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Quotes

Quote #1

Only Rahel noticed Sophie Mol's secret cartwheel in her coffin. (1.44)

This is Rahel's version of what happens at Sophie Mol's funeral. When Rahel seems to see something that other people don't, we enter a world that is completely hers.

Quote #2

When they lowered Sophie Mol's coffin into the ground in the little cemetery behind the church, Rahel knew that she still wasn't dead. She heard (on Sophie Mol's behalf) the softsounds of the red mud and the hardsounds of the orange laterite that spoiled the shining coffin polish. (1.46)

Seriously, when we first read this we had to stop and wonder for a second: is Sophie Mol really still alive? What clues us in that this might just be Rahel's version of reality is the way she seems to experience the burial herself – she hears the mud covering the coffin as though she's inside it. In order to do this, Rahel has to delve into her own imagination, where anything is possible.

Quote #3

Inside the earth Sophie Mol screamed, and shredded satin with her teeth. But you can't hear screams through earth and stone.

Sophie Mol died because she couldn't breathe.

Her funeral killed her. (1.48-50)

Isn't this a nightmare everyone has had at one point or another? Before we get totally sucked in to this moment and think, "She was buried alive! Oh, the humanity!" and tear out our hair, just take a second to think – is this something the narrator reports objectively, or are we still seeing the funeral through Rahel's eyes?

If we re-read this moment from Rahel's point of view, we learn a couple of things: first, it seems that when Sophie Mol is buried, her death hasn't yet really sunk in with Rahel. Second, if it's the funeral that kills Sophie Mol, then Rahel can't be held responsible – and neither can Ammu or Estha. By creating a new lens through which to view Sophie Mol's death, Rahel can take away some of the blame that's falling on her family's shoulders, if only to alleviate her own feelings of guilt.

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