Note: Here we present the events of the novel in chronological order – not the order in which we read them.
The family goes to Cochin to pick up Margaret Kochamma and Sophie Mol from the airport. On the way, Estha is molested, Rahel wonders whether her mother still loves her, and we see Velutha marching with communists.
Everything explodes around the same time: Vellya Paapen reveals that Velutha and Ammu are having an affair, and Sophie Mol drowns in the river.
Estha is Returned; Ammu gets sick and eventually dies; and Rahel bounces around aimlessly until she is reunited with Estha at the age of 31.