Study Guide

The God of Small Things Chapter 4

By Arundhati Roy

Chapter 4

Abhilash Talkies

  • Back in 1969, Ammu, Baby Kochamma, Estha, and Rahel finally arrive at Abhilash Talkies to see The Sound of Music. Chacko has gone to book a hotel room.
  • Ammu, Rahel, and Baby Kochamma go to the ladies' room. Estha goes by himself to the men's room.
  • Rahel, Baby Kochamma, and Ammu take turns peeing in the same stall. Rahel loves it – to her, it's a scene of friendship and camaraderie. The narrator tells us that Rahel has no idea how special this moment really is, because it's the last time they will all be together.
  • Estha pees in a very ceremonial and formal way. He is too short to reach the urinal so he finds two rusty cans to stand on. When he's done he fixes his puff with Ammu's comb. Then he returns the cans to where he found them. He bows to the cans and all the cleaning supplies.
  • Estha meets the ladies in the lobby. Ammu suddenly feels a pang of love for Estha for doing his first "adult assignment" (4.28) – going to the bathroom alone. She ruffles his hair, spoiling his puff.
  • The usher tells them they've missed the beginning of the movie. They run up the stairs. Baby Kochamma is slow. Rahel likes the parts of the movie at the beginning the best – the scenes with the nuns. Ammu says that people usually prefer the parts that they most identify with.
  • The four find their seats. The nuns are singing their complaints about Maria.
  • Members of the audience start turning around and shushing someone. It turns out that Estha is singing along with the nuns. He can't help it.
  • Ammu yells at Estha to shut up. Estha stops singing but asks if he can go out in the lobby so he can sing to his heart's content.
  • Estha goes out in the lobby and sings his little heart out. His singing wakes up the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man who sits behind the refreshments counter.
  • The Orangedrink Lemondrink Man calls Estha over and tells him to stop singing. He tells Estha that he could file a complaint against him for interrupting his nap. When Estha tries to skedaddle, he Orangedrink Lemondrink man tells him the least he can do in return is to stay and have a drink.
  • The Orangedrink Lemondrink Man asks Estha where he lives. Estha tells him that his grandmother owns Paradise Pickles and Preserves.
  • The Orangedrink Lemondrink Man tells Estha to come behind the counter for his drink because he's not supposed to give them out until the intermission (you can probably see where this is going).
  • While the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man gets Estha his drink, he's like "oh hey can you hold this?" And then he hands something to Estha. It's his penis.
  • The Orangedrink Lemondrink Man puts his hand over Estha's and starts masturbating. Estha tries to take his mind off of what's happening by trying to think of all of the kinds of products they make at Paradise Pickles and Preserves.
  • All of a sudden the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man's face twists and Estha realizes that his hand is full of sticky egg white (except, uh, no eggs were used in the making of this scene, folks).
  • The Orangedrink Lemondrink Man cleans Estha's hand with a rag and sends Estha back into the theater.
  • Estha thinks about how much he loves the children in the movie and Julie Andrews.
  • The narrator asks, hypothetically, if Baron von Trapp could love Estha and Rahel. The hypothetical Baron von Trapp asks the narrator some questions about the kids. Are they clean white children? Do they blow spit bubbles? Do they shiver their legs? Have they ever held the penis of a stranger?
  • "Baron von Clapp-Trapp" says there's absolutely no way he could ever love them or be their father.
  • All of a sudden, Estha starts heaving. He tells Ammu that he's "feeling vomity" (4.150).
  • Ammu takers Estha to the ladies' room to try to get him to throw up. Nothing comes up but bad thoughts.
  • On the way back to the movie, Ammu brings Estha to the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man's counter to get him a drink – she thinks it'll make him feel better. Estha says no thank you to the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man. Then the man offers Estha candy. He says no thank you, but Ammu makes him take them.
  • The Orangedrink Lemondrink Man tells Ammu that he knows where their factory is. Estha realizes that the Orangedrink Lemondrink man can find him and that the ODLDM is trying to give him a warning.
  • Ammu tells Estha to stay with the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man while she goes to get Rahel and Baby Kochamma. Estha freaks out. Ammu apologizes to the ODLDM for Estha's behavior. When they go back in the theatre, Rahel gets pouty about having to miss all the major parts of the movie.
  • When they leave, the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man offers Rahel some sweets. Estha tells Rahel she can have his candy – he doesn't want her to go near him.
  • The Orangedrink Lemondrink Man says bye to Estha and tells him he'll see him in Ayemenem sometime.
  • When they're leaving, Ammu says that the Orangedrink Lemondrink man is sweet. Rahel's like "Why don't you marry him then?" (4.106). Everyone freezes. This was totally the wrong thing to say to Ammu.
  • Ammu tells Rahel that when you hurt people with careless words, they start loving you less. (This moment is important – it's going to come up again several more times, so keep your eyes peeled.) As she says this, Rahel feels an icy cold moth, Pappachi's moth, land on her heart.
  • They take a cab to the hotel, where Chacko is stuffing his face with chicken and ice cream.
  • Rahel is going to share a room with Chacko; Estha is taking her place with Ammu because he's sick. Rahel already feels like Ammu loves her a little less.
  • Chacko tells Rahel he doesn't want to hear about what she's in trouble for, but you can tell he's really trying to coax it out of her.
  • Chacko thinks about Margaret and Sophie Mol. We learn that he hasn't seen Sophie Mol since she was three weeks old. That was when Margaret told him about Joe and asked for a divorce.
  • In the dark, Rahel asks Chacko if he loves Sophie Mol Most in the World (4.314) and if parents have to love their children the most. Chacko says people usually do, but that there aren't any fixed rules. Rahel asks Chacko if it's possible that Ammu might love Sophie Mol more than she loves Rahel or Estha, or if it's possible for Chacko to love them more than he loves Sophie Mol. He tells her that anything is possible.
  • In the other room, Estha wakes up, throws up, then walks to Rahel's door. Even though he doesn't knock, she knows he's there and lets him in.
  • Chacko thinks about Velutha, and we learn more about Comrade K.N.M. Pillai and the Marxist party. Basically, Comrade Pillai has been in a good position to be nominated as a candidate to the Legislative Assembly.
  • Comrade Pillai is interested in targeting the workers of Paradise Pickles and Preserves and getting them to unionize – he thinks that by getting their support, he'll be one step closer to a spot in the Legislative Assembly.
  • We learn that things haven't been going that well financially at the factory, and that Chacko is doing his best to be open with the workers and to promise them their fair wages once things pick up again.
  • We also learn that behind Chacko's back, Comrade Pillai has been gathering the workers at his printing press in the evenings to incense them against Chacko and the factory. He's been telling them to demand higher wages, insurance, and the like.
  • Comrade Pillai always refers to Chacko as "The Management" when he makes these speeches. We learn that this is partially because Chacko is a client of his – Comrade Pillai prints all the labels for Paradise Pickles and Preserves.
  • We also learn that Velutha is putting a snag in Comrade Pillai's plans. Velutha is the only official card-carrying member of the Communist party who works at the factory, and all the other workers resent him to begin with. Comrade Pillai worries that this is going to make it harder to gather support from the other workers.