The God of Small Things

by Arundhati Roy
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Discuss satire and irony in The God of Small Things.

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In this excellent novel Arundhati Roy seems to turn her rapier-like wit and intellect on many aspects of modern Indian life, as well as traditional Indian life. You might like to consider how she variously satirises the caste system, the British Raj and British involvement in India, Communism, globalisation and development. These are just some of the targets that she demolishes.

One of the more amusing examples for me is seen in Chapter One when Rahel returns to her old family home and sees the transformation that buying a satellite dish has wrought in Baby Kochamma and how old serials and poor-quality television now dominate her life. Now she has the satellite dish, we are told that "She presided over the World in her drawing room on satellite TV." Note how the description continues:

Blondes, wars, famines, football, sex, music, coups d'etat--they all arrived on the same train. They unpacked together. They stayed at the same hotel... And so, while her ornamental garden wilted and died, Baby Kochamma followed American NBA league games, one-day cricket and all the Grand Slam tennis tournaments. On weekdays she watched The Bold and the Beautiful and Santa Barbara, where brittle blondes with lipstick and hairstyles rigid with spray seduced androids and defended their sexual empires.

Note how both American shows are satirised by their characterisation as women "defending their sexual empires" but also the way that Roy comments on the global American culture that is beamed in to so many homes in the developing world and gives such a distorted impression of life and the world and, in turn, distorts the lives of those who watch such shows.

Having looked at this example, you might want to pick another from the list I gave you in the first paragraph and consider how Roy satirises that aspect of the novel. Good luck!

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