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The God of Small Things

The God of Small Things


by Arundhati Roy

The God of Small Things Theme of Innocence

One of the most interesting aspects of The God of Small Things is how the narrator helps us see and understand the world from a kid's perspective. This ranges from everyday things (like what certain words mean) to the most shocking and horrific events imaginable (like Sophie Mol's death). Usually when we think about innocence, we think about a world of simplicity. When you're innocent, what you don't know can't hurt you – you can be blissfully naïve. This book puts a different spin on innocence – here, it's not about what Estha and Rahel don't know, but rather the way they make sense of what they do know, see, or experience.

Estha and Rahel, both separately and together, lose their innocence throughout the course of the novel. One of the most touching aspects of Estha's loss of innocence – when he is molested, and when he is forced to condemn Velutha – is how he tries to prevent the same thing from happening to Rahel. While both children undergo a loss of innocence through painful experiences, Estha is the more profoundly affected of the two. He watches his world change and tries to prevent his sister from having to share that experience.

Questions About Innocence

  1. Do you think Estha knows what's happening when the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man molests him, or do you think it only sinks in later?
  2. Why do you think Estha tries so hard to protect Rahel from harsh realities like his molestation and Velutha's death?
  3. Is Estha's loss of innocence a process, or is there one single event that marks it?
  4. In what ways does Rahel's innocence affect the way she looks at the world as a child?

Chew on This

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

By portraying the twins as cute and innocent, the narrator shows us that they don't fully understand what's happening around them.

Portraying the twins as cute and innocent helps emphasize how horrible the events happening to them are.

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