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The God of Small Things Summary and Analysis

by Litinbox

“The God of Small Things” is a novel by Arundhati Roy which was published in the year 1997. It is Roy’s first novel and was very well received, winning the Booker Prize for Fiction in the same year.

The plot of the novel is nonlinear in style; shifting back and forth between the present time and the past events. After this successful novel, Arundhati Roy has not written any novels for the next twenty years until she published “The ministry of Utmost Happiness” in 2017, her second novel.

 The God of Small Things

The God of Small Things takes place in Kerala, an Indian state, and revolves around the Kochamma family, especially the fraternal twins – Estha and Rahel. It also analyses the outcomes of the extramarital affair between Ammu, the mother of the twins and Velutha, a lower caste worker for the family.

The plot of the novel takes a more tragic turn after the death of Sophie Mol, Estha and Rahel’s English cousin who comes to visit their family in Ayemenem.

The narrative is non-linear, jumps back and forth between scenes in 1969 and 1993. The Kochamma family’s background is closely connected with the political and social transformations in Kerala during the period the novel takes place, including the rise of communism and caste system.

The God of Small Things focuses on the human feelings and interpersonal relationships. It explores such issues as the forbidden love, prejudice, class conflict, and the impact of colonialism.

The God of Small Things Short Summary

• The Twins: Rahel and Estha

The novel “The God of Small Things” takes place in Ayemenem, a village in the southern Indian state of Kerala. The novel begins in the 1990s with the introduction of the two main characters – Rahel and Estha, fraternal twins who are now in their thirties.

The story then moves back to their childhood in the late 1960s. The twins along with their mother Ammu and their maternal grandparents Mammachi and Pappachi and their great aunt Baby Kochamma live in Ayemenem.

The family is part of the Touchable caste while most of the population of Kerala are from the Untouchable caste. This social hierarchy is well established in Indian society and has significant impact on the characters of the novel.

• Ammu Loves Velutha

Ammu gets involved in a forbidden love affair with Velutha, an Untouchable and a skilled carpenter who works for the family.

Rahel and Estha have a special relationship and they try to make their way through the challenges of their family. Ammu is a divorced woman who is socially rejected by the community and lives with her parents for sustenance.

Mammachi is a resentful woman who perpetuates the caste system at home and enforces strict rules in the household. Pappachi is a former imperial entomologist who used to beat Mammachi often and later suffers a heart attack and dies.

Baby Kochamma is an old woman who is religious and a power-hungry woman. She once had an unreciprocated crush on Father Mulligan, a Catholic priest. Baby Kochamma is also a very important character in the events that lead to the tragedy.

The plot interconnecting different plots, one of which is the developing love between Ammu and Velutha. Even though they have feelings for each other, their love is forbidden because they belong to different castes.

• Sophie Mol’s Death

Sophie Mol, the travelling cousin of the twins, dies by drowning in the river near their house and this puts much strain on the already a strained family, since Sophie Mol’s mother and the family believe that the twins and Velutha are responsible for her drowning.

Targeting Velutha for Sophie Mol’s death, Baby Kochamma plots with the police to arrest him for a crime that he did not commit. Velutha is captured, and he is tortured by the police which results in his death.

The consequences of Velutha’s death create a profound impact on the characters, particularly Ammu – Rahel – Estha. Ammu is left with no choice but to send away her children and she herself is thrown out by her family.

• Separation of the Twins

Rahel and Estha are split up at this point, with Estha is dispatched to live with his father in Calcutta and Rahel joins her grandmother in Ayemenem.

Rahel later on joins a university in America, but then comes back to Ayemenem after going through a lot of personal turmoil.

• The Twins’ Reunion

The story then shifts to the present after a few years, where Rahel and Estha, both having gone through their own traumatic experiences, meet each other.

Their meeting does not go without passion and sentimentality as they both try to come to terms with the past they once had and the consequences of the events that took place during their childhood. They recall the good times that they spent together before separation and ponder on the losses they have suffered during the course of the story.

