In chapter 4 we encounter the scene with Estha and Orangedrink Lemondrink Man. This scene in the novel is a pivotal point in Estha’s life which has forever impacted him. The man molests Estha behind the counter of the concessions stand at the movie theater while Rahel, Ammu, and Baby Kochamma are in the theater watching The Sound of Music. Estha goes out of the theater because he is disrupting the audience with his singing. This scene could be seen as one of the roots to Estha’s “mute-ness” throughout adulthood because before he was molested he acted the total opposite, loud, happy, and talkative. After the encounter with Orangedrink Lemondrink man, Estha is literally sick to his stomach and haunted by the memories. Rahel even senses that something happened between Estha and the man because of her strange twin connection with Estha. When Ammu talks positively of Orangedrink Lemondrink man, instead of telling Ammu about her strange feelings about the man, she replies that Ammu should marry him since she likes him so much. Ammu explains that when people try to hurt other people, they will love you less. This moment is also scarring to Rahel because throughout the next few chapters she refers to the idea that her mother “loves her less”. She even asks Chacko if it is possible that Ammu love Sophie Mol more than her and Estha, to which he replies that it is possible because of “Human Nature”.
With the arrival of Sophie Mol in chapter 6 we start to see how excitied everyone is to meet Chacko’s ex-wife and daughter. The narrator describes Sophie Mol as having “bluegrayblue” eyes and having pale-skin. She also has beautiful red-brown hair and her grandfather (Pappachi’s) nose (pg 137). This section to me was because it shows that Margaret and Sophie Mol were Rahel’s family’s way to stay connected to the western world. Other than Chacko’s experience in college in England or Baby Kochamma’s obsession with watching t.v., the family has little exposure to anything other than their own culture. Chacko even still refers to Margaret as his “wife”, only to quickly be corrected that she is his “ex” wife. Sophie Mol is so intriguing to Rahel and her family because she embodies both foreign and familiarity. She is different and the same. So when Sophie Mol dies, so does the family’s ties to the western world.
The river in chapter 5 is significant because it represents many different elements in the story. People swim in it, travel on it, or even defecate in it (which explains the foul smell). However people around the area call it “god’s own country” (pg 120). The author goes onto say in this section, “…because they knew, those clever Hotel people, that smelliness, like other peoples’ poverty, was merely a matter of getting used to. A question of discipline. Of Rigor and Air-conditioning. Nothing more,” (pg 120). This to me highlights the themes of “untouchables”. Throughout the novel the term has been brought up every now and again to highlight social hierarchy within this particular culture. Like people in poverty, although seen as people, are nothing more than a “smell” to get used to.
1. At the end of chapter 6 we see, yet again, another reference to an insect, similar to that of a moth. Why does an insect like a moth/butterfly keep popping up in this novel and what could the they possibly represent?
2. Why is Rahel’s family so focused to making a good impression of Sophie Mol and why do they care so much about what she thinks of their culture/India in general?