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Critically assess the role of Velutha in the novel The God of Small Things.

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Introduction

Aditya Nanavati 1 February 2001 English 11 Essay: Critically assess the role of Velutha in the novel The God of Small Things In The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy uses the character of Velutha to explore the caste system and more specifically, the idea of untouchables. She shows how society looks upon the untouchables by the way in which the characters treat Velutha, an untouchable. His relationship with Ammu shows how people are also friendly to untouchables but moreover that untouchables go to other untouchables as there is no one else for them. Mainly, Roy compares being an untouchable to being handicapped. Roy writes about untouchables being like physically disabled. In her dream, Ammu sees a man with her. "...a cheerful man with one are held her close...He had no other arm" shows that the person with her is handicapped as he has only one arm. Her dream goes on "He could do only one thing at a time. ...read more.

Middle

Estha and Rahel like to be with Velutha and see him as a friend. They even go as far as to touch him. This shows that this idea of there being untouchables in society is just another way of people trying to make themselves superior. This is because the children are not aware of the caste system and when they still go ahead and make friends with Velutha. So it shows that he is a person just like anybody else and not like a "pariah dog" (page 284) or any other animal. Untouchables are shown to be excluded from society and on their own. It also shows that untouchables cannot have a relationship with a touchable but only untouchables. This would give a possible reason for the relationship between Ammu and Velutha. Velutha is an untouchable. Roy also depicts Ammu as being similar to an untouchable. She has a bad reputation in society. This is because of her being married to someone outside her religion, and then bore him two children and then divorced him. ...read more.

Conclusion

After this incident, Ammu is totally shown as an untouchable, shunned away by most of the society. When she goes to the police station, the inspector asks her to leave and suppresses her by calling her a "veshya" or a prostitute. And when she dies, she is seen like an untouchable because the church doesn't allow her to be buried and she was cremated in the electric crematorium where untouchables (beggars, derelicts etc.) were buried (page 162). Velutha plays an important role in this novel as he helps Roy build up the idea of the untouchable-ism in the caste system. She clearly shows that the untouchables are treated badly by most people even though they are needed, such as Mammachi not letting him enter the home even though he is an asset to the factory. But the novel also shows that society is the one that creates this idea of people being in a lower class, even in a communist region. And so Roy seems to be against this idea of the caste system as she clearly shows that the character himself is humane and amiable but is still unlike just because of society. ...read more.

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