The Ways in Which Arundhati Roy Tells the Story in the First Chapter of the God of Small Things

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  • Topic: Twin, Time, Arundhati Roy
  • Pages : 5 (1802 words )
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  • Published : January 28, 2013
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Kamilah Alegeh
Write about the ways in which Arundhati Roy tells the story in the first chapter of ‘The God of Small Thing.’ The God of Small Things takes different forms of drama. This novel could be seen as a family drama, a romantic drama, and also a literary fiction. From the first chapter, we already begin to see the story centred on a family’s background. We meet Baby Kochamma whose name was really Navomi Ipe and we learn that she is ‘Rahel’s baby grandaunt, her grandfather’s younger sister.’ A reader could blindly say that the book is a family drama because of the mentioning of a grandfather, a grandaunt and a niece (granddaughter). Furthermore, Estha who is Rahel’s twin brother is mentioned. ‘They were two-egg twins. Dizygotic doctors called them, born from separate but simultaneously fertilized eggs.’ The twins were very close to each other, almost as if they ‘were a rare breed of Siamese twins, physically separate but with joint identities.’ The story of the God of Small Things revolves around the Ipe family, Estha and Rahel’s family. Roy tells us the story of the Ipe family through flashbacks. ‘They were nearly born on a bus Estha and Rahel. The car in which Baba, their father, was taking Ammu, their mother, to the hospital in Shillong...’ With this event from one of the flashbacks, the parents of Estha and Rahel are introduced. There is also a flashback to the death and burial of their cousin, Sophie Mol. ‘She was visiting from England. Estha and Rahel were seven years old when she died. She was almost nine. She had a special child-sized coffin.’ This flashback introduces the reader to a major anti-climax of the story- the death of Sophie Mol and the events prior to that. We know it is a family drama also because of the way the Ipe family members react to the death of Sophie Mol. The novel also takes the form of a romantic drama. The novel could be interpreted as a love story on forbidden love. Forbidden love because in the story, there is love between different classes of people. There is love between Velutha, a man in the lowest class in the caste system (untouchables) and Ammu, a higher caste woman. Forbidden love because it breaks the ‘laws that lay down who should be loved, and how, and how much.’ The story has elements of romance in it. For instance, Ammu has just realised that she loved at night, the man her children loved by day. The novel also takes the form of a literary fiction because of how Roy cautiously unfolds the story to us. We go right into the minds of the characters, read and imagine their stories from their own point of view. Roy tells us the story through these forms and leaves us anticipating and asking questions. Questions like ‘how did Sophie Mol die?’, ‘were Velutha and Ammu the only ones that broke the love laws?’ and more. Through the course of the story, Roy leaves the readers to pick up answers to their various questions. The structure of the first chapter is very detailed. In most novels, first chapters set the scene, telling us about what we will encounter in the other subsequent chapters. The story is told in an episodic manner using a series of flashbacks. The story in the first chapter begins in the present time when Rahel returns to ‘the old house on the hill’ because her brother is back. From this flashback to the past, we are moved to the future as we are told that Ammu has died. ‘Thirty one. Not old. Not young. But a viable die-able age.’ From that point in the future, Roy takes us back to the past when Baba was taking Ammu to the hospital to give birth. From this point, we are more or less reading the story in a linear manner. We find out that the children are not happy that they were not born in a bus because they’ve lost the privileges of getting free bus rides and being buried with Government money. We learn about Sophie Mol’s death and her burial and of how Ammu, Estha and Rahel were allowed to go for the burial but ‘were made to stand...
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