Sectarian and Sexual Lines in Indian Writing in English
Chapter 13: The Female Body in Jouissance: Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things
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The Female Body in Jouissance: Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things
Forbidden Love with an Untouchable1 Youth
Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things (1997), a Booker Prize winner, deals with the tragic love between Ammu, a high-caste Syrian Christian divorcee, and Velutha, an untouchable youth, through Ammu’s twins’ eyes. It is set in the state of Kerala in southwest India, where harsh discrimination against untouchables exists. The story begins with Rahel’s coming home to Ayemenem and seeing her twin brother, Estha, after twenty-three years’ separation. The story often goes back and forth, relating how the fatal events which happened twenty-three years earlier robbed them of their innocent childhood and traumatized them, that is, when Sophie, the twins’ cousin, is found dead by drowning, Velutha is arrested on an unfounded suspicion and beaten to death, and Ammu is thrown out of her home and dies without anyone attending her. Estha is sent back to his father and withdraws into himself without talking with anyone, while Rahel, suffering from a feeling of emptiness, acts in a defiant manner. In the final two chapters, two forbidden unions against the “Love Laws” (the twins’ incestuous one, and Ammu and Velutha’s, which violates a Hindu taboo) are described, and the story ends with Ammu’s pledge to meet again, “‘Tomorrow’” (340). The twins’ love is connected to the ineluctable fate of their separation while growing up, and behind Ammu’s love ← 177 | 178 →lurks her...
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