The God of Small Things

The God of Small Things Essay Questions

  1. 1

    In The God of Small Things, various "Big Things" and "Small Things" are constantly at odds. Define "Big Things" and "Small Things" in your own terms, and then determine whether one class of things or the other becomes ascendant by the end. Or are they always equal and opposite sets of things?

  2. 2

    Roy refers to Velutha as both "The God of Small Things" and "The God of Loss." Using specific examples from the text, explain what about Velutha makes these titles appropriate or inappropriate.

  3. 3

    Compare Ammu's and Velutha's secret sexual relationship to Rahel's and Estha's incestuous tryst. Is one or the other more forbidden? How do they express the psychology of the various characters involved?

  4. 4

    Examine Roy's use of "Small Things" and the 'small perspective' throughout the novel. Why does she insist on focusing on what is small? Are things small by nature or by convention? Consider the novel's epigraph in this context.

  5. 5

    Explore Paradise Pickles & Preserves as a symbol for the forbidden and hidden in The God of Small Things. How does the process of pickling serve as a metaphor for the way the family handles its 'skeletons in the closet'?

  6. 6

    How does Roy use the idea of loyalty in the novel? Which characters are loyal and which are disloyal? Some characters to consider: Comrade Pillai, Baby Kochamma, Velutha, Ammu, Estha.

  7. 7

    Explain how violence and sex are connected throughout the novel. In Roy's world, can one exist without the other, or are they necessarily connected? What sort of outlook does this create?

  8. 8

    Examine Roy's use of the grotesque in the story's events as well as the characters' fantasies. Is any of the violence Roy uses gratuitous? If so, how? If not, why is so much violence necessary in the novel?

  9. 9

    Consider Roy's literary style. How does her use of perspective, time, fantasy, refrain, and any other element you wish to discuss affect the way we perceive the story?

  10. 10

    Examine Roy's use of setting in the novel. How do her choices serve to highlight a connection or disconnection between the worlds of "Big Things" and "Small Things"? Some locations to consider: The river and riverbank, Ayemenem as a whole, Cochin, the History House, the Ayemenem House, the hotel, the movie theater, Ammu's room, the police station.

  11. 11

    Does The God of Small Things have one definite protagonist? If so, who is it and why? If not, why does the novel need no single protagonist?

  12. 12

    Contrast one of the following sets of characters, using specific examples from the text: Velutha and Estha, Ammu and Rahel, Sophie and Rahel, Baby Kochamma and Mammachi, Chacko and Comrade Pillai. What makes the comparison worth noting? Do not compare characters unless you can argue why the comparison is worthwhile.

  13. 13

    Which affects Estha's and Rahel's relationship more, their shared experience, or their instinctive, biological connection from birth? Make sure you can substantiate your claim with regard to episodes such as their incest, the incident with the Orangedrink Lemondrink man, Sophie Mol's death, and the scene at the police station with Baby Kochamma.