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What is the role of Ammu in the God of Small Things?

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Introduction

What is the role of Ammu in the God of Small Things? Ammu plays a pivotal role in the novel and is presented as the original transgressor. She is the twins mother and also a daughter, niece, sister, wife and lover. Ammu's story represents the main themes in the novel; through her character the reader is able to experience not just the cruelty and injustice of her world but also the happiness she experiences through her relationship with Estha and Rahel and also with Velutha. Velutha and Ammu's romance provides a political and social context in order to view the social caste system and the Untouchables place in society. Ammu is presented throughout the novel as a repressed victim of prejudice against women within the society where she lives in Kerala. She was treated violently by her father, 'bullied all their lives by Someone Big.' Both Ammu and her mother 'were beaten, humiliated and then made to suffer the envy of friends and relations.' After she leaves her abusive husband and returns home she is tolerated, not welcomed by her own family and, as a divorced woman with children, has no rights in her own house and 'had no claim to the property.' ...read more.

Middle

Even though her mother was also in an abusive relationship she has no sympathy when Ammu returns home. This is in stark contrast to the way in which she treats Chacko who has also been divorced. After he stops Pappachi one night from beating her, she devotes all her love to him. However, due to the entrenched values of this society it is unlikely that it was this event that made her treat Chacko so differently than Ammu. The women in the novel are seriously affected by the society in which they were born. Baby Kochamma has neither patience, nor sympathy for Ammu even though she is a woman who has been rejected by love and men. Ammu, Velutha, Rahel and Estha all continue to break the rules of their society as a result of their powerlessness because of the caste systems, and societies to which they were born. Chacko has an opportunity to use his intelligence and travel to Oxford to be educated whereas Ammu has to leave school at 16 with no professional qualifications. ...read more.

Conclusion

Their relationship was based on real love with which they violated the 'love laws.' This was accompanied by hate and violence, with Baby Kochamma's false assertion that Velutha raped Ammu. Ammu endangered her own life by going to the police station and clarifying the false accusation and worsened the family's reputation to rescue Velutha, reinforcing the love she had for him. However the affair is littered with violence and destruction, reinforcing the injustice of the world they live in. It could be argued that the beauty and the fragility of the love that Ammu shares with Velutha outweigh the injustice and make the novel a poignant, uplifting tale of hope. 'The Cost of Living' shows the price one has to pay for breaking the love laws. But that they dared to do so is the important part. The novel ends on their joy in each other and their commitment to meet again 'tomorrow'; a tentative note of hope in an overwhelmingly sad novel. Roy asserts this hope in her last sentences and importance is stressed for the reader to take happiness in their hope. ...read more.

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