The God of Small Things

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Navomi Ipe (Baby Kochamma) Character Analysis

Pappachi’s younger sister, a staunch Syrian Christian who loves Father Mulligan when she is young. Baby Kochamma then grows into a bitter, jealous woman who betrays Ammu and the twins to save herself. When she is old she spends all day watching TV while the house falls apart around her.

Navomi Ipe (Baby Kochamma) Quotes in The God of Small Things

The The God of Small Things quotes below are all either spoken by Navomi Ipe (Baby Kochamma) or refer to Navomi Ipe (Baby Kochamma). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Family and Social Obligation Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the HarperCollins edition of The God of Small Things published in 1998.
Chapter 8 Quotes

She was aware of his libertine relationships with the women in the factory, but had ceased to be hurt by them. When Baby Kochamma brought up the subject, Mammachi became tense and tight-lipped.
“He can’t help having a Man’s Needs,” she said primly.
Surprisingly, Baby Kochamma accepted this explanation, and the enigmatic, secretly thrilling notion of Men’s Needs gained implicit sanction in the Ayemenem House. Neither Mammachi nor Baby Kochamma saw any contradiction between Chacko’s Marxist mind and feudal libido.

Related Characters: Mammachi (speaker), Navomi Ipe (Baby Kochamma), Chacko Ipe
Explanation and Analysis:

Mammachi loves her son Chacko intensely, even with a kind of quasi-romantic love, and so she is initially hurt by his many "libertine relationships" with his factory workers. She eventually decides to accept these affairs, however, although she even goes so far as to pay money to Chacko's lovers so that she can see them as "prostitutes" and thus more easily scorn or ignore them. Mammachi and Baby Kochamma's acceptance of Chacko's affairs as "Men's Needs" that "he can't help" then highlights the extreme double standard in the house and society in general. Chacko's "Men's Needs" are seen as something almost sacred, while Ammu's sexuality (particularly later in the novel) is seen as shameful, sinful, and hateful.

The narrator also rather sarcastically points out Chacko's hypocrisy in these affairs, as he likes to play at being a Marxist, but still enjoys his "feudal" powers. He is the wealthy factory owner, and so can exploit his workers even sexually, undercutting any ideals of worker equality he might profess to hold.

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Chapter 19 Quotes

The twins looked up at her. Not together (but almost) two frightened voices whispered, “Save Ammu.”
In the years to come they would replay this scene in their heads. As children. As teenagers. As adults. Had they been deceived into doing what they did? Had they been tricked into condemnation?
In a way, yes. But it wasn’t as simple as that. They both knew that they had been given a choice. And how quick they had been in the choosing! They hadn’t given it more than a second of thought before they looked up and said (not together, but almost) “Save Ammu.” Save us. Save our mother.

Related Characters: Rahel Ipe (speaker), Esthappen Yako Ipe (Estha) (speaker), Rahel Ipe, Esthappen Yako Ipe (Estha), Ammu, Navomi Ipe (Baby Kochamma)
Explanation and Analysis:

Baby Kochamma tries to convince the twins to lie and say that Velutha indeed kidnapped them and killed Sophie Mol: repeating the lies that Baby Kochamma herself first told to the police. Baby Kochamma is trying to protect herself, because if it's determined that she lied and Velutha was beaten without reason, then she would be punished—but here she cleverly frames the twins' choice as one of "saving Ammu" or not. If they lie, Baby Kochamma suggests, Velutha (who, she says, will die either way) will take all the blame, and Ammu will be saved—but if the twins deny Baby Kochamma's story, then both they and Ammu will go to jail (supposedly for the murder of Sophie Mol).

When faced with this choice, Estha and Rahel quickly decide to go along with Baby Kochamma, offering just a whisper of "Save Ammu." This small, two-word phrase has vast repercussions, then, as the narrative suddenly steps back and defines this as the moment the twins truly lose their innocence. Their decision to "Save Ammu" clearly haunts Estha and Rahel for years, as they question whether they were really tricked and innocent, or if they knew what they were doing—if they freely chose family over honesty, loyalty over truth, and comfort over suffering.

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Navomi Ipe (Baby Kochamma) Character Timeline in The God of Small Things

