A few hours later Estha and Rahel decide to run away, taking to heart Ammu’s words that they are “millstones around her neck.” Estha has already equipped the History House with supplies in case he had to go there to escape the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man. Sophie Mol convinces them to take her along, as she says the absence of any children in the house will make the adults sadder.
Having expanded on the “Big Things,” Roy now returns to the children and the intimate aspects of tragedy. The small past events of the story begin to come together and lead to this particular situation.
The three go down to the river and get into their boat. The river is faster and stronger than they expected, and lots of debris floats past them. Then the boat hits a log and tips over. Estha and Rahel manage to swim to shore and grab a low-hanging tree, but Sophie Mol disappears. Rahel feels Pappachi’s moth land on her heart as she realizes Sophie is probably drowned.
This small moment and random accident is basically the climactic action of the book, even though it happens so quickly and quietly. It is what precedes and follows the moment that makes Sophie Mol’s death a tragedy of such long-lasting scope.
The narrator muses on the quickness and quietness of Sophie Mol’s death. After searching hopelessly for her, the twins climb up to the History House and lie down, traumatized. They don’t notice that Velutha is already sleeping there nearby.
Even though Sophie Mol’s death is a “Big Thing,” the actual moment of it is a “small thing.” The stage is now set for the Terror.