Arundhati Roy has had the advantage of being brought up with great freedom to develop her individual interests and strengths. Her mother, a social activist, founded her own school and let her daughter learn informally, which allowed Roy to follow her inclinations and listen to her inner voice without being bound by restrictive rules. It is this unique voice that lifts The God of Small Things beyond the category of mainstream novel to a work of art. As arresting as the action is in the novel, it is the element of style, in this case an idiosyncratic voice for the seven-year-old twins who largely narrate the story, which continues to captivate and enchant the reader from beginning to end.
This remarkable voice is present in the first important scene in the novel, the funeral of Sophie Mol, a cousin to the twins Rahel and Estha. During the funeral service, a small bat climbs up the sari of Baby Kochamma, the twins’ great-aunt, and when the bat reaches her flesh, Baby Kochamma screams. Roy describes the event as follows: “The singing stopped for a ’Whatisit? Whathappened?’ and for a Furrywhirring and a Sariflapping.” In this passage, Roy runs words together, rhymes gerunds, and records the event as it might have been understood by the children. These techniques, as well as some invented words, are used throughout the book and are just some of the odd uses of language that give the prose its magical, fairy-tale quality.
(The entire section is 1741 words.)
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