The timeline below shows where the character Navomi Ipe (Baby Kochamma) appears in The God of Small Things. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Paradise Pickles & Preserves
Family and Social Obligation Theme Icon
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Small Things Theme Icon
...In 1993 Rahel Ipe is returning to her childhood home in Ayemenem, where her great-aunt Navomi Ipe (whom everyone calls Baby Kochamma) still lives. Rahel has come back see her “dizygotic” twin... (full context)
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...“breaking men” and a smell like “old roses.” Rahel then watches a bat climb up Baby Kochamma ’s sari, and she sees Sophie Mol cartwheel in her coffin while everyone is distracted. (full context)
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Baby Kochamma , who is now eighty-three, is pleased that Estha doesn’t speak to Rahel when they... (full context)
Indian Politics, Society, and Class Theme Icon
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When she was eighteen, Baby Kochamma fell in love with an Irish monk named Father Mulligan. Father Mulligan would visit Baby... (full context)
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Eventually Father Mulligan left Kerala and Baby Kochamma followed him to Madras, defying her father and becoming a Roman Catholic. She joined a... (full context)
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Almost fifty years later Baby Kochamma discovered television, and since then her garden has been abandoned. She and Kochu Maria, the... (full context)
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Baby Kochamma questions Rahel suspiciously, but Rahel ignores her. Rahel looks out at the old pickle factory,... (full context)
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The story jumps back to 1969, after Sophie Mol’s death, when Baby Kochamma acted self-righteously pious even though much of the trouble was her fault. Ammu consulted a... (full context)
Chapter 2: Pappachi’s Moth
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The narrative picks up in 1969 as Estha, Rahel, Ammu, Chacko, and Baby Kochamma drive in the family’s blue Plymouth to Cochin, where they will see The Sound of... (full context)
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The story returns to the car ride in the Plymouth. Even in 1969 Baby Kochamma doesn’t like the twins, as they are half Hindu and the children of a divorced... (full context)
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...Jungle Book and The Tempest, and were offended when Miss Mitten, a missionary friend of Baby Kochamma ’s, gave them a book for little children. They recited the book to Miss Mitten... (full context)
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...the window, leans out of it, and yells for him. Velutha disappears and Ammu and Baby Kochamma pull Rahel back into the car, furious. (full context)
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Back in the present one of the marchers opens the car’s door and mocks Baby Kochamma , giving her a Marxist flag and making her wave it. When he leaves and... (full context)
Chapter 3: Big Man the Laltain, Small Man the Mombatti
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The narrative returns to 1993, where the Ayemenem house has grown filthy and decrepit while Baby Kochamma and Kochu Maria spend all their time watching TV. They watch a subway busker play... (full context)
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Estha enters the house silently, and Baby Kochamma proudly predicts what he will do, as he has the same habits every day. Rahel... (full context)
Chapter 4: Abhilash Talkies
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Back in 1969 the family reaches the cinema hall, which is called “Abhilash Talkies.” Ammu, Baby Kochamma , and Rahel go into the girls’ bathroom and take turns peeing into the same... (full context)
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...things come with their own punishments.” Then Estha goes off to sleep with Ammu and Baby Kochamma , and Rahel, panicked about losing Ammu’s love, stays with Chacko. (full context)
Chapter 6: Cochin Kangaroos
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Baby Kochamma tells the twins that they are “Ambassadors of India” so they must be on their... (full context)
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Estha is momentarily distracted by a famous comedian purposefully dropping his luggage nearby, and Baby Kochamma tries to impress Sophie Mol by referencing Shakespeare. When Chacko introduces Estha, Estha refuses to... (full context)
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...Rahel out from the curtain and Ammu berates the twins about disobeying her in public. Baby Kochamma scorns her management of the children, but Ammu says they don’t need a Baba because... (full context)
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...isn’t Kochu Thomban (Little Tusker), the Ayemenem temple elephant who comes to their house sometimes. Baby Kochamma makes the twins sing a song to show off their English pronunciation. (full context)
Chapter 7: Wisdom Exercise Notebooks
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...disintegrated into dust. Rahel reaches into her old hiding place behind a book and finds Baby Kochamma ’s rosary, which Rahel stole twenty-three years before. Estha appears in the doorway but doesn’t... (full context)
Chapter 8: Welcome Home, Our Sophie Mol
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...violin. Ammu calls from the house for Rahel to come in for her “Afternoon Gnap.” Baby Kochamma notices Velutha being “over-familiar,” and she warns that he will be the family’s “Nemesis” just... (full context)
Chapter 10: The River in the Boat
Indian Politics, Society, and Class Theme Icon
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...asleep. She imagines Estha waiting for her by the river (holding the Marxist flag that Baby Kochamma was forced to wave) and then she somehow perceives that he is sitting on an... (full context)
Chapter 13: The Pessimist and the Optimist
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...locked in her bedroom, and the river was swollen with a recent rain. Mammachi and Baby Kochamma got news that a fisherman had found Sophie Mol’s body, and then Ammu remembered what... (full context)
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...and she screams at Vellya Paapen and shoves him away from her, forgetting his Untouchability. Baby Kochamma hears the commotion and appears, and Kochu Maria tells her the story. Baby Kochamma immediately... (full context)
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Baby Kochamma makes a little comment to Mammachi about the smell of Paravans, and at that Mammachi’s... (full context)
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...white child that morning, and realizing that one can never underestimate the Meenachal river. Afterward Baby Kochamma goes to the police station, where she tells Inspector Thomas Mathew that Velutha came to... (full context)
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Inspector Thomas Mathew comforts the “weeping” Baby Kochamma and promises to catch Velutha soon. After she leaves he sends for Comrade Pillai to... (full context)
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When Baby Kochamma returns to the house Chacko and Margaret Kochamma have gotten back from Chochin. Margaret sees... (full context)
Chapter 14: Work Is Struggle
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...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. (full context)
Chapter 17: Cochin Harbor Terminus
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...sits on his bed. Outside the old Plymouth has been abandoned and overgrown with vines. Baby Kochamma fills out a form for a Listerine coupon and writes in her diary “I love... (full context)
Chapter 19: Saving Ammu
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...After hearing about all the toys, Mathew knows something is wrong, and he sends for Baby Kochamma . He is not friendly to her this time. He explains that Velutha will probably... (full context)
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...a complaint or the children identify Velutha as their kidnapper, Mathew will have to charge Baby Kochamma for false witness. Baby Kochamma is terrified, and she offers to try and convince the... (full context)
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Inspector Mathew leaves Baby Kochamma alone with the twins, and she accuses them of murdering Sophie Mol. She says there... (full context)
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Baby Kochamma ends her speech by posing the choice as “saving Ammu” or sending her to jail.... (full context)
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When Ammu went to the police station after Sophie Mol’s funeral, Baby Kochamma became terrified that her plan would fall apart – she had assumed that Ammu would... (full context)