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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Family

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 nie...

Society and Class

The characters in The God of Small Things are constantly coming up against the forces of society and class. Indian society was structured for centuries according to very rigid social classes and bo...

Versions of Reality

Throughout The God of Small Things, we get to see how things look from different characters' points of view – different versions of the same reality. We see Estha and Rahel at two very differ...

Memory and the Past

Time in The God of Small Things doesn't unfold in a linear way; we don't start at Point A and watch the story progress until we get to Point B. Instead, we move back and forth between 1969 and 1993...

Guilt and Blame

Guilt and blame are a tricky duo in this book, lurking around every corner. Some really horrible things happen here: Estha is molested; Sophie Mol drowns; a family breaks apart. Even though the nar...

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 certai...

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...

Fear

In a novel in which so many bad things happen, it's not all that surprising that fear comes to the forefront. It's hard to think of even one character who doesn't demonstrate fear at some point. Th...

Identity

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: th...

Mortality

Mortality, or death, resonates throughout The God of Small Things. We find out from the very beginning that Sophie Mol is going to die, and our anticipation of and eventual reaction to her death ke...
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