The narrative moves to Chacko on his way to Comrade Pillai’s house (that same day, two weeks before Sophie Mol’s death). Comrade Pillai is temporarily away, but his wife lets Chacko in. Over the door is a sign saying “Work is Struggle. Struggle is Work.” Mrs. Pillai is very beautiful, but Chacko notes that this is the first time he isn’t attracted to her – his mind is full of Margaret Kochamma again.
Roy deals with the political aspects of Velutha’s tragedy in this chapter, and Comrade Pillai becomes a more important character. Many people in Ayemenem seem to have had a hand in the “Terror,” and yet in 1993 they are still preserving the past and the “Loss of Sophie Mol.”
Mrs. Pillai calls for her niece Latha to recite an English poem for Chacko. Comrade Pillai arrives mid-poem, and he takes off his sweaty shirt and hands it to his wife, who accepts it like “a bouquet of flowers.” After the poem Comrade Pillai sends for some other villagers so as many people as possible will see Chacko at his house – Pillai is an aspiring politician and trying to extend his influence.
This short scene allows Roy to show the dynamic of a family in Ayemenem other than the Ipes and Velutha’s family. Mrs. Pillai is a “dutiful” wife in that she both adores her husband and practically acts as his servant. Pillai is an opportunist, and tries to bend any situation to serve his own ambition.
Comrade Pillai’s young son Lenin enters and sits in front of his father. Pillai and Chacko make small talk and Pillai boasts about his son’s genius. Chacko realizes that Pillai’s obvious poverty and “proximity to the toiling masses” makes Chacko the weaker one in this situation. He orders some new labels for Paradise Pickles and then asks Pillai about the march, and whether Velutha was there.
Pillai sees things clearly in this encounter and knows that he has more power than Chacko in the current political climate, especially if he can organize the workers at the pickle factory. Pillai also feels no qualms about taking Chacko’s money at the same time he plans Chacko’s overthrow.
Comrade Pillai suggests that Chacko send Velutha away, as the other workers are uncomfortable with his caste. Chacko says that Velutha basically runs the factory, so he is indispensable. Pillai suggests that the workers form a Union, and says that Chacko cannot “stage their revolution for them.” In this way Pillai gets a contract for printing labels and at the same time makes Chacko into the Oppressor, earning a victory in their subtle battle of wills.
Comrade Pillai knows that Communism will only be successful in this area if it sticks to the status quo regarding castes, focusing instead on the revolution of Touchable laborers. His ideals are less powerful than his ambition. Chacko is still distracted from the situation and thinks he can have the best of both worlds.
The narrator jumps ahead, explaining that Comrade Pillai would indeed be victorious, but his revolution would come too quickly and easily to be successful. After Sophie Mol’s death Chacko basically abandoned Paradise Pickles in his grief, and Comrade Pillai realized then that he needed “the process of war” more than a swift victory.
This is basically the political result of Velutha’s tragedy, and we see in 1993 that Comrade Pillai is still living in Ayemenem, rather than having ascended to greater political power. His immediate victory led to nothing more.
On the night of Sophie Mol’s death Velutha is returning from having a canning machine fixed. He gets to Ayemenem and Mammachi sends for him. Velutha goes straight there instead of going home, where Vellya Paapen is waiting with an axe. Velutha arrives at the Ayemenem house and Mammachi screams insults at him for a while, her anger encouraged by Baby Kochamma. Finally Mammachi spits in his face and Velutha leaves, stunned.
Vellya Paapen is serious in his threat to kill his own son to spare the Ipes further dishonor. From this point on Velutha basically acts as if in a trance – he cannot escape his destiny and the huge forces of history. Mammachi and Baby Kochamma exhibit an especially personal cruelty. Meanwhile, the one they spurn is actually fixing a canning machine, suggesting that Velutha is the one who could in fact help the family preserve what is important.
Velutha is in shock and his mind focuses on small details of his surroundings. He goes to Comrade Pillai’s house and asks for his help, but Pillai says that the Party will not protect Velutha. Pillai repeats a few slogans and sends Velutha away. Velutha walks to the river in a trance, as if history itself is leading him on.
Velutha, true to his title, notices the small things as he walks instead of trying to grasp the whole story at once. His only hope in battling the forces of history and preservation is Marxism, the force of revolution and change, but Pillai abandons Velutha as well.