The God of Small Things

The God of Small Things


Set in Ayemenem, Kerala, India, "The God of Small Things" explores the lives of fraternal twins Rahel and Esthappen (Estha) as they navigate childhood and reunite after a traumatic past. The story weaves back and forth between the pivotal year of 1969, where a single tragic week alters their lives irrevocably, and 1993 when they are reunited as adults.

At the center of the plot are the "Love Laws" – societal rules that enforce who should be loved and how much. These laws dictate the strict caste system that permeates Indian society, with devastating consequences within their family.  The family's dynamics are complex: an abusive grandfather, a strong-willed yet heartbroken mother (Ammu), a fiercely protective uncle (Chacko), and a manipulative great-aunt (Baby Kochamma).

The novel highlights a forbidden relationship between Ammu, of a higher caste, and Velutha, an Untouchable (Dalit) craftsman. Their brief moments of shared joy, those small things, set in motion a domino effect of events leading to an unthinkable tragedy. This transgression of the Love Laws leaves a gaping wound that reverberates throughout the lives of the twins and those around them.

Key Themes

- The Impact of Societal Structures: The novel delves into the devastating impact of rigid caste systems, class divides, and outdated social norms. These forces shape relationships, limit opportunities, and dictate life outcomes.

- Trauma and Its Aftermath: The book explores how past traumatic experiences echo through time, scarring individuals and reshaping relationships.

- The Power of Small Things: Seemingly small events, decisions, and words hold enormous weight, capable of setting off a ripple effect of joy, tragedy, or lasting consequences.

- Love, Loss, and Grief: The novel portrays a heart-wrenching tapestry of love found and lost, and grapples with the complexities of grief and survival.


Arundhati Roy's language is both lyrical and jarring. The narrative shifts timelines and perspectives, mirroring the fragmented experience of trauma and memory.

Why It's Important

"The God of Small Things" is a powerful indictment of societal inequalities and the devastating consequences of prejudice. It is a haunting and beautifully written novel that won the prestigious Booker Prize in 1997 and continues to challenge readers with its nuanced exploration of love, loss, and the lingering impact of small actions.