The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

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Topics for Further Study

(Novels for Students)

  • Roy has published a great deal of political writing, has worked as an activist, and has been imprisoned for her political beliefs. Research her political views and activities, and read some of her political writings. How would you characterize Roy’s position on issues such as globalization and terrorism? What have been the results of her activism in India and around the world?
  • As an Indian novel written in English, The God of Small Things is part of a genre of literature stretching back to the days of the British Raj. Research the ways in which Roy’s novel relates to this tradition, which includes authors such as R. K. Narayan and Salman Rushdie. In what ways does Roy’s novel fit into this tradition, and in what ways does it belong outside of it? What innovations does Roy bring to Indian literature in English, and why are they important? How does Roy’s novel relate to Indian politics, and how is this similar or different to the ways in which the novels of her predecessors have related to Indian politics?
  • Some readers and critics have found elements of The God of mall Things offensive or controversial. Research the nature of the outcry against the novel, particularly in India and in Britain. Which aspects of the work were controversial, and why? What were the results of the controversy? Describe your reaction to moments of the novel such as when Estha is forced to masturbate the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man, when Ammu and Velutha make love, and when Rahel and Estha make love. Discuss how elements of the forbidden and the taboo relate to the central themes of the novel.
  • Communism has been a uniquely prominent force in the state of Kerala, India. Research the activities of the various factions of the Communist Party in Kerala. How did communism develop and spread in the region? What are the key ways in which communist thought has affected Kerala’s history? How does the history of the communist parties in Kerala relate to the history of communism throughout South Asia? Discuss the state of communism in Kerala today.