Study Guide

The God of Small Things Chapter 21

By Arundhati Roy

Chapter 21

The Cost of Living

  • It's nighttime. Ammu goes out onto the veranda and listens to the Rolling Stones on her radio. She is especially affected by the lyrics about realizing your dreams before it's too late.
  • Ammu starts walking through the darkness down to the river.
  • We learn that earlier that afternoon (the afternoon of Sophie Mol's arrival), Velutha had realized that he loved Ammu.
  • Ammu had expected that somehow Velutha would have anticipated her arrival, and she's sad not to see him.
  • But Velutha is there, floating on his back in the river. He's totally overcome when he sees her. Ammu is sitting with her head buried in her arms.
  • The narrator asks us, would Velutha have done what he did next if he knew it would lead to his own destruction?
  • Velutha swims over to Ammu. They look at each other. His heart beats like crazy.
  • Ammu puts her arms around Velutha. Then she takes her shirt off.
  • She starts kissing him. He starts kissing her back.
  • They lie down on the ground and make love.
  • Velutha is frightened by what he's done. He knows this isn't a one-time thing.
  • Ammu gets up and leaves.
  • For the next two weeks they meet. When they talk, they stick to the "Small Things" because they know there's no future for them in the long term.
  • Every night they check on a little spider they name Chappu Thamburan: Lord Rubbish. We find out that the spider will outlive Velutha.
  • When Ammu leaves Velutha, she says "Naaley," which means "tomorrow" (21.81-82).