The God of Small Things Key facts and Summary

Key Information

Writer: Arundhati Roy (1661- Present)

Published: 1997

Setting:     Time setting: The main part of the plot takes place in 1969

                  Place setting: The village of Ayemenem in the Kottayam district of Kerala, India.

Genre: Family drama Novel. 

Themes: Indian history and politics,Caste relations and cultural tensions, Betrayal, Forbidden love, Misogyny and women in India, Social discrimination.


Arundhati Roy in her story The God of Small Things has beautifully shown how much family relationships can affect people’s lives. The events of the story are revealed in fragments. Most of the incidents occurred between 1969 and 1993. The story revolves around a wealthy Syrian Christian Ipe family in Aymenem, a town in Kerala, India. Most of the events take place in 1969 and center around seven-year-old twins Estha and Rahel. They live with their mother Ammu, grandmother Mammachi, uncle Chako and great aunt Baby Kochamma.

Mammachi’s husband Pappachi was an entomologist. One day while drinking tea, he discovered a new insect in his tea and submitted it to the government department. But the credit was given to someone else instead of Pappachi. He was very upset and resented Mammachi. He used to beat Mammachi a lot. Mammachi, meanwhile, had gained quite a reputation in his area for making pickles. But Pappachi could not bear this fame of his. The couple had two children, Ammu and Chako. Chako went to London to study and Ammu didn’t study much. Because Pappachi thinks girls should not read so much. According to her, girls will stay at home and do household chores. Pappachi also shows considerable indifference to Ammu’s marriage. But Ammu wanted to get rid of her father’s house by getting married. Because he is fed up with seeing the images of this oppression on a daily basis. He thought of going to a relative’s house in the city and marry someone of his choice there. According to her thoughts, she met and married a gentleman named Baba. There they had two twins. But later Ammu notices that Baba is a drug addict. He lost his job because of his addiction. Meanwhile Baba is physically and mentally torturing Ammu to get her job back. He wants Ammu Baba to form a relationship with his manager so that he can get his job back. Considering everything, Ammu decides that she will return to her father’s house with her children and does so. But his return was not well received by many. Chako thought that his father inherited the property only and he did not want to give any share to his sister. Things were going on like this, but suddenly an incident happened. The whole family goes to see a movie and on the way back, their car falls in front of a Communist Party rally. There they are harassed a bit and think Velutha might be among the group. Velutha is a low class person in this family and helps in various activities in this family.

In the course of events, Chako married a woman named Margaret in London. There they had a daughter named Sophie Mol. Shortly after the girl was born, Chako returned home and married another man named Margaret Joe. Later, when Joe died in a road accident, Margaret responded to Chako’s call and moved to Kerala with her daughter Sophie. In this way, their days were going well.

Naturally Ammu, Estha and Rahel were somewhat neglected in this family. But Velutha was very fond of the twin siblings. Meanwhile, Velutha and Ammu get involved. When the matter comes to light, the whole family gets very angry, as it has already been said that Velutha is a low class person. Baby Kochamma decides to use this opportunity to discipline a communist.

One day when Estha, Rahel and Sophie go somewhere, Sophie dies in a boating accident. This death acts as a major factor in tearing the family apart. Ammu, Estha and Rahel are blamed for Sophie’s death. It is believed that the accident would not have happened if the two of them had not taken Sophie. None of the three were allowed to attend his funeral.

Baby Kochamma takes revenge and files a case against Velutha in the police station, alleging that he kidnapped the three children and is responsible for the girl’s death. Police reportedly arrested Velutha and beat Bedam. He died there.

After Velutha’s death, Ammu, Estha and Rahel give a statement to the police that the allegations against Velutha are completely false. The police then panic, fearing that the killing of an innocent communist may lead to a major communist riot. Then they started pressuring Baby Kochamma. Meanwhile Kochamma asks Ammu, Estha and Rahel to take down the statement. But they stick to their decision. Frustrated, Kochamma then turns to Chako and tries to convince her that the three mother-sons are responsible for Sophie’s death. Chako angrily throws Ammu out of the house, sending Estha to her father. Ammu continued to make a living by doing odd jobs and died at the age of 31.

The time is 1993, Estha and Rahel are reunited at their mother’s funeral. Meanwhile, Rahel marries a man. But her family incident affected her marital life and her husband left her. Later Rahel realizes that her brother Estha is her best life partner. The story ends with them getting together.

Rashedul Islam
Rashedul Islam

Hi, This is Rashedul. Researcher and lecturer of English literature and Linguistics.

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