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In Arundhati Roy's novel, The God of Small Things, the laws of India's caste system are broken by the characters of Ammu and Velutha, an Untouchable or Paravan. Velutha works at the Paradise

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Introduction

In Arundhati Roy's novel, The God of Small Things, the laws of India's caste system are broken by the characters of Ammu and Velutha, an Untouchable or Paravan. Velutha works at the Paradise Pickles and Preserves Factory owned by Ammu's family. Yet, because he is an Untouchable, the other workers resent him and he is paid less money for his work. Velutha's presence is unsettling to many who believe he acts above his station. His own father notes this problem: "Perhaps it was just a lack of hesitation. An unwarranted assurance. In the way he walked. The way he held his head. The quiet way he offered suggestions without being asked. Or the quiet way in which he diesregarded suggestions without appearing to rebel" (73). Hindus believe that being an Untouchable is punishment for having been bad in a former life. ...read more.

Middle

was only because any kinship, and connection between themselves and him, any implication that if nothing else, at least biologically he was a fellow creature--had been severed long ago. (293) Traditionally, a woman who has had sex with a man from a lower caste would be expelled from her caste. The reason such scandal is caused by the affair of an Untouchable and a Touchable woman might be difficult for some American readers to grasp. Reviewer Patrick Sullivan claims that "an excellent parallel would be a wealthy Southern white woman falling in love with a black man"(Sullivan). Caste in India today Although The God of Small Things takes place in 1969, the caste system is still present in India, especially in rural areas. Today there are about 250 million Untouchables. Caste discrimination has been against the law since 1950, but prejudice continues. ...read more.

Conclusion

So there are those of us like me, or people that I know for instance, to whom it means nothing...It's a very strange situation where there's sort of a gap between...sometimes it's urban and rural, but it's really a time warp. (n. pag.) India is a collage of different social groups. The Indian community is divided (stratified) into caste groupings that are often associated with occupation. Some groups are on the top, are privileged, and are viewed with great respect. Others are in the middle, are socially accepted and treated quite well. Still others are near the bottom, are barely tolerated and are often mistreated. Then there are those underneath - the untouchables. Their presence is often not tolerated and they are the most despised. However, caste is only one of the dividing factors in Indian society. Race is also a factor. Dravidians tend to isolate themselves from Bengalis, Bengalis from Aryans, and Aryans from Dravidians. Language barriers also exist. India has 14 "national" languages and thousands of other languages and dialects exist across the sub-continent. ...read more.

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