HUL881 : ELEMENTS OF NARRATIVE ART
The God Of Small Things
Exploring Arundhati Roy’s Narrative Style
Shishir Kumar Chaudhary 2006CS50222
The term paper deals with the detailed study of Roy’s narrative style with reference to her first and the extremely popular novel- ‘The God Of Small Things’
The identification of The God of Small Things as postcolonial and/or feminist hinges on the psychoanalytical, socio-historical and political concepts or themes chosen to read the novel as a whole, to interpret its characters, their behavior, attitudes and actions, and to attach a certain meaning to its descriptions and narrative comments. This novel as a genre is generously roomy, capable of ...view middle of the document...
Now, to continue with the obvious, neither historical facts nor autobiographical traits appearing in the narrative transform the novel into a historical document or a "disguised" autobiography. Both the critic and the general reader are to engage with The God of Small Things first and foremost as a fictional narrative. Roy's sources are varied, both individual and universal. She borrows from the bank of personal experience, history, and stories read and heard to invent her plots, settings, and characterizations. As the novel unfolds, we see the influence of Dickens (imagery and metaphor), Thomas Hardy (rural realism and sense of character Fate), Gabriel García Márquez (play with temporality), to name a few. We also witness the narrator's explicit references to classic Indian epics such as The Mahabaratha and Ramayana. One of the dominant plots in the novel is that of the romance. This rather age-old, universal and somewhat conventional plot line, however, becomes interesting and vital once again thanks to Roy's narrative skills and to the focus on two lovers not just from across those proverbial tracks
that divide families and class, but from across caste lines. Also, as the novel spirals into its center and goes on to reveal the mystery of Velutha's murder, the romance plot is made to intersect with a mystery suspense plot; this puts an interesting and engaging new spin on the classic love story as it gravitates around the tragic consequences of loving within a castestructured society. Romance, suspense, mystery and intrigue are the dominant containers and motivators of The God of Small Things, a story that unfolds along two temporal planes. The most chronologically present narrative takes place over twenty-four hours: adult Rahel's return from the U.S. to Kerala (vaguely identified as the early 1990s) and her reunion with her twin brother, Estha. The most chronologically distant and past narrative takes place during the two weeks that lead up to the drowning of Sophie Mol, their cousin, and the murder of Velutha, in 1969, when Rahel and Estha are aged seven. Both chronological lines intercalate as the novel unfolds. This happens less as a series of flashbacks but as a seamless narrative mostly identified with (filtered through) the point of view of Rahel (who occasionally is also the narrator). As the narrator moves back and forth between these two temporal zones, the narrative gives more and more detail to scenes, events, and character interactions that make up the 1969 moment. In contrast, since the narrative present does not contain any plot shifting events, the reader senses that whatever happened in 1969 must have put a choke-hold of sorts on Rahel's and Estha's lives. Most of the novel deals with the past and hinges on it, and as the details accumulate, the reader slowly and strategically is directed towards the who and the why: not just of Velutha and his murder, but also of Sophie's death, of Estha's sexual abuse, and so on. Along...