Study Guide

The God of Small Things Chapter 14

By Arundhati Roy

Chapter 14

Work is Struggle

  • We're still in 1969. It's the afternoon of the day that Sophie Mol and Margaret arrive.
  • Chacko goes to see Comrade K.N.M. Pillai at his house. He isn't there, so Chacko sits and waits. Comrade Pillai's home contains a lot of Communist paraphernalia, including a placard that says "Work is Struggle. Struggle is work" and a photo of him placing a garland around Comrade E.M.S. Namboodiripad's neck.
  • Lenin walks in. Kalyani tells him to get his sister, Latha. Mrs. Pillai mentions that Chacko went to Oxford and makes Latha recite an English poem to him. (Latha just won first prize for elocution in a contest.)
  • Comrade Pillai shows up, and everyone listens to the rest of the poem.
  • Comrade Pillai makes small talk about Sophie Mol's visit. Chacko asks what's new with the party.
  • Comrade Pillai tries to get Lenin to recite from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar for Chacko's benefit.
  • Chacko feels a little weird. It's clear that in his relative poverty, Comrade Pillai is closer to the working classes than Chacko is, and this unsettles Chacko: "He held his poverty like a gun to Chacko's head" (14.64).
  • Chacko gives Comrade Pillai (who prints all the labels for Paradise Pickles and Preserves) a new assignment: they have a new product, cooking vinegar, and it needs a label design.
  • Chacko asks Comrade Pillai about the previous day's march (when the family was driving to the movies). We find out that this is the real reason for Chacko's visit – he couldn't care less about vinegar labels.
  • While they make small talk about the march, Chacko mentions that Rahel had seen Velutha among them. This startles Comrade Pillai, and we find out that he has been meaning to bring up Velutha with Chacko – he just wasn't expecting to have to so soon.
  • Chacko finds out from Comrade Pillai that Velutha is a card-carrying member of the Communist party. Chacko starts to sweat nervously.
  • Comrade Pillai tells Chacko that Velutha is going to cause problems and that it's in Chacko's best interest to send him away.
  • Chacko doesn't know why he should send Velutha off – he's been great so far. Comrade Pillai says that Velutha is making the other workers mad because he's of a lower caste than they are. Apparently a lot of them have come to Comrade Pillai with complaints.
  • Chacko tells Comrade Pillai that he's been thinking of organizing his workers into a union.
  • We learn that nobody will ever find out exactly what role Comrade Pillai had in the events surrounding Sophie Mol's death.
  • The narrator also tells us that we can't really blame Comrade Pillai for his role in these events – it's not his fault that he "lived in a society where a man's death could be more profitable than his life had ever been" (14.130).
  • The narrative breaks, and we are now with Velutha, who is on the bus back from Kottayam to Ayemenem. At the bus stop, Velutha runs into another factory worker who tells him that Mammachi wants to see him.
  • By now Vellya Paapen has already confessed to Mammachi. We find out that Vellya Paapen is waiting in the dark for Velutha to come home, holding the axe with which he plans to murder him for his misdeeds.
  • But Velutha doesn't go home – he goes straight to the Ayemenem house. Mammachi totally loses it when she sees Velutha. She even threatens to have him castrated if she ever finds him on her property again.
  • Velutha responds with "we'll see about that" (14.137). Baby Kochamma will embellish these words later on when she tells Inspector Thomas Mathew that Velutha threatened them with murder.
  • Mammachi spits in Velutha's face. He's totally stunned and leaves.
  • Velutha keeps thinking about Ammu and wondering if she's been hurt.
  • He goes to Comrade Pillai's house and incoherently tries to explain what happened.
  • Velutha asks Comrade Pillai something that even Velutha can't understand. Comrade Pillai's response is that the Party is not designed to look out for its members in their personal lives.
  • Velutha sets out again on his own.