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The God of Small Things

The God of Small Things

by Arundhati Roy

Identity Theme

The question of identity ("Who am I?") is important to all the characters in The God of Small Things, but especially to Estha and Rahel. On one level, they have a very good idea of who they are: they are extensions of one another. When they are together, they are a whole being. Nevertheless, the more Estha and Rahel learn about the world around them, the more we see them taking on alternate identities and imagining themselves as someone else. Ambassador E. Pelvis, Ambassador Stick Insect, and The Airport Fairy are all versions of themselves they identify with in different situations. Part of what makes their reunion in 1993 so important is that for the first time in 23 years they can consider themselves whole again.

Questions About Identity

  1. How are different nicknames used in the book to identify different aspects of Rahel and Estha's personalities?
  2. Why do you think it might be important that Sophie Mol is half white and half Indian, rather than being all of one or the other?
  3. What are some of the ways in which identity and social class are inseparable?
  4. Why does Velutha claim to have a twin brother instead of admitting that it was him that Rahel saw in the march?

Chew on This

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

As kids, Estha and Rahel share one identity.

As kids, Estha and Rahel each have a separate identity that balances the other out.

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