What is the overall mood and atmosphere of The God of Small Things?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of the key aspects of this novel is its narrative structure and the way that Roy presents the reader with two characters who are tortured by an event in the past, and their complicity in that event. Her genius lies in delaying the revealing of that event until the end of the novel. However, even though the reader only finds out what happened at the end, the mood of turmoil and haunting sadness that dominates the text is evident from the opening page. Note the description that describes Ayemenem when Rahel returns to it:

Slanting silver ropes slammed into loose earth, ploughing it up like gunfire... The wild, overgrown garden was full of the whisper and scurry of smal lives. In the undergrowth a rat snake rubbed itself against a glistening stone.

The metaphor used to describe the monsoon rain conveys violence through the verb "slammed," and this is further reinforced through the simile that compares its force to gunfire. Note the onomatopoeia in creating rather a sinister tone with the "whisper and scurry" of all the small animals in a setting that is described as "wild" and "overgrown." Such strong descriptive writing creates a mood that is unsettling and disturbing, revealing the turmoil within Rahel that clearly stems back to the horrendous events when she was a child. Such an introduction sets the tone of the entire novel, as the reader is unsettled and on edge until he or she discovers what the act was that is able to still create such emotions in Rahel, years after it happened.


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