The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

This book is like a hybrid of poem and novel. Sometimes I have trouble to trace the outline and development of the story but along the reading, I enjoy the beauty and power of the words.

I can’t help to see and feel India though Rahel and other characters. The author has exceptional skills in touching the essence by smell,color, feeling, taste and then representing the sensation by words.Unlike the India I saw from BBC documentary or travel diaries, this book reveals the sophisticated India–India that has Christian caste, Hindu Caste, Post-colonial conflicts, communism, untouchable, women’s right, inter-cultural/community marriage,family relationship e.t.c.

Though the story is based on India, it is not restricted to things happen within India. As Claire Scobie commented, “It is rare to find a book that so effectively cut through the clothes of nationality, caste and religion to reveal the bare bones of humanity.” Every one in this story has his/her own tragedy and conflict, trapped in his/her own memory and weakness. Each of them can not understand each other and not willing to face the problem. Wives were bitten by husbands but they never complain; brother and sister were separated but no tears; People who realize the injustice of caste, try little to change it. Things happen, everyday, in small things(eg. a moth to Pappachi), hidden is the unnoticeable moments.It is not just phenomenon of India, it happens everywhere, it happens wherever human exist.

But they survive, bear their own sorrow and failure, and keep going. They expect nothing but they are nevertheless creating their own (personal and social) future. But our life, though it is full of national tragedy, personal struggle and conflict, is just a drop of water in the ocean. Social revolution is a macro reflection of personal struggle. People want changes, people think they are fighting for better life. But all this changes and revolution are nothing in the face of “Earth Mother.”

But the God of small things cheer us up and lead us to live on. We sometimes forgot our mischief or suffering, because 1) too much things happen-natural disasters, wars, death, illness, by and by we think this is normal, everything happen, either good or bad, is rationally exist;2) we living for today, not for the past or future, we have too much concern with our existing trouble and too busy to deal with that, we don’t realize we were/could be the victims;3) we see things happen but don’t know the cause; we don’t realize the primary cause is hidden in the small things and not until years after we realize how things happen but we have no power to change that, so we live on, if not merrily, at least with less complain.

Here are the quotes I like and it helps me to understand the story:

He was exasperated because he didn’t know what that look meant. He put it somewhere between indifference and despair. He didn’t know that in some places, like the country that Rahel came from, various kinds of despair competed for primacy. And that personal despair could never be desperate enough. That something happened when personal turmoil dropped by at the wayside shrine of the vast, violent, circling, driving, ridiculous, insane, unfeasible, public turmoil of a nation. That Big God howled like a hot wind, and demanded obeisance. Then Small God (cozy and contained, private and limited) came away cauterized, laughing numbly at his own temerity. Inured by the confirmation of his own inconsequence, he became resilient and truly indifferent. Nothing mattered much. Nothing much mattered. And the less it mattered, the less it mattered. It was never important enough. Because Worse Things had happened. In the country that she came from, poised forever between the terror of war and the horror of peace, Worse Things kept happening.

So Small God laughed a hollow laugh, and skipped away cheerfully. Like a rich boy in shorts. He whistled, kicked stones. The source of his brittle elation was the relative smallness of his misfortune. He climbed into people’s eyes and became an exasperating expression.


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