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The Role Of The History House In The God Of Small Things By Arundhati Roy

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This essay discusses the significance of the History House in Arundhati Roy’s ‘The God of Small things’. The novel ‘The God of Small Things’ narrates about the twins’ childhood experience whose lives were ruined by the “love laws” that stipulated how and who should be loved. The book explores how the small things affect people’s behaviour and their lives. This essay will put specific focus in History in Roy’s novel. The History House in its originality is a phrase given to the children by Chacko while explaining the concept of history, he explains to them how they are all an Anglophile family. The narrator uses the history house as a metaphor to show how the Indians were alienated from their own past due to the colonization by the British and which stipulated foreign ideals and alienated Indians from indigenous practices, customs and beliefs. “To understand history, Chako said, we have to go inside and listen to what they are saying and look at the books and pictures on the wall and smell the smells”. The history house in this sense can be understood as a symbolic depiction of India’s history. The narrator in Chapter 18, titled ‘the history house’ narrates about the brutality that the Indians faced during the colonial period, the police tortured the Indians, and this still happens as the twins are asleep and the police and beat Veluta and take all the toys for their own kids. The police don not only beat Veluta up, but they also cuff and drag him after savagely beating him up, they are so proud that they have saved the twins from the untouchable. This shows how oppressive this was, thus the history still affects the Indians in the present.

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The children misunderstand the use of the history house as a metaphor. “Estha and Rahel, the children, were persuaded in their own requirement for understanding the idea and distinguishing it with something to plan a changeless memory of it, that the History House was in reality the house on the other side of the river. Kari Saipu’s home. Kari Saipu, the man who had shot himself and the house had been left abandoned for quite a long time. This was a place where they were never expected to go”. The children confused the actual history of India with the notion of the actual history house where they weren’t allowed to go to. The children understood this ‘history house’ as a place where even the protagonist was allowed to go since she may also had been alienated too. The novel actually speaks about India’s history which they may never forget, of course colonization was traumatic and therefore it is not easy for one to just forget about it. Taking into consideration that the police savagely beat Veluta in the twin’s horror, one may say that the colonialist oppression still exist in the present, it is still effective and thus the history of the India repeats its self in this sense. A majestic hotel with a dark history is reflected in the present history house. In this sense one may say that the history house metaphor is still in effect in the Indian nation.

The traumatic history that the Indian went through during the British colonialism is still affecting many lives of India. Taking the issue of colonization on may argue that the colonizers torture and leaves a permanent scar the colonized. In this novel, the protagonist with the use of the history house reflects that the harm that was done by the colonizers in their lives is has found an immortal place in their minds as they always remember the horrific incidents imposed by the British colonizers. The narrator narrates to the children about India’s History and he uses the metaphor of the History house which depicts loneliness and the feeling of being excluded from the legal system and expected to be submissive and lose your own indigenous norms and follow those of the colonizer. All in all, the process of colonization walks hand in hand with violence and torture “They didn’t know it then, that they would soon go in. That they would cross the river and be where they weren’t supposed to be, with a man they weren’t supposed to love. That they would watch with dinner-plate eyes as history revealed itself to them in the back verandah”. Roy gives an ideal clarification of the catastrophe and the significance of the History House using this quote. The unavoidable catastrophe that falls upon these children, on Ammu, on Velutha, we feel it profoundly in light of the fact that these are for the most part individuals. Before the finish of the novel we hate certain characters, empathize with specific characters, feel sorry for on a few and afterward detest some of them. We feel all of these because we are all human beings, we understand the pain that colonialism gives to people.

01 February 2021

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