The God of Small Things Questions and Answers
by Arundhati Roy

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Why was Velutha arrested?

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The novel The God of Small Things is author Arundhati Roy's most well-known work, published in 1997. The story is centered on a Syrian family living in southern India from the 1960s to the 1990s. 

In the Indian caste system, Velutha is a paravan— an untouchable. He works for Mammachi's Paradise Pickles and Preserves factory as a repairman, and he and Ammu, who is above him in the caste system, eventually have a forbidden affair. When Velutha's father discovers the affair and tells everyone, Baby Kochamma and Mammachi trap Ammu in her room, and Mammachi fires Velutha. 

Velutha is beaten and arrested by the police because Baby Kochamma falsely reports to the police that Velutha tried to rape Ammu. Baby Kochamma also liess and says that Velutha kidnapped Rahel, Estha, and Sophie Mol, when in reality the 3 children ran away on their own. Tragically, Velutha dies at the police station because he was beaten so brutally.

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Velutha (which, ironically intended by Roy, means "white" in Malayalam, Kerala's most widely spoken language) was accused for the drowning of the twins' young cousin, Sophie Mol. Sophie, being half Caucasian and half Indian, was always praised for her light skin and hair, opposed to Ammu's children, both dark-haired and dark-skinned. The true reason behind Velutha's arrest, however, is the very fact that, although an "untouchable", a pariah, an outcast who should never mingle with others but the members of his own caste, he dared to befriend Ammu and her children and later become even Ammu's lover. He crossed the limits set by a part of the Indian society which does not tolerate equality and was punished for that.