Adult Boundaries in 'the Passion' and 'the God of Small Things'.

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  • Topic: The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy, Caste
  • Pages : 7 (2521 words )
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  • Published : April 22, 2013
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Winterson and Roy refuse to 'accept what we think of as adult boundaries'. How is this reflected in 'The Passion' and 'The God of Small Things'? In every civilisation, there are boundaries which are set by the adults to run our lives. They are the unspoken laws which were created by higher authorities and not supposed to be questioned. Adult boundaries present the strength of the society. Yet those boundaries suppress the individuals’ freedom. Most importantly it deters the lives of the weakest people in the society. Both Jeanette Winterson and Arundhati Roy have strong opinions on these adult boundaries. Arundhati Roy was born in 1961 in the North-eastern Indian region of Bengal, to a Christian mother and Hindu father in India’s caste system. She spent her childhood in Ayemenem in Kerala. Roy is widely known for political activism. Winterson was born in Manchester. She was adopted and raised in Elim Pentecostal Church. Her parents wanted her to be missionary. Winterson identified herself as a lesbian and left home at 16 as her parents would not accept her as a lesbian. Brought up as a Pentecostal Christian, “Jeanette never truly abandons her faith; her faith abandons her because of clear disagreements over her sexual identity”( Michael Dick on ‘Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit’). Here, Winterson’s faith could be her parents. Perhaps she had faith in them that they would accept her. Therefore she doesn’t abandon them but they abandon her. One might suggest that this is a false statement because Winterson’s rebellious personality may have pushed her to abandon her faith. Although both writers are attacking the adult boundaries to break them down, they know this would usually end in tragedy as adult boundaries restore orders. Both writers use their characters to define and then challenge the society’s rules.

The formation of and belonging to categories are adult boundaries. For example Estha and Rahel were not aware that they belonged to a categorised system as they ran off to Velutha to freely play with him therefore meaning that categories form as you grow into it. The characters are faced with loss of freedom as they have no choice as to “who should be loved. And how. And how much”. Estha and Rahel are limited in showing their love towards Velutha and Ammu breaks the boundaries by loving an Untouchable. Velutha. Similarly, Villanelle differentiates between genders which are two completely different categories. She dresses as a male by wearing a ‘codpiece’ and covering her face with ‘white powder’. Every layer of powder blurs the ability to differentiate her between genders. Winterson says, “heterosexuality and homosexuality are a kind of psychosis, and the truth is somewhere in the middle”( http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/homosexuality.html). However, this is biased as Winterson is someone who challenges the barriers set for her. The idea of sexuality categories is bound to cultural and historical factors. For some, The word ‘heterosexuality’ is redundant because male and female genders naturally complete each other. Winterson does not want there to be specific categories separating sexual preferences which she has to belong to. Therefore, as she fearlessly breaks between boundaries they become blurred as the readers cannot decide where she belongs. Henri is also present in a so-called them and us category as he justifies the killing of British soldiers by calling them, ‘the enemy’ rather than recognising their humanity and the responsibility associated with taking human life.

Under Napoleon’s personal governance, Henri insidiously expresses his feminine side. He feels sympathetic to the abused prostitutes and feels fear by the inhumanness of the war. Henri is actually a weak, even feminine soldier, who has a passion for Napoleon which implies that he is also sexually attracted to him. After losing an eye at Austerlitz, Henri questions himself if he should run away from the war. Henri then says, "to...
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