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the grotesque permeates the story from the very begining, when rahel imagines the ceiling painter dying on the floor, "blood spilling from his skull like a secret." we learn later that this is Velutha, dying alone and wrongfully accused in the police station. the grotesque takes precedence throughout the story as it is not allowed to do so by the characters. that is, it is the manifestation of the ugly secrets that the family refuses to acknowledge, and since they are forbidden to be acknowledged openly, they are forced to seep into the world of "small things" through language, dreams, and daydreams. two repeating grotesque are of velutha's broken body and sophie mol's drowned corpse. they are the proverbial skeleton in the family's closet, willed to be non-existent but unable to be forgotten. therefore they become macabre images that haunt the characters, especially rahel and estha. also, sex and violence are connected in a grotesque way in the novel. the first instance of this combination is in estha's molestation; his first sexual experience is a terrifying violation. and when it is safe on the river bank, ammu's and velutha's affair is crystallized and beautiful, but once it is discovered, it quickly becomes associated with violent death. finally, when estha and rahela make love, their incest is grotesque. arundhati roy potrays the act of love making as beautiful, but it is made bizarre by the fact that rahel and estha are siblings--twins, no less--and that they are doing so out of 'hideous grief." it is as though in order to overcome all their grotesque secrets, rahel and estha must perform a grotesque act.
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