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God Of Small Things Essay Ideas

  • 1

    In The God of Small Things, various "Big Things" and "Small Things" are constantly at odds. Define "Big Things" and "Small Things" in your own terms, and then determine whether one class of things or the other becomes ascendant by the end. Or are they always equal and opposite sets of things?

  • 2

    Roy refers to Velutha as both "The God of Small Things" and "The God of Loss." Using specific examples from the text, explain what about Velutha makes these titles appropriate or inappropriate.

  • 3

    Compare Ammu's and Velutha's secret sexual relationship to Rahel's and Estha's incestuous tryst. Is one or the other more forbidden? How do they express the psychology of the various characters involved?

  • 4

    Examine Roy's use of "Small Things" and the 'small perspective' throughout the novel. Why does she insist on focusing on what is small? Are things small by nature or by convention? Consider the novel's epigraph in this context.

  • 5

    Explore Paradise Pickles & Preserves as a symbol for the forbidden and hidden in The God of Small Things. How does the process of pickling serve as a metaphor for the way the family handles its 'skeletons in the closet'?

  • 6

    How does Roy use the idea of loyalty in the novel? Which characters are loyal and which are disloyal? Some characters to consider: Comrade Pillai, Baby Kochamma, Velutha, Ammu, Estha.

  • 7

    Explain how violence and sex are connected throughout the novel. In Roy's world, can one exist without the other, or are they necessarily connected? What sort of outlook does this create?

  • 8

    Examine Roy's use of the grotesque in the story's events as well as the characters' fantasies. Is any of the violence Roy uses gratuitous? If so, how? If not, why is so much violence necessary in the novel?

  • 9

    Consider Roy's literary style. How does her use of perspective, time, fantasy, refrain, and any other element you wish to discuss affect the way we perceive the story?

  • 10

    Examine Roy's use of setting in the novel. How do her choices serve to highlight a connection or disconnection between the worlds of "Big Things" and "Small Things"? Some locations to consider: The river and riverbank, Ayemenem as a whole, Cochin, the History House, the Ayemenem House, the hotel, the movie theater, Ammu's room, the police station.

  • 11

    Does The God of Small Things have one definite protagonist? If so, who is it and why? If not, why does the novel need no single protagonist?

  • 12

    Contrast one of the following sets of characters, using specific examples from the text: Velutha and Estha, Ammu and Rahel, Sophie and Rahel, Baby Kochamma and Mammachi, Chacko and Comrade Pillai. What makes the comparison worth noting? Do not compare characters unless you can argue why the comparison is worthwhile.

  • 13

    Which affects Estha's and Rahel's relationship more, their shared experience, or their instinctive, biological connection from birth? Make sure you can substantiate your claim with regard to episodes such as their incest, the incident with the Orangedrink Lemondrink man, Sophie Mol's death, and the scene at the police station with Baby Kochamma.

  • THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS relates in a strikingly original way how a once-wealthy and prestigious family from the South Indian state of Kerala rushes headlong to destruction. Several generations of the eccentric Ipes, who are highly Anglicized Indians and Syrian Christians, appear in the narrative. Each one does his or her share in leading the doomed family to its decline and fall.

    Arundhati Roy’s novel opens in contemporary, post-colonial India when the adult Ipe twins, long separated, reunite at the family home, which has fallen into ruin. The action shifts to 1969 when their visiting half-English cousin drowned during the Christmas holidays. This accident set into motion a series of events that ultimately affect each family member and lead to their separation from one another, and separation from life itself.

    The narrative unfolds in an indirect way that suggests the unreliability of memory. Events fade in and out. Details accumulate slowly. Different versions of what happened appear. Only gradually are the child’s death and the marriage of her Indian father and British mother revealed, along with the parentage and sad fate of the twins, and revelations about the destiny of other family members.

    Roy handles this account of the unfortunate Ipes with admirable skill. In spite of the shifting time sequences and the inventive narrative style, each character emerges well-defined and the fragments of story fall into place. Roy also captures in exquisite tones the exotic qualities of tropical South India.

    It is never clear whether “the god of small things” acts as a destroyer or creator, enemy or friend, a bringer of evil or goodness. Perhaps this mysterious deity is life itself, full of contradictions.

    Sources for Further Study

    Asiaweek. XXIII, April 25, 1997, p. 45.

    Far Eastern Economic Review. CLX, April 24, 1997, p. 66.

    The Nation. CCLXV, September 29, 1997, p. 36.

    The New York Review of Books. XLIV, August 14, 1997, p. 16.

    The New York Times Book Review. CII, May 25, 1997, p. 5.

    The New Yorker. LXXIII, June 23, 1997, p. 156.

    Newsweek. CXXIX, May 26, 1997, p. 76.

    Publishers Weekly. CCXLIV, March 3, 1997, p. 62.

    The Times Literary Supplement. May 30, 1997, p. 23.

    The Washington Post Book World. June 22, 1997, p. 1.

    Women’s Review of Books. XIV, September, 1997, p. 1.

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