Study Guide

The God of Small Things Chapter 20

By Arundhati Roy

Chapter 20

The Madras Mail

  • We're back at the train station on the day Estha is Returned. Estha is sitting on the train. Ammu holds his hand through the window. She's trying not to cry.
  • The narrator tells us that it will be years before the twins realize that they're not wholly to blame for Ammu's grief.
  • Ammu tells Estha that she'll come for him as soon as she gets a job. Estha cries that that will never happen.
  • Ammu tells Estha and Rahel that one day she'll open a school and they'll get to go there.
  • The train starts moving. Estha panics. The narrator tells us that Estha leaves his voice behind, while Rahel can't stop screaming.
  • The narrative breaks. We're back in 1993.
  • Estha and Rahel are lying in the dark with their arms around one another.
  • The narrator comments that there is nothing to say to clarify what happened next, but we know that Estha and Rahel have sex. The narrator tells us, furthermore, that "once again they broke the Love Laws. That lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much" (20.78).
  • We flash back to 1969, to the day of Sophie Mol's arrival. Everyone is at the supper table. Sophie Mol shows everyone the chewed-up food in her mouth. When Rahel mimics her, Ammu sends her to bed.
  • Ammu kisses Rahel's cheek as she tucks her in, and Rahel can tell that Ammu isn't actually angry.
  • Ammu doesn't want to return to the dinner table, where everyone is acting like Sophie Mol and Margaret Kochamma are more important than anyone else and where Chacko is super smug.
  • Ammu aches for Velutha.