Study Guide

The God of Small Things Chapter 7

By Arundhati Roy

Chapter 7

Wisdom Exercise Notebooks

  • Back to 1993.
  • Rahel is looking through a book cupboard in Pappachi's study, which is dusty and falling apart.
  • Behind a row of books, Rahel finds what she's been looking for: a couple of seashells, Mammachi's contact lens case and the orange pipette that goes with it, and Baby Kochamma's rosary.
  • Rahel turns to Estha, who is standing in the doorway, and says that she stole the rosary after he was Returned.
  • Rahel finds something else: four notebooks marked Wisdom Exercise Notebooks.
  • On one of them, Estha had erased his last name and replaced it with "Un-Known" (7.16).
  • Rahel reads aloud from Estha's notebook. First she reads a short story based on the Odyssey. Then she reads a story about staying safe when walking on the street. Then she reads a story called Little Ammu.
  • Little Ammu is a two-paragraph story. The first paragraph is about how Estha and Rahel bought Ammu a diary for her birthday. The second paragraph is about how Ammu let Estha sleep in her bed that night after giving him a drink of water. Then Rahel, Estha, and Ammu had a midnight feast.
  • Below the story, Ammu, who had been correcting Estha's writing, wrote Estha a note telling him that if he interrupts her any more she will punish him severely.
  • Rahel has a flashback. She thinks about how Ammu was forced to leave Ayemenem and how when she returned she was seriously ill. Estha never saw her when she was sick.
  • We learn about the last time Ammu came back to Ayemenem. Rahel was eleven and had just been expelled from school. Ammu had lost her receptionist job because she'd missed too many days for being sick.
  • Ammu bought Rahel a bunch of little presents that were more appropriate for a seven-year-old. The narrator remarks that it was as if Ammu thought that no time had passed.
  • Ammu kept insisting that she was going to find a good, steady job and would get their family back together when she had the money.
  • Ammu looked awful and was visibly suffering. Mammachi told Ammu to visit Rahel as infrequently as possible. At that moment, Rahel was totally disgusted with Ammu and felt like she hated her.
  • We learn that this was the last time Rahel ever saw Ammu, who died soon after their meeting. Right before she died she had a nightmare that the police wanted to chop off her hair (which was a punishment for prostitutes).
  • When Ammu, died the church refused to bury her, so Rahel and Chacko had to take her to be cremated. Chacko held Rahel's hand when Ammu's body was burned, but Rahel got out of his grasp.
  • Rahel never wrote to Estha to tell him that Ammu was dead. She didn't see how she could do it: "There are things that you can't do, like writing letters to a part of yourself" (7.62).
  • Rahel's flashback ends. She looks up and realizes that Estha has walked off.