her descriptions of the cruelty for the untouchables, the 'forbidden' love. A splendid read! :D


Em*bedded-in-books* (embeddedinbooks) | 4853 comments The story takes place in a little village in Kerala, which is at the southernmost tip of India. Kerala is a linear strip of land facing the Arabian sea. The climate is tropical, with lots of lush greenery and natural beauty. At the time when the story took place, about 70 years ago, Kerala was a lush, commercially backward state with lots of tiny villages, and untouchability was in the process of being abolished. Now there is no untouchability in Kerala. People are quite broadminded regardign caste and religion.


message 5: by Sharon A. (new)

Sharon A. (sharona826) | 172 comments I had a hard time getting into this book, so I set it aside to try another time. I'm going to lurk on the discussion, though!


message 6: by Mary (last edited Mar 19, 2010 06:37AM) (new)

Mary (madamefifi) | 202 comments Sharon A. wrote: "I had a hard time getting into this book, so I set it aside to try another time. I'm going to lurk on the discussion, though!"

Me, too. It just doesn't capture my interest the way other books set in India have---The Toss of a Lemon, The Death of Vishnu, Between the Assassinations...


Em*bedded-in-books* (embeddedinbooks) | 4853 comments It is difficult to understand for non-Indians. I just loved this book because I am from Kerala and I could relate with the story, the life style and the thoughts and processes


message 8: by Mary (new)

Mary (madamefifi) | 202 comments Um, I had no problem "understanding" it, Smitha...I just couldn't get into the rhythm of the writing.


message 9: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany | 92 comments I am not done yet, but the capitalization is a bit distracting. I have not read much about India so I am really enjoying the book. The names were a little confusing for me in the beginning, but I think I have a handle on the characters now that I am at the half way point.


message 10: by Laura (new)

Laura Rittenhouse | 31 comments This books was a bit of a conundrum for me. I guess I have to say I loved it because I read it a few weeks ago and find I remember it well and think of it often.

BUT - when I remember it, I remember it in choronological order. The bouncing around time-wise drove me to distraction. At one point I almost decided I disliked the book. But I kept with it and am glad I did. For the life of me I can't figure out why the author didn't write the book in chronological order. The story starts at a bit of a critical point in the middle of the time line. But it doesn't feel critical when you read it at first. Only about 3/4 of the way through the book do you see how important the death of Sophie was.


Anyone who can explain how the reading was enhanced by the time jumps, please post your insight here.

The depiction of India was one of the best things about the book. I've been to India a few times, did business there and almost lived there. Though I am far from an expert, I find it a beautiful country with wonderful people, but the caste system is tragic and unfortunately still rumbles beneath the surface even though it is outlawed. Books like this area fantastic way to see bits of life that most of us will never experience ourselves. Perhaps the story could have been set in downtown New York without huge changes to the overall plot, but isn't it great that it wasn't?


message 11: by Leila (last edited Mar 25, 2010 02:11AM) (new)

Leila (leilasbooks) | 4 comments Ooohhh! I read this as part of my English exam about two years ago and completely loved it! I remember I was fascinated by Roy's beautiful language and all.

About the time jumps - it was confusing at first but at the same time, I thought it worked very well. I liked the fact that we knew what was going to happen, and to some parts, how it was going to happen, but we hadn't yet read it and slowly, it was building to that moment. I especially loved the whole foreshadowing about Velutah and Amu (am I remembering the names right? I do mix things up often. It took me about 3 times to read the first few chapters until I finally made sense of everyone).

I have a few of my favourites quotes selected as well :D I thought I could share them here, if that is alright? *loves collecting quotes*

SPOILERS OBVIOUSLY!!!!!!!!

"The secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again. THAT is their mystery and magic."

"It is after all so easy to shatter a story. To break a chain of thought. To ruin a fragment of a dream being carried around carefully like a piece of porcelain. To let it be, to travel with it, as Velutha did, is much the harder thing to do."

