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Themes

The God of Small Things is probably more than anything else a novel about family. It explores the relationship between brother and sister, mother and child, grandparent and grandchild, aunt and niece/nephew, and cousins. It looks at the ways families are forced to stick together and also how they fall apart. Unconditional family love is a major issue on the table here. Sometimes we feel obligated to love our family members. On the other hand, just because you're related to someone doesn't mean you'll love them or that they'll have your back. Just like in real life, family relationships in the novel can be complicated, confusing, and frustrating.

Questions About Family

  1. How do you think Chacko feels about Ammu at the beginning of the book? In the middle? At the end?
  2. Rahel seems to think of Chacko as something of a surrogate, or substitute, dad. How do you think Chacko feels about Estha and Rahel? What examples support your view?
  3. Why do you think Vellya Paapen is willing to kill Velutha? What does this say about the importance of social rules versus family bonds?
  4. We get a glimpse into the perspective of most characters through the novel. Why do you think we learn so little about Baba, Estha and Rahel's father?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

In The God of Small Things, "family" refers to people obligated to each other because of blood, regardless of whether or not they actually care about one another.

In The God of Small Things, "family" refers to the people one cares about.

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