life & Social Background
About The Novel
Time Line & Major Themes
( example from the novel: Chacko as Pickle Baron)
( example from the novel: the children's view about happy moments ''beads on a (somewhat scanty) necklace'' p. 60)
-- less than 5% of Indian's population
-- more than 1/3 in Kerala are Christians
-- the Syrian Church is one of the oldest branches of Christianity--came to India with St. Thomas in 52 CE.
''The first Communist government in the world was elected in Kerala in 1957, and from then on it became a big power to contend with. I think in '67 the government returned to power after having been dismissed by Nehru, and so in '69 it was at its peak. And it was as if revolution was really just around the corner.''-- Arundhati Roy
-- Relative freedom for women in Kerala
-- assertive, energetic, courageous women
-- instances of patriarchal oppression
example from the novel:
"A lot of the atmosphere of A God of Small Things is based on my experience of what it was like to grown up in Kerala. Most interestingly, it was the only place in the world where religions coincide, there is Christianity, Hinduism, Marxism and Islam and they all live together and rub each other down. When I grew up it was the Marxism that was very strong, it was like the revolution was coming the next week¡K. To me, I couldn¡¦t think of a better location for a book about human beings."
( example from the novel: p. 20; p. 320)
"in some way the structure of the book ambushes the story¡K. In the first chapter I more or less tell you the story, but the novel ends in the middle of the story¡K."
( example--p.32 "Suddenly they become the bleached bones of a story.")
1969--communist march; Sophie Mol's (8) visit, death, and funeral; Ammu and Velutha; Velutha's death
1973--Ammu's death (31, p.5 ''a viable die-able age'')
1992--the narrative present--Estha ('the quietness,'' ''re-Returned''); Rahel (divorced, back for the States); Baby Kochamma (satellite TV and diary)
The two kids: twin, from we and us to they
-- Here as well as in the novel we see an interactions and interpenetration
of Big God (the World and Social Machine) and Small God (small lives).
p.33 "That it [the story] really began in the days when the Love Laws were made. The laws that lay down who should be loved, and how. And How much.''
caste is ''the defining consideration in all Indian politics, (and) in all Indian marriages, (but) the lines are blurring. India exists in several centuries simultaneously.''
caste and gender: e.g. Baby Kochamma's understanding of the status of an Indian woman pp.44-5
time: 12/1969 (the day before Sophie Mol's arrival)
I. the influence of (neo)colonial cultures [British and American]:
1. Pappachi's moth (p.48):
3. Baby Kochaman's complete absorption of colonial cultures.
-- Mammachi's pickles and talents in playing the violin: the former is taken over by Chacko and the latter, stopped by her husband;IV. The Symbolic "Small Things":
-- "When I think back on all the things I have done I think from a
very early age, I was determined to negotiate with the world on my
own. There were no parents, no uncles, no aunts; I was completely
responsible for myself."
-- ""My mother says that some of the incidents in the book are based
on things that happened when I was two years old. I have no
recollection of them. But obviously, they were trapped in some part
of my brain."
IV. Social Issues:
figures in the novel reviews the novel
One critic's response to EMS: EMS shouldn't mind the small things in GOST
(free) with NY times to read this review.