Study Guide

The God of Small Things Chapter 5

By Arundhati Roy

Chapter 5

God's Own Country

  • We're back in 1993. The narrator describes the river, which doesn't seem as powerful as it used to.
  • We learn that a fancy hotel chain has purchased the "Heart of Darkness," and now tourists from all over take speedboats over to the History House, which is part of the hotel chain.
  • Comrade E.M.S. Namboodiripad's house is now the hotel's dining room. The waiters are old Communists.
  • At night, for regional "flavor," the hotel stages abridged kathakali performances (a kind of traditional Indian dance-drama) that have been cut down from six hours to 20 minutes.
  • In the ground beneath them, Rahel's old toy watch lies buried and unnoticed.
  • Rahel passes a group of children. They call her a hippie and one of them throws a stone at her.
  • As Rahel turns to walk down the main road, we learn that Ayemenem has grown from a sleepy village to a small town.
  • Rahel passes Comrade K.N.M. Pillai, who is talking to his neighbor. Rahel hopes he doesn't notice her, but of course he does.
  • Comrade Pillai introduces Rahel to his neighbor. He vaguely remembers the scandal connected with her family but can't exactly remember the particulars. He only knows that sex and death were involved. The man leaves.
  • Comrade Pillai asks Rahel if she's still in America and if she's going to have a baby soon. Rahel tells Comrade Pillai that she's divorced, and he remarks to himself that the current generation is making up for the misdeeds of the one before. He wonders if the bourgeoisie is beginning to destroy itself from within.
  • Moving right along, Comrade Pillai starts talking about his son, Lenin (who has now changed his name to P. Levin).
  • Rahel has a flashback about Lenin. They were both little kids (5 and 3-or-4, respectively), and they were at the pediatrician's office because they both had stuck foreign objects up their noses.
  • Kalyani (Lenin's mom) and Ammu switched kids to see if they could help each other with the stuff in their kids' noses. Estha and Rahel were both in a panic – they were terrified of the doctor's office.
  • Just as the nurse called Rahel's name, she blew a bead out of her nose. Kids gathered around to admire it.
  • We flash back to the present. Comrade shows Rahel one last picture: a black and white photo of Estha, Lenin, Rahel, and Sophie Mol. Only Sophie Mol makes a face for the photo. Rahel remembers that right before the photo was taken, Sophie Mol explained to her and Estha that "there was a pretty good chance that they were bastards, and what bastard really meant" (5.111) and also told them what sex was.
  • Rahel remembers that this photo was taken only days before Sophie Mol died. She remembers Sophie Mol as "Hatted, bell-bottomed, and Loved from the Beginning" (5.116).