The God of Small Things

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The God of Small Things Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The story then moves to the day Estha is sent away on the train to Madras. Estha looks out the window of the train at Ammu and Rahel. The twins won’t realize until years later Ammu’s role in “loving a man to death” – for now they assume Velutha’s fate was all their fault. Ammu promises Estha that she will get him as soon as she finds a job, and Estha, panicked, says that will be “never.” Because he says this word then, he will later blame himself when it comes true.
In this chapter Roy juxtaposes the twins’ separation in 1969 with the true scene of their “reunion” in 1993. It seems that hardly anyone knew the whole scope of the tragedy until years later, as the twins didn’t even realize that Ammu had loved Velutha. Again it is a single word that carries the weight of the world for Estha.
Themes
Family and Social Obligation Theme Icon
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Small Things Theme Icon
Meanwhile Ammu promises that she will see Estha soon, and she, Rahel, and Estha begin describing their dream house, and a school where the punishments fit the crimes – not like punishments “you spent your whole life in.” The train starts to move and Estha and Rahel both scream as they are separated.
Just as Rahel wanted Ammu to punish her instead of “loving her less,” so now the twins long for a concrete punishment that could fix the situation instead of just haunting their whole lives. When the twins are separated they seem to feel physical pain.
Themes
Family and Social Obligation Theme Icon
Change vs. Preservation Theme Icon
Small Things Theme Icon
Twenty-three years later, the twins lie down together on Estha’s bed in silence. Then they have sex, once again breaking the “Love Laws,” “Quietness” and “Emptiness” (Estha and Rahel) naturally coming together in an expression of grief, not joy.
This controversial scene shows how there is no true healing for such grief as the twins have experienced. They can only come back together in this way, reaffirming their closeness and love through another taboo act, though the novel suggests that it is only through love, and not the strict enforcement of prejudicial rules or taboos, that peace and togetherness can be found.
Themes
Family and Social Obligation Theme Icon
Indian Politics, Society, and Class Theme Icon
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
The narrative then moves back to 1969, the night that Sophie Mol arrives in Ayemenem. Ammu puts the twins to bed early, but they can tell she isn’t angry with them anymore. Ammu then stands in the dark bedroom, reluctant to go back to the loud conversation and adoration of Sophie Mol and Margaret Kochamma. She remembers her dream of the “God of Small Things,” and she longs for him.
This is the same day that the twins feared Ammu was angry and would stop loving them, so at least they had a small reconciliation that night. Ammu’s forbidden relationship begins the day Sophie Mol arrives – the world of Ayemenem is overturned in just two short weeks.
Themes
Family and Social Obligation Theme Icon
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Change vs. Preservation Theme Icon
Small Things Theme Icon
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