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Study Guide to The God of Small Things

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Introduction

Study Guide to The God of Small Things Arundhati Roy (Flamingo, 1997) Key Concepts Boundaries, morality, history, love, death, family relationships, fear, guilt. Summary The God of Small Things is the story of a family in India whose members transgress accepted boundaries in various ways and the tragic events that result. Estha and Rahel are twins whose cousin comes from England to stay. While there she dies and the twins hold themselves responsible. They also hold themselves responsible for the death of an Untouchable employee of the family firm who has befriended them and who, though they didn't realise it, had begun an affair with their mother. The twins are separated from each other and from their mother after this and struggle through life until they come back together twenty three years later. Cultural significance This was the 1997 Booker Prize winner. Sales have remained very high-over a quarter of a million copies have now been sold (30/8/98) and it is still well up in the best-seller lists. It has been translated into 27 languages. Biographical background Arundhati Roy was born in 1961 in Bengal, grew up in Kerala where The God of Small Things is set and trained as an architect at the Delhi School of Architecture. She became well known for 'complex and scathing' film scripts. ...read more.

Middle

a boat. When he and Rahel subsequently find a boat, Velutha repairs it for them and they use it to cross the river to reach a long-abandoned house in the middle of an overgrown estate. On the veranda of the house they prepare a home from home by taking some of their special things and some food. What they do not realise is that on the night of Sophie's arrival, Ammu and Velutha start an affair-scandalously ignoring their caste distinctions. At night the two of them use the twins' boat to reach the same veranda. After a couple of weeks, Velutha's father visits Mammachi, the family matriarch and Ammu's mother. Drunk and distraught, he tells Mammachi of the affair and offers to kill his son to redeem the shame that has been caused. Ammu's bitter, spiteful aunt, Baby Kochamma, locks her in her room. In her rage Ammu shouts at the children to go away. Already worried that she might love them less than she did, they decide to run away to the veranda of the old house. Sophie Mol goes with them and they set off across the river in the dark. However, there had been a big storm and the river is swollen and littered with debris. A large log capsizes them and when the twins reach the shore, Sophie Mol is nowhere in sight. ...read more.

Conclusion

Why? * What do you think are the root causes of all that happens? * What would you identify as the key motifs and themes? * Which of these do you think are the most significant? * How is the idea of boundaries explored? Who enforces them? Who breaks them? What moral judgements are made? * What is the significance of the title, The God of Small Things? * What function does the moth serve in the book? * What does the book have to say about the changes to the world brought about by modernity, development and globalisation, etc.? * What is the nature of history and of memories in The God of Small Things? * Do you think Arundhati Roy is making the punishment fit the crime? How much of a sense of justice is there? * How is religion viewed? * If a friend of yours has read the book, what links with the gospel would you identify? Back to Index This study guide produced by Tony Watkins. Study Guide editors: Nick Pollard and Tony Watkins. Comments and analysis of this film by Damaris Study Groups. Have you studied something useful? Would you like to produce a study guide for us? Further information. This is one of several study guide pages available on the DAMARIS Web site. Contact | (c) 1999 BeCaL | Privacy statement | Disclaimer | Credits | Feedback | Suggest a resource | Help This page last updated: 12 December 98 ...read more.

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