The God of Small Things

Stop and Smell the Sicksweet Scent of Old Roses: Flower Symbolism and Tragedy in 'The God of Small Things' 11th Grade

In The God of Small Things, Roy’s main characters Estha and Rahel Eapen face many tragedies during their youth. The non-linear plot of Roy’s novel causes readers to piece together the story once you get to the end. Many times throughout the novel, Roy provides recurring sights and smells that foreshadow tragedy to come. More specifically she mentions the “sicksweet smell of old roses on a breeze” (Pg. 145). At the climax of the book when the twins watch Velutha, their mother’s forbidden lover, and dear friend, get beaten to death they ironically smell the old roses for the first time. This is Roy laying out the association between old roses, and pain and loss. She explains that this is “History’s smell,” the sicksweet, or bittersweet, smell that history gives off. This may be the first time that the twins encounter this smell, but it is definitely not the last as it follows them as a reminder of History’s affect on their lives. Roses, known as being a well known symbol of love, is turned upside down into a nasty after smell of the pain and loss the twins face starting with Velutha but definitely not ending there. Estha and Rahel are constantly feeling the affects of History and Roy uses the “sicksweet smell of old roses on a...

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