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Taboos And Love Laws In "The God Of Small Things" By Arundhati Roy .

2193 words - 9 pages

Taboos exist in all societies; they are the conventions that govern behaviour and conduct. The basic definition of taboo is: "Any conventional social restriction" (Webster's New World Dictionary 600). This characterizes what is meant by a taboo very clearly, but, taboos are not always universal; they change with time and place. Furthermore, taboos may exist in all societies but are not recognized nor are violators prosecuted the same in all. Usually, the various classifications of taboos are either cultural or religious. For instance, many European cultures share the same taboos, whereas North America, Asia, and the other continents have their own. Conversely, many Christian religious groups have taboos that contrast with other religious groups' behavioural laws. However, regardless of region or origin, the breaking of taboos is seen as an unacceptable behaviour in all cultures and carries a considerable societal or legal punishment. In her novel, The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy explicitly depicts numerous transgressions against taboos and what she identifies as the "Love Laws", both specifically cultural and universal.All cultures and societies have taboos that do not extend across the world. Western culture has many prohibitions that are perfectly acceptable in other societies. For example, both police corruption and domestic violence are serious taboos in western culture but are common occurrences in third world cultures. Police corruption runs rampant in most developing countries. Pay-offs are not only widespread but also anticipated. Brutality is a familiar event. In addition, fabrication for personal or political purposes is unchecked. Roy reveals this in her depiction of Inspector Thomas Mathew as a calculating, fraudulent pillar of society. He is unwilling to look at the truth if it will condemn his own motives and actions. Roy presents this when Ammu comes to him to save Velutha,"...When Ammu went to him tell him that a mistake had been made and he tapped her breasts with his baton, it was not a policeman's spontaneous brutishness on his part. He knew exactly what he was doing. It was a premeditated gesture, calculated to humiliate and terrorize her. An attempt to instil order into a world gone wrong." (Roy 246)Domestic violence is another crime that is treated very differently by diverse cultures. Again, western society has strict laws regarding domestic violence, whereas many developing countries do not. In many of these third world cultures, domestic violence is an ordinary event and, in all likelihood, probable. Roy expresses this with the familiar way that she describes the abuse in Ammu's childhood and married life. The abuse of both herself and her mother is paralleled in her marriage with her husband's brutality against the twins and herself.On the other hand, most of the taboos that Roy unveils in The God of Small Things are universal and are recognized in all cultures. The sanctity of the church and religion is one...

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