The God of Small Things is Arundhati Roys first published novel. The story revolves around childhood experiences, love and the small things that affect peoples lives and behavior. One of the main characters, Estha, whose full name is Esthappen Yako, is Rahels twin brother. The two are fraternal twins. The story largely concentrates on the lives of these twins. Estha is particularly traumatized by the events that take place in his life. The author gives a highly stylized and strangely indirect description of Esthas traumatic experiences. She does this due to various reasons.
First, the author describes Esthas traumatic encounter with a stranger so as to create the foundation of the events that follow. Although the author does not openly explain Esthas traumatic encounter, it is clear that he is traumatized when he warns Rahel and Ammo not to trust this man. This traumatic experience that Estha goes through in the hands of a sex pest is what informs most of the events in the novel. Estha is sexually molested by a stranger. This happens during a family outing. The family goes together to watch a movie in the movie theater. As the movie goes on, there is some music that particularly interests Estha. He joins in and starts singing along loudly. The audience is angry with him and tells him that he either shuts up or get out. However, the music entices him so much that the audience makes good their threat and throw him out of the cinema hall. He finds himself alone in the lobby, but this does not stop him from singing along the music in the hall. As he sings, he interrupts the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man who has been sleeping on some stools in the lobby. The man pretends to be angry, but all he wants is to molest Estha. He is said to have looked like an unfriendly jeweled bear(Roy 48). This is already a warning that this is not a good man. The sexual molestation that he faces and the fear that he develops, as a result, ensures the development of the story.
The writer also uses the strange description to develop the aspect of a childs innocence, and the choice works out very efficiently in hammering this message. Before he is thrown out, Esthat is innocently doing what pleases him despite warnings from the audience. This is characteristic of children, unlike adults who have to meet certain social obligations. As soon as he is in the lobby, it is unfortunate that Esthat meets this evil man who asks him to hold his penis as he serves him a cold drink. Esthat innocently holds the penis in one hand and a bottle of lemon drink in the other because he had to (Roy 49). This depicts his innocence since an adult would not sheepishly be taken through such an encounter without shouting for help. The writer describes this nasty encounter:
Through the soggy paper straw (almost flattened with spit and fear), the liquid lemon sweetness rose. Blowing through the straw (while his other hand moved), Estha blew bubbles into the bottle. Sticky sweet lemon bubbles of the drink he couldn't drink. In his head, he listed his grandmother's produce. (Roy 49).
This description portrays the helplessness of Estha who has to endure the ordeal. His mind strays to his grandmothers factory. This is a way of trying to escape from this nasty situation that he has been forced into. The man finally ejaculates in Esthas hand. The writer uses the submissiveness of Estha to bring out the aspect of Childhood innocence.
In the novel, the writer seems to answer the question, what is a human need. Estha appears to answer this question. When he loses his innocence to the stranger, he feels degraded, traumatized and unclean, yet he wants to be clean and acceptable like other children. Estha now thinks that he does not deserve the love that all humans need since he is impure. This affects his future life and behavior. As an adult, he obsessively cleans himself thoroughly to, ostensibly, remove the impurities caused by the molestation. The writer, in this case, brings out the aspect of how some of the things that seem insignificant affect later life. Estha lives in constant fear of the orangedrink lemondrink man, and at one time, as he stirred the thick jam he thought Two Thoughts, and the Two Thoughts he thought were these: (a)Anything can happen to Anyone. and (b)Its best to be prepared. (Roy 93). This means that basically, the human need is preparation in case anything happens. Roy puts it clear that whatever happens in life, one has to be prepared, and that is the human need. Roy depicts it in such a simple manner through Estha.
In conclusion, it is clear that the author, Arundhati Roy, effectively uses a stylized and strange description of Esthas traumatic experience to enhance plot development and portray the innocence of children. In the process, the writer seems to reveal that the human need is love and preparedness for anything that may happen to them. Estha wishes to escape to the History House where he can hide from the orangedrink lemondrink man whom he fears may come to molest him again. The emphasis of the two thoughts clearly bring out the aspect of the small things that a human being needs to reach great things. The writer has, therefore, successfully driven her point home.
Roy, Arundhati. The god of small things. Penguin Books India, 2002.
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