The God of Small Things Themes

Themes

The seeming illogic of what is allowed and what is not allowed by this particular culture is explored to a great extent on several levels. This includes the double standard of the treatment of women, as Mammachi enables Chacko's sexual exploits while denouncing Ammu's sexuality. Also, the juxtaposition of Ammu's marriage to an Indian and Chacko's marriage to an Englishwoman and the resulting favor that Chacko receives provides commentary on the poor treatment that women receive within this family's culture. This issue is also complicated because, ironically, it is the females in the family that dole out this inconsistent treatment. They seem to value Chacko precisely because of their own powerlessness to move outside of their small circle of influence. This powerlessness, of course, is due to their gender and the subsequent dependence on the male members of the family for freedom and protection. Chacko replaces Pappachi in influence and therefore Mammachi's devotion must shift from Pappachi to Chacko. Ammu's denunciation by Baby Kochamma stems from Ammu's choice of freedom over family. Upon Ammu's subsequent refusal to maintain her marriage and her return to the family in Ayemenem, she is viewed as a failure as a wife, the proper role for a female. Therefore her value in the family is lowered. Chacko, although also divorced, is seen as the protector, a role that he continues to maintain, and therefore he is viewed as a success within the family. He also accepts the...

(The entire section is 492 words.)

The God of Small Things Themes

Indian History and Politics
Indian history and politics shape the plot and meaning of The God of Small Things in a variety of ways. Some of Roy’s commentary is on the surface, with jokes and snippets of wisdom about political realities in India. However, the novel also examines the historical roots of these realities and develops profound insights into the ways in which human desperation and desire emerge from the confines of a firmly entrenched caste society. Roy reveals a complex and longstanding class conflict in the state of Kerala India and she comments on its various competing forces.

For example, Roy’s novel attacks the brutal, entrenched, and systematic oppression at work in Kerala, exemplified by figures of power such as Inspector Thomas Mathew. Roy is also highly critical of the hypocrisy and ruthlessness of the conventional, traditional moral code of Pappachi and Mammachi. On the opposite side of the political fence, the Kerala Communist Party, at least the faction represented by Comrade Pillai, is revealed to be much more concerned with personal ambition than with any notions of social justice.

Class Relations and Cultural Tensions
In addition to her commentary on Indian history and politics, Roy evaluates the Indian post-colonial complex, or the cultural attitudes of many Indians towards their former British rulers. After Ammu calls her father a “[sh——t]-wiper” in Hindi for his blind devotion to the British, Chacko explains to the twins that they come from a...

(The entire section is 646 words.)