This section was extremely rich in detail and symbols. I know that only reading it once is not nearly enough to grasp the importance and understanding of everything. I would like to discuss two things that really stuck out to me.
- Ammu’s Dream
Last week we started talking about Ammu and the relationship between her body and her cremation. Roy delves further into analyzing Ammu’s body during Chapter 11. She dreams of the one armed man (Velutha) that she cannot touch. The ultimate struggle in her dream is that “If he touched her he couldn’t talk to her, if he loved her he couldn’t leave; if he spoke he couldn’t listen, if he fought he couldn’t win” (p. 207). The first problem with their desire was that they could not touch each other. This brings in the obvious caste difference because of Velutha being a dalit. The other aspects of their relationship presented in this quote (love, communication, future success of the relationship) are not given much attention. The physical barrier is too strong to overcome. Also at this point in the novel, the most interaction that we have seen between Ammu and Velutha was eye connect and unvoiced desire.
Ammu’s dream is interrupted by the twins. But they are afraid to directly wake her up because “she says you should never wake dreaming people suddenly…she says they could easily have a Heart Attack” (p. 207). She is dreaming about her physical reaction to Velutha while the twins are concerned about her physical reaction to them. I believe that Roy brought extra attention to Heart Attack because of it would be a physical death to her being as well as a romantic death to her dream of Velutha. *Pappachi died of a heart attack (p. 49).
The twin’s reaction to their mother’s dream is also important. Estha thought that she looked like she was dying but Rahel was certain that she was having an “afternoon-mare” (p. 208). To her children, she appeared sad and distressed during her dream even though she felt happy. I felt like this was an accurate description of pending relationship with Velutha. Love should bring happiness but between Velutha and Ammu it is bound to bring death and sadness.
QUESTION ONE: After the dream she recognizes that the one armed man, Velutha, was “the God of Loss, the God of Small Things” (p. 210). Why are loss and Ammu and Velutha’s affair classified as a “small things” in this novel?
2. The details of the deaths in the novel
All of the deaths in this novel involved destruction or disfiguration of the body. As I previously noted, Pappachi died of a heart attack. The physical demolition surrounding his death was that which he inflicted on other bodies, not his own. He beat Mammachi and when he could no longer do that he destroyed his favorite rocking chair. As the novel continues, the family does not escape the trend of deadly destruction that he started. We have already spent a decent amount of time discussing Ammu’s death and cremation. Not only is her body decimated but so is her capability to invoke desire and lust. Sins of the body paid for by erasing her body.
But in Chapter 13, we finally learn the details of Sophie Mol’s death, the most central one to the narrative. When her body was laid out, “it was obvious that she was dead” and did not look like her living self (p. 238). She had weeds in her hair, her face had been nibbled on by the fish, and she was wrinkled. She was completely disfigured. Her drowning had transformed her into a “spongy mermaid who had forgotten how to swim” (p. 238). The body that was hers now belonged to death.
QUESTION TWO: Do you think that the details of these deaths classify as small things? Why do you think that Roy primarily used tragic and non-normative deaths?