To what extent are race, social class and religion important?
I would say that Roy places a great deal of weight on how the social stratification of a nation can impact its people. The divisions caused by race, class, and religion are ones that occupy important roles in the novel because they help to isolate individuals from fully understanding one another. The notion of individuals being "trapped," precluding them from fully embracing the condition of another is something that is brought out in the novel. This is brought on by the social stratification that lock individuals into roles that define their identity. When the upholding of the caste system prompts a father to kill his son, or when social transgressions reveal the harshest of punishments, the structures that demand such adherence are critical to individual identity. It is to this extent that Roy depicts race, class, caste, and religion as vitally important elements that define individuals and in doing so, raises the point that perhaps this structure needs to change.