The God of Small Things

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A Paravan (Untouchable) who grew up with Ammu and is very skilled with his hands. He is an excellent carpenter and fixes all the machines in the pickle factory, but is still treated as second-class. He grows into a handsome young man and is beloved by the twins. His affair with Ammu, betrayal, and brutal death make up much of the novel’s tragedy.

Velutha Quotes in The God of Small Things

The The God of Small Things quotes below are all either spoken by Velutha or refer to Velutha. 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 2 Quotes

What was it that gave Ammu this Unsafe Edge? This air of unpredictability? It was what she had battling inside her. An unmixable mix. The infinite tenderness of motherhood and the reckless rage of a suicide bomber. It was this that grew inside her, and eventually led her to love by night the man her children loved by day. To use by night the boat that her children used by day. The boat that Estha sat on, and Rahel found.

Related Characters: Rahel Ipe, Esthappen Yako Ipe (Estha), Ammu, Velutha
Explanation and Analysis:

Here the narrator describes Ammu, the mother of the twins and one of the novel's central characters. Ammu has a seeming contradiction at the core of her very being—she has both "the infinite tenderness of motherhood and the reckless rage of a suicide bomber." It is this contradictory nature that makes her such an intriguing character, but that also brings tragedy, particularly for her children (who depend on her "tenderness of motherhood"). As the novel will explore later, it's also suggested that Ammu's contradictions are seen as an affront to the status quo in her society. Women are not supposed to be "unsafe" or "unpredictable," to express their sexuality and "love by night," and it is this "Unsafe Edge" that brings about Ammu's downfall. Roy also introduces more small things here, repeating phrases in a childlike manner (particularly about the boat) while also hinting at tragedy to come.

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Chapter 8 Quotes

Suddenly Ammu hoped that it had been him that Rahel saw in the march… She hoped that under his careful cloak of cheerfulness he housed a living, breathing anger against the smug, ordered world that she so raged against… The man standing in the shade of the rubber trees with coins of sunshine dancing on his body, holding her daughter in his arms, glanced up and caught Ammu’s gaze. Centuries telescoped into one evanescent moment. History was wrong-footed, caught off guard.

Related Characters: Rahel Ipe, Ammu, Velutha
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Ammu watches Velutha play with the children, and she sees him as a man, a sexual being, seemingly for the first time. Ammu then thinks about Rahel supposedly seeing Velutha at the Naxalite march, and hopes that he was there—Ammu hopes that even behind his "careful cloak of cheerfulness" Velutha shares her anger at the unjust society that oppresses them both.

As Ammu watches Velutha, then, centuries of caste and gender roles "telescope" into this single moment—another kind of "small thing" affecting many big things. This scene plants the first seed of their forbidden romance, which will break many of the strict rules that Ayemenem society clings to so tightly.

Chapter 10 Quotes

Velutha shrugged and took the towel away to wash. And rinse. And beat. And wring. As though it was his ridiculous, disobedient brain.
He tried to hate her.
She’s one of them, he told himself. Just another one of them.
He couldn’t.
She had deep dimples when she smiled. Her eyes were always somewhere else.
Madness slunk in through a chink in History. It took only a moment.

Related Characters: Ammu, Velutha
Explanation and Analysis:

Velutha discusses the Naxalite march with his brother, and then goes about his chores. He knows he should be afraid that the Ipes (his bosses) saw him there, but he isn't—his anger and the rising anger of exploited workers like him seems to give him new confidence and fearlessness. As he works, Velutha also thinks of Ammu. He tries to hate Ammu because she is wealthy (and an Ipe)—is "just another one of them"—but he finds that he can't. This suggests that Ammu's moment of admiring Velutha was not one-sided—Ammu has also become stuck in Velutha's mind. With this glimpse into Velutha's thought process, then, the narrators shows that he has both the sense of anger at injustice that Ammu hoped he did and a special sympathy (and unwilling romantic attraction) for Ammu herself.

Chapter 11 Quotes

If he touched her he couldn’t talk to her, if he loved her he couldn’t leave, if he spoke he couldn’t listen, if he fought he couldn’t win.

Who was he, the one-armed man? Who could he have been? The God of Loss? The God of Small Things? The God of Goosebumps and Sudden Smiles?

Related Characters: Ammu, Velutha
Explanation and Analysis:

Ammu is napping, soon after the scene in which she was admiring Velutha. As she sleeps, she dreams about a beautiful one-armed man who can only do one thing at a time—"If he touched her he couldn't talk to her," etc. This dream figure is clearly a stand-in for Velutha, though Ammu is seemingly not yet willing or even able to recognize her sudden attraction to him. Importantly, Ammu's dream introduces the novel's title in the text (as the dream man is called the "God of Small Things") and also connects Ammu and Velutha's forbidden love with the theme of small things. Throughout their brief affair Ammu and Velutha will only focus on small things, on "goosebumps and sudden smiles," because the big things surrounding them (like the sexism, classism, etc. that forbids and condemns their romance) are too terrifying and oppressive to face directly.

Chapter 19 Quotes

Inspector Thomas Mathew squatted on his haunches and raked his jeep key across the sole of Velutha’s foot. Swollen eyes opened. Wandered. Then focused through a film of blood on a beloved child. Estha imagined that something in him smiled. Not his mouth, but some other unhurt part of him…
The Inspector asked his question. Estha’s mouth said Yes.
Childhood tiptoed out.
Silence slid in like a bolt.
Someone switched off the light and Velutha disappeared.

Related Characters: Esthappen Yako Ipe (Estha), Velutha, Inspector Thomas Mathew
Explanation and Analysis:

Throughout the novel it's apparent that Estha ends up even more traumatized by the "Terror" than Rahel does, and here we finally see why. Both twins decide together to "save Ammu," but Estha is the one who has to actually betray Velutha to his face. Inspector Mathew asks Estha a question (presumably, did Velutha kidnap the children and kill Sophie Mol?), and Estha says "Yes." Estha eventually stops speaking altogether after uttering this fatal "yes," to the point that he is totally silent in the scenes from 1993.

This is perhaps the tragic climax to the novel, as Estha truly loses his innocence and Velutha becomes the complete and helpless victim of all the sins of the other characters and of society itself. Yet again Roy describes the monumental events through "small things," and small things end up having the greatest impact. Velutha is portrayed only through fragmentary descriptions, and the small word "yes" comes to haunt Estha for the rest of his life.

Chapter 21 Quotes

Even later, on the thirteen nights that followed this one, instinctively they stuck to the Small Things. The Big Things ever lurked inside. They knew that there was nowhere for them to go. They had nothing. No future. So they stuck to the small things.

Related Characters: Ammu, Velutha
Explanation and Analysis:

The final chapter describes Ammu and Velutha's brief love affair, ending on a note of hope and romance despite all the tragedy that we know will follow these events. Once again the "small things" hide the "big things" here, as Ammu and Velutha cling to each present moment, each tiny fragment of their surroundings, to avoid facing the many social, cultural, personal, and historical forces that would divide and crush them. When the two lovers only see the small things, they can briefly forget that he is an Untouchable and she from a wealthy, upper-caste family; that she is a divorcee with two children and he a poor factory worker; that she represents the ruling class and he the rebelling worker class. This is the beauty of Ammu and Velutha's love, and also its downfall—it was only ever a fragile, fleeting thing, and so could never survive the larger forces that seek to destroy it.

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Velutha Character Timeline in The God of Small Things

The timeline below shows where the character Velutha 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
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...and the twins go to the police station, and Ammu asks to see someone named Velutha. Thomas Mathew, the police inspector, calls Ammu a veshya (prostitute) and