"And the air was full of Thoughts and Things to Say. But at times like these, only the Small Things are ever said. Big Things lurk unsaid inside."

"Nothing mattered much. Nothing much mattered. And the less it mattered the less it mattered. It was never important enough. Because Worse Things had happened. In the country that she came from poised forever between the terror of war and the horror of peace Worse Things kept happening"

"Perhaps it's true that things can change in a day. That a few dozen hours can affect the outcome of whole lifetimes. And that when they do, those few dozen hours, like the salvaged remains of a burned house---the charred clock, the singed photograph, the scorched furniture---must be resurrected from the ruins and examined. Preserved. Accounted for. Little events, ordinary things, smashed and reconstitutred. Imbued with new meaning. Suddenly they become the bleached bones of a story."

"When you hurt people, they begin to love you less. That's what careless words do. They make people love you a little less."

"But what was there to say?

Only that there were tears. Only that Quietness and Emptiness fitted together like stacked spoons. Only that there was a snuffling in the hollows at the base of a lovely throat. Only that a hard honey-colored shoulder had a semicircle of teethmarks on it. Only that they held each other close, long after it was over. Only that what they shared that night was not happiness, but hideous grief.

Only that once again they broke the Love Laws. That lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much."

"Being with him made her feel as though her soul had escaped from the narrow confines of her island country into the vast, extravagant spaces of his. He made her feel as though the world belonged to them- as though it lay before them like an opened frog on a dissecting table, begging to be examined."

Ahh, there are so many! <3


message 12: by Elena (new)

Elena | 129 comments I am in the middle of chapter two and I really would like to story to move forward. It goes back and when it does, sometimes is interesting, sometime is boring.


message 13: by Laura (new)

Laura Rittenhouse | 31 comments Elena wrote: "I am in the middle of chapter two and I really would like to story to move forward. It goes back and when it does, sometimes is interesting, sometime is boring."

Elena, It sounds like your feelings are much like mine. All I can say is it is a great story with beautiful prose. Try to hang in there. It is good in spite of (not because of) the jumping around.


message 14: by Em (new)

Em (emmap) I don't think that this is the most easily accessible book that I have ever read but I agree that it is worth persevering with. I wasn't sure, if I found it difficult to get into at first because it was a total change of gear from the book I was reading previously - but from some of the comments above I now think perhaps I would have found it so regardless.

Once I was read further and became used to the style, I felt there were some genuinely heart-breaking moments which for me indicates the worth of the book -if a novel can move me to the verge of tears then I must be invested in its characters and events taking place.


message 15: by Britt☮ (new)

Britt☮ (genki_bee) One thing about reading this on Kindle — I noticed quite a bit of missing punctuation and words running into each other, but I couldn't tell if it was bad formatting or if the author had done it on purpose...


message 16: by Laura (new)

Laura Rittenhouse | 31 comments Britt☮ wrote: "One thing about reading this on Kindle — I noticed quite a bit of missing punctuation and words running into each other, but I couldn't tell if it was bad formatting or if the author had done it on..."

Britt,

In the paperback version I didn't notice any formatting or punctuation issues so I'm sure the author didn't do this on purpose. I'm not sure how Kindle editions are created but I suspect it is some automatic conversion program.

I suspect that because I have a novel available in ebook and paperback format from my publisher. One day it was just "there" in Kindle. I've never seen that version but now you make me wonder if I should buy a copy to check.

Have you found this kind of thing on Kindle versions before?


message 17: by Britt☮ (last edited Mar 29, 2010 06:13PM) (new)

Britt☮ (genki_bee) I've occasionally noticed mistakes in other books but was never sure if it was just bad e-book formatting or if it was a copyediting thing that was overlooked in the print version of the book and therefore persisted in the e-book version.

This thread from KindleBoards.com has some good info about the issue: http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php...

You may want to check your book just to be sure!


message 18: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany | 92 comments Britt☮ wrote: "One thing about reading this on Kindle — I noticed quite a bit of missing punctuation and words running into each other, but I couldn't tell if it was bad formatting or if the author had done it on..."

