Self Alienation To Self Adjustment: Arundhati Roy’s The God Of Small Things And Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance Of Loss

2370 words - 10 pages

The dominant idiom of Indian writing today is firmly entrenched in pain, anxiety of displacement, nostalgia, yearning to belong to roots, and so on. Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things and Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss are two such novels that explore the tragedy of man on several levels using different perspectives. Both the novels are about averted culture-clash tragedies, homogeneity vs. heterogeneity, and about Indian sensibilities.
This paper attempts to examine the fictional projections of Indian girls, to see how they emerge in ideological terms. Their journeys from self-alienation to self-adjustment, their childhood struggles against the hypocrisies and monstrosities of the grown-up world, eventually demolishing the unjust male constructed citadels of power that hinder their progress- are the highlighted issues. The point of comparison between the two novels focused on here is the journey of Rahel in The God of Small Things and Sai in The Inheritance from a lonely childhood to a tragic adulthood passing through a struggle with the complex forces of patriarchal society. Both the novels portray the imaginativeness, inventiveness, independence, rebelliousness, wide-eyed wonder and innocence associated with these young girls.
Alienation from the adult world is an important underlying theme in both novels. The God of Small Things is the story of the fraternal twins, Estha and Rahel and their unhappy, fractured family. Both the children experience a sense of alienation from their family. As children of “a divorced daughter from an intercommunity love marriage,”(Roy 45) they had no rights in their grandparents’ rigid, caste-conscious, orthodox, patriarchal, Syrian-Christian family in the rural town of Ayemenem in Kerala. The story of the novel is narrated mainly as it unfolds before the twins’ eyes. Through flashbacks and foreshadowing, it shifts from childhood to adulthood, down to the two dark, central intertwined events of the story. These events- the drowning of their cousin-Sophie Mol and a secret love affair between their mother Ammu and Velutha, an untouchable – separate the twins and bring death to both their mother and her lover. The truth and terror of these events haunt the rest of their life, from which they achieve redemption only as adults.
Desai in The Inheritance emphasizes the ideas of transmissions and inheritance. Loss can be transmitted from person to person or society to society. It is not an excuse but a complicated moral picture. Her seventeen year old protagonist Sai Mistry partakes of the sigh of love and fatalism as well as the mist and mystery that dominate the atmosphere of Kanchenjunga. Waiting for her Maths tutor Gyan, Sai contemplates the giant squid’s solitude and melancholy. “Could fulfilment ever be as deeply as loss?” She decides that love resides in the lack, not the contentment, hence the inheritance of loss for Sai, who has been orphanaged in many ways.
The pertinent question emerging...

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