The God Of Small Things: A Plot Summary

1770 words - 7 pages

Although desire presents itself in many charged forms in The God of Small Things, we can view the plot of the narrative as a series of disrupted yet connected events that are propelled by, or a product of, individual resistance fuelled by a Desire to Transgress. This plot of individual resistance is represented through the female protagonist Ammu and her daughter Rahel, as a foil of her mother, and is most explicit in the ending of the novel, when they both commit sexual acts that violate the conditions imposed upon them by the power of their patriarchal society. Although developed somewhat subliminally, through language and symbolism, the fragmented conventions of this plot of desire to transgress (not to be confused with a plot of transgression), works to frame the sexual acts of the ending as the desired conclusion. The ending of the novel performs the function of settling this plot of desire by acting as an explicit manifestation of transgression in its ultimate form in the novel, an ultimate form which settles and creates a sense of contentment for the characters and the plot, whilst almost simultaneously problematising this calm with a literary undercurrent of suffering and punishment.

It is possible to view Ammu's desire to transgress in light of how Roy mystifies Ammu's ability to resist in small ways. We can see Ammu's resistance epitomized in the songs she plays on her `transistor shaped like a tangerine' (44):

Occasionally, when Ammu listened to songs she loved on the radio, something stirred inside her. A liquid ache spread under her skin, and she walked out of the world, like a witch, to a better, happier place (44)

It is interesting that the term `ache' is used, with its double entendre of dull pain and longing, gives it almost sexual connotations, particularly since it is `under her skin', it is perhaps as if Ammu aches for sexual contact, for the dangerous world of secrets and freedom where morality is `set aside'. On her `restless' (44) days, Ammu leaves Ayemenem House and spends `hours on the riverbank' (44), foreshadowing the ending, her sexual act of transgression with Velutha on a riverbank. It is significant that Ammu's minor act of rebellion with the radio and the sexual consummation of her attraction to Velutha are both tied to nature, and not the House, for it then enables us to interpret Ayemenem House as a symbol for patriarchal power. Ayemenem House is the site where Pappachi abused Mammachi and Ammu, as well as the site where Mammachi has a `separate entrance' (168) fitted for Chacko's sexual dalliances `the notion of Men's Need's gained implicit sanction in the Ayemenem House,'(168). Mammachi hence effectively demeans her own sex by stripping them of their identity and power, so that a woman just becomes `objects of his [Chacko's] `Needs'' (169). Mammachi hence herself enforces patriarchal norms, as does Baby Kochamma `Baby Kochamma resented Ammu, because she saw her quarrelling with a fate that she, Baby...

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