The God of Small Things
Guilt and Blame Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
But worst of all, [Estha] carried inside him the memory of a young man with an old man's mouth. The memory of a swollen face and a smashed, upside-down smile. Of a spreading pool of clear liquid with a bare bulb reflected in it. Of a bloodshot eye that had opened, wandered, and then fixed its gaze on him. Estha. And what had Estha done? He looked into that beloved face and said: Yes. (1.202)
At this point in the book, we still aren't sure what this quote is referring to (Estha's betrayal of Velutha). We do get the overwhelming sense that Estha has been burdened with guilt for an extraordinarily long time for answering "yes" to a question to which he (and we) can be sure he should have said "no."
"Ammu," Rahel said, "shall I miss dinner as my punishment?"
She was keen to exchange punishments. No dinner, in exchange for Ammu loving her the same as before. (4.260)
When Ammu tells Rahel that hurting others' feelings causes them to love you a little less, Rahel feels extremely guilty for speaking carelessly. She tries to take punishment wherever she can to make up for what she's done. The guilt she feels haunts her through Sophie Mol's visit, pressing her to watch Sophie and Ammu closely to make sure that Ammu doesn't start loving Sophie more.
So eventually, though she knew that her friends and colleagues at the school would think it odd – her running back to her first husband just as soon as her second one had died – Margaret Kochamma broke her term deposit and bought two airline tickets. London-Bombay-Cochin.
She was haunted by that decision for as long as she lived. (13.91-92).
This is the kind of thing that anyone would tell Margaret not to blame herself for. How could she have known that Sophie Mol would die in Ayemenem? And yet everyone feels this kind of regret at some point. When was the last time something went wrong and you said to yourself, "if only I hadn't...?"