Analyze the character of Velutha. / Would you consider Velutha a tragic hero?

Introduction: Velutha is the younger son of Vellya Paapen. He is the representative of the untouchables in The God of Small Things. A carpenter by profession and an active worker of the Communist Party. Velutha is the young rebel in the novel, but he breaks the rigid conventional and religious rules by responding to Ammu’s sexual advances, forgetting the fact she is a “forbidden fruit” for an untouchable like him. As a result, he faces dire that bring about the ruin of both. 

For More Notes: The God of Small Things

Velutha’s efficiencies: We find in the novel that Velutha is unparalleled as a carpenter, mechanic, and engineer. Baby Kochamma refers to him as “Dr. Velutha” when her garden cherub’s silver was fixed inextricably by him. He never has the feeling that he is an untouchable especially when he takes up his profession. With full confidence, he easily surpasses his fellow workers who are jealous of him. But he does not bother about that. Though Velutha is untouchable in the eyes of his fellow workers, he is more than conscious about his duties to the working class. He participates in the march organized by the Travancore-Cochin Marxist Labour Union as part of a secretariat march to be organized by their colleagues in Trivandrum. 

A trade unionist: The fact that Velutha has taken part in the workers’ march has created ripples in Ammu and others in the Ayemenem family. He emerges as a brave trade unionist who succeeds in erasing his identity as an untouchable by fighting for the rights of the downtrodden in his white shirt and mundu. It is very significant for us. 

Velutha as a lover: Velutha lives the life of a lover and it is Ammu, the young divorcee, who makes him a lover. His relationship with Ammu develops gradually. It intensifies after she returns with her children to her parent’s home. When he was a kid, Velutha used to make little wooden toys for Ammu though he was to place them in her outstretched hand, he would not touch her. Eventually, she stops flattening her hand out. By allowing him to touch her on the riverbank on a moonlit night, Ammu breaks down the social barriers that divide them. 

For suggestion: The God of Small Thing

A victim of societal rules: A victim of societal rules: Velutha, the rebel, disregards societal rules in favor of love. For this, he pays a very deadly price. Although by our standards, he does not do anything wrong by loving Ammu. He has falsely involved though everyone knows that Sophie Mol’s death was an accident. It is Baby Kochamma who makes Estha give evidence before the police that Velutha has a hand in kidnapping them. This ultimately leads to the death of Sophie Mol. She also tells the police that he has threatened them at their house. Though Velutha is almost innocent in the affair that he had with Ammu, everybody of the touchable states that he is a true villain who should be stoned to death. The members of the Ayemenem family, Comrade Pillai, and the police play their heinous roles to finish off Velutha, the untouchable. The way he is tortured to death by police would perhaps be one of the most breathtaking descriptions in any fiction.    

Conclusion: To sum up, by virtue of his nobility of mind his efficiency as a carpenter, his capacity to love, his loyalty to the party, and his endurance in the face of suffering, Velutha rises to the tragic dignity of a Shakespearean hero. Indeed, he has tragic flaws, but his ill-treatment by the police and others rouses our pity and fear. Velutha represents the untouchables who have been traditionally ill-treated and will continue to be treated so.  

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Mottaleb Hossain
Mottaleb Hossain

This is Motaleb Hossain, working on studying, a researcher on English literature and Theology.

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