The God of Small Things
by Arundhati Roy
The God of Small Things Theme of Love
"OK," you yawn, "another book with love as a theme. Can't anyone write anything different?" Well, friends, it's true, The God of Small Things is about love. The novel puts it right out there on the table, repeatedly invoking the "Love Laws" that dictate "who should be loved, and how. And how much" (1.209-210). Love and rules are constantly butting heads in the book. Ammu and Velutha's love is forbidden because of their caste (social status) differences. Rahel and Estha's love is expressed physically at the end of the book, resulting in the taboo of incest. Mammachi's feelings toward her son, Chacko, also blur the lines between familial and romantic love. (See "Family" under "Quotes by Theme.") And Baby Kochamma is in love with Father Mulligan, a priest who can never marry. In The God of Small Things, love constantly violates social rules.
Questions About Love
- In what ways do you think Baby Kochamma would have been different if she had loved someone other than Father Mulligan?
- Are there any examples of love in this novel that is both successful and socially acceptable?
- When the narrator discusses Rahel's "list" (6.214), we learn that it shows how she is constantly torn between "love" and "duty" – who she really loves and who she's supposed to love. Who are the people who truly love one another in the book?
- Name three examples of love that violates the "Love Laws" – i.e., examples of people who love each other but aren't "supposed" to.
Chew on This
The God of Small Things is about what happens when love is thwarted and not allowed to flourish.
Love that breaks "The Love Laws" is the only successful love.