The same thing happened on my eReader version of the book. I am usually able to ignore it, but with the author's use of capitalization plus the book errors it was a little distracting.


message 19: by Duy (new)

Duy | 50 comments I ABSOLUTELY loved loved loved this book. The word selection was simply divine. Each paragraph is like a poem onto itself. Most of the book resonated with me and I think this book isn't a book that "everyone" will enjoy. There are so many subtle shifts in tone that one can get lost and forget the story.

Regarding the flashbacks, they didn't bother me that much. Once I got a hang of them, it was easy to go back and forth.

One thing that confused me was how many people there were and who was actually related in which way to someone else. Finally I just got a post-it and made the family tree.

Another thing that completedly threw me off was the fact that the twins end up having sex. Was that really necessary ? Why did that happen ?

Also, there wasn't a good merging of Sophie Mol's death and Ammu and Velutha's love affair. It seemed as if the author was trying to ball them into one theme and it just didn't work with me.

All in all though, I loved the book :)


message 20: by Britt☮ (new)

Britt☮ (genki_bee) Duygu wrote: "Another thing that completedly threw me off was the fact that the twins end up having sex. Was that really necessary ? Why did that happen ?"

They did??? When? I'm not sure how, but I must have missed that...


message 21: by Duy (new)

Duy | 50 comments It happened close to the end, when they were sitting on the bed or something. I will look and see the page number when I get home. How could you have missed that :)


message 22: by Britt☮ (new)

Britt☮ (genki_bee) Oh, wow. I found it... in Chapter 20. I didn't pick up on that at all. I think I was simultaneously too engrossed in the Ammu/Velutha love story and distracted By the Author writing Like This.


message 23: by Duy (new)

Duy | 50 comments ahahah I liked her writing like that. But I got a little annoyed with all of the everything-shaped Holes in the World :)

I was grossed out about them having sex. I mean they haven't seen each other for years and years, they didn't even talk about what happened, and they just start having sex even though they are twins???


message 24: by Britt☮ (new)

Britt☮ (genki_bee) Reading it in context, I can understand why it happened. I think it stemmed from a pain beyond words and a desperation to be loved and share the connection they once had... you can't just pick up right where you left off when you haven't seen someone for several years, so they had to find a different way to feel connected with each other.

Still, it's pretty messed up, but so is everything else that happened in their lives...


message 25: by Duy (new)

Duy | 50 comments I think they set up the scene for this in the previous scenes in which Rahel watches Estha taking his clothes off. Also, when they keep saying how Estha sees his mother in Rahel's eyes.


message 26: by Laura (new)

Laura Rittenhouse | 31 comments Duygu wrote: "I think they set up the scene for this in the previous scenes in which Rahel watches Estha taking his clothes off. Also, when they keep saying how Estha sees his mother in Rahel's eyes."

Wait, are you saying seeing his mother in Rahel's eyes is a reason to have sex with her? Is that double incest?

The whole section (split over several time flahes) with the twins coming back "home" and being so disfunctional disturbed me. I kept wanting them to talk to each other or give each other a good slap or something. They were the only ones either of them would ever have a hope of relating to, but please not sexually.


message 27: by Duy (new)

Duy | 50 comments Yes Laura, my sentiments exactly!

Also, why did it take this long for them to get back in touch?


message 28: by Laura (new)

Laura Rittenhouse | 31 comments Duygu wrote: "Yes Laura, my sentiments exactly!

Also, why did it take this long for them to get back in touch?"


Duygu, Why did it take them so long? Part of me wondered why they fell apart as much as they did, why they didn't write and stay in contact. But then I realized (which was hard to determine because of all the timejumps) that we never saw their lives between when they were separated and when they got back as adults so we don't really know all they suffered through their teens. Maybe it was dreadful enough to make thema afraid/ashamed to see each other?????


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