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The Significance Of The History House In Arundhati Roy's The God Of Small Things

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‘The God of Small Things’ is a semi-autobiographical novel, a debut novel and only novel written the by the popular Indian author- activists, Arundhati Roy. The novel is centered on the twins Rahel and Esthappen, who part in their youth and united later in their thirties. The novel deals with family and social obligation, Indian politics, society and class, love and sexuality. The novel is about small changes caused by small things that lead to big things which later leads to big changes. The essay will discuss the significance of the History House in Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. The History House in the novel is an abandoned house which was previously own by an English man who ‘went native’. The history house is a haven for both the twin Estha and Rahel, the place the twins visit to hide away from cruelty and to find solace from one another. The history house is a symbol of preservation from the changes occurring throughout the novel. Even though later in the novel the house converts to a hotel the history house remains forever a history house in people’s mind. The history house’s significance is embedded on the things people do not wish to see changing. In the novel Ammu, the twins’ mother marries and has a divorce later on because of her alcoholic husband and being an unreliable human being. Ammu returns home after her divorce which brings disgrace to herself and her family, this is because Indian societies at the time divorce was a foreign notion brought by the colonial powers of Britain. Divorce was a foreign concept to Indian society, who believed the husband close to the status of God, thus a wife expected to remain forever with her husband as husband could do nothing wrong as God apparently never does. In Ammu’s case she was to remain with her husband regardless of the way he treated her.

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The way Baba, Ammu’s husbanding seen as normal as most woman suffer through in the name of preserving the family reputation an avoiding bring stigma upon the family name by revealing secrets. Mammachi for example stays with her Pappachi even though he abuses the family by using violence on his family. Mammachi remains faithful and a dutiful wife and even represent a united front in front of the society this keeping the horror within the family. The history house is a representation of traditions the people would not let go of. In the novel Vella Paapen, Velutha’s father who is an untouchable, basically kills his own son by making the Ipe family privy of Ammu and Velutha’s affair. Velutha’s father offers his son’s life to keep up the tradition of keeping classes and caste from getting intimate and by keeping the tradition. Vella Paapen loves his son and values his son but for the sake of wanting to keep the society standard gives up his son fully knowing the consequence that will fall upon his son’s action all with keeping up with the old ways. The police men in the novel beat up Velutha to the point of killing him without knowing the full story or verifying if he committed the deed he is accused (kidnapping the children and raping Amu). The police men are not preserving the law, it more like the police men are protecting the way of life where the touchable and the untouchable do not interact with each other. Arundhati Roy in novel shows this cruelty to try an display that people care about is preserving the status quo or keeping face more than human life, which brings about a question to their morality. Baby Kochamma implicates Velutha for the sole reason of preserving the family name in the society, the reason being she does not want to stain the family name by associating with the servant or in this case the person of lower class, the untouchable. Roy here displays that changes are inevitable because as much as the Indian society tries to rebel against the ways of the British colonialism, the Indian society has adopted the way people are grouped according to the classes and hierarchy of nobility which was used in Britain.

01 February 2021

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