The God of Small Things

Priyanka Jain ✉


"The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy is a compelling novel that delves into the complexities of human emotions, politics, and societal norms. Set in Kerala, India, during the late 1960s, it tells the story of the fraternal twins Estha and Rahel and their family, whose lives are forever altered by the events of one fateful December. Below is an in-depth review and scholarly critique of the book, presented in simple English.

Representative picture

Narrative Structure and Style

Roy employs a non-linear narrative, weaving back and forth between past and present to slowly reveal the layers of the story. This technique effectively builds suspense and deepens the emotional impact as the reader gradually understands the magnitude of events and their repercussions. Roy's prose is lush and poetic, rich with metaphors and similes that bring the Kerala landscape and its people vividly to life. However, some readers might find the nonlinear timeline and dense prose challenging to navigate.

Themes and Symbolism

The novel explores a multitude of themes, including caste discrimination, forbidden love, colonialism, and the destructive nature of societal norms. A significant focus is placed on the concept of "small things" — the subtle, often overlooked moments and decisions that shape our lives. Roy skillfully uses symbolism, such as the river and the moth, to weave a complex tapestry of meaning that invites deep reflection.

Character Development

Roy's characters are intricately developed, each with their own flaws, desires, and tragedies. The twins Estha and Rahel are particularly compelling, portrayed with a depth that captures the innocence of childhood alongside the profound insights they gain into the adult world. The depth of character development not only drives the narrative forward but also serves as a vehicle for exploring the novel's themes.

Social and Political Critique

At its heart, "The God of Small Things" is a critique of the rigid social structures that define Indian society. Through the tragic love story of Ammu and Velutha, Roy criticizes the caste system and the laws that govern who should be loved, how, and how much. The novel also touches on the impact of British colonialism and the lingering effects of cultural imperialism. Roy's critique is nuanced and powerful, exposing the hypocrisy and injustices that pervade the society she depicts.

Reviewer Critique

While "The God of Small Things" has been widely acclaimed for its intricate narrative and emotional depth, some critics argue that its stylistic complexities can detract from the narrative's clarity and accessibility. Additionally, the non-linear structure may disorient readers, making it difficult to piece together the timeline of events.

Furthermore, while the novel's rich use of language and metaphor is often praised, it can also be seen as overly dense or pretentious, potentially alienating some readers. However, these stylistic choices can also be interpreted as integral to the novel's thematic depth and its exploration of memory and perception.


"The God of Small Things" is a masterfully crafted novel that offers a profound commentary on the human condition, societal norms, and the intricacies of love and loss. Arundhati Roy's unique narrative style and deep thematic exploration make it a significant work in contemporary literature. While the novel's complex structure and dense prose may pose challenges, its emotional resonance and critical acclaim underscore its importance as a work of art and social critique. As with any literary work, reader experiences will vary, but the novel's capacity to provoke thought and evoke deep emotional responses is undeniable.

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