The God of Small Things

by Arundhati Roy

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What is the meaning of the following passage from chapter 11 of The God of Small Things?

"Chinks of afternoon light stole into the room through the curtains and fell on Ammu’s tangerine-shaped transistor radio that she always took with her to the river. Tangerine-shaped too, was the Thing that Estha carried into The Sound of Music in his sticky Other Hand.

Bright bars of sunlight brightened Ammu’s tangled hair. She waited, under the skin of her dream, not wanting to let her children in.

'She says you should never wake dreaming people suddenly,' Rahel said. 'She says they could easily have a Heart Attack.'"

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This passage talks about Ammu dreaming of a one-armed man who can only do one thing at a time; she half-wakes from her dream and can sense her children there, trying to decide whether they should wake her.

The man Ammu is dreaming of is Velutha; he works for her family. In this dream, she recognizes the significance of the God of Small Things. When her children wake her, she spends a moment still suspended in the dream. She's halfway between the real world and the dream world. When she finally fully wakes and sees her children, the connection between Velutha and the God of Small Things forms in her mind.

The passage is significant because it helps her make that connection. With the dream still on her, she's able to see the signs that her children had been visiting Velutha. If she had been focused on other things and not had the dream—or if she had woken up in another way and wasn't forced to think of Velutha so quickly—she might not have understood.

Because Ammu does fall in love with Velutha—and because it ultimately leads to both their downfalls—this is one of the most significant moments in the novel. Though Velutha is untouchable, he has a great deal of value, worth, and power, which is shown through Ammu's dream.

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