The God of Small Things Characters


Rahel, one of the main characters in ‘The God of Small Things’, is a rather self-analytical character. At the beginning of the novel, she goes back to her childhood home in Ayemenem as an adult after a long time of absence.

She has a twin brother named Estha and she is the only girl in the family when they were children. They are best friends who have an unbreakable connection and they can communicate with each other even without speaking a word.

Rahel is rather a perceptive and delicate character: she often looks at the world and people about her with great attention.

Nevertheless, Rahel is an intelligent and creative character, she still feels guilty and lacks confidence. She holds herself responsible for the calamities that befall her family, especially the death of Sophie Mol, her cousin, and what she sees as her mother’s desertion. These traumatic incidents affect Rahel a lot, hence making her a very reserved person and also lose faith in the society.


Estha is another main character in “The God of Small Things”. He was named Esthappen Yako and he is a twin and has a very close relationship with his sister, Rahel. The main element of Estha’s character is the traumatic experience that took place in his early age, which affected him negatively.

After the tragic event referred to as “The Loss of Sophie Mol”, Estha gets quiet and distant as he tries to hide away from the rest of the family. He stops talking and only talks to his sister Rahel, what we call selective mutism. Estha’s silence is an indication of the lack of voice and the internal suffering he experiences.


Ammu, one of the key characters of “The God of Small Things”, has experienced a lot of hardships in her life during her searching for love and freedom. Ammu becomes as important as the two main characters for the plot development as her struggle and her needs are the trigger for the events that are going to happen in the novel.

Ammu is a beautiful woman with “kohl-rimmed eyes and a thick, wiry braid of hair. ” She has had a life of suffering and loss. Her marriage was not a happy one and they had twin children, Estha and Rahel, before they got divorced.

The stereotype of being a divorced woman further marginalizes her in society that adds to her struggle for acceptance. Despite the hardships that are depicted in the novel, Ammu is a mother who loves her children and is ready to do everything to shield them from the world’s evil.

Ammu desires a passionate love and she has an affair with Velutha, an “Untouchable” and thus breaks all social norms that are in place, and faces the tragic consequences. Their love is portrayed as a rebellion against the caste system and a result of her yearning for freedom from the society.

It is also important to note that Ammu’s character has a lot of guilt and self-blame throughout the novel. She has a feeling that she is the cause of all the calamities and the tragic occurrences within her family.


Velutha is one of the main characters in the novel ‘The God of Small Things’. He is a paravan, an untouchable, which makes him a representation of the caste system and the oppression of the paravans in the state of Kerala, India.

Velutha is a very skilled and creative carpenter. He develops an intimate relationship with Ammu and their love becomes a taboo as it goes against the norms of society.

Due to his being an outcast, his love affair with Ammu comes into a clash with the repressive elements of the society. He stood up against oppression and this leads to his early and cruel death.

Baby Kochamma

Baby Kochamma is one of the significant characters in the novel “The God of Small Things.” She is the aunt of the main characters, Rahel and Estha, and embodies authoritative and bigoted attitude of the older generation.

Baby Kochamma represents the stereotyped and hierarchical society in which the characters in the novel are trapped. She is cunning and conniving who is often using her position of authority within the family to further her own interests.

Looking at her, one would be forgiven for assuming that she is a weak woman. But, she possesses an indomitable spirit and an unquenchable hunger for power and control.

Uncle Chacko

Chacko is the uncle of the twins and the son of the Syrian Christian Ipe family. He is a Marxist who completed his education from Oxford. He is an idealist with strong belief in equality and justice for all the people in the society. Nonetheless, his beliefs and values often contradict his actions, thereby portraying the inner struggle within the character.

While Chacko is a revolutionary leader, he also enjoys a rather luxurious life, living in a big house and driving a fancy car, which reflects his privileged upbringing and the duality of his character.

Sophie Mol

Sophie Mol, an important character in “The God of Small Things”, is a young girl who contributes to the development of the plot. She comes to Ayemenem along with her mother.

Sophie’s death is a tragic part of the plot that darkens the overall mood of the novel. It is her death that sparks the deterioration of the family relationships as well as the breaking down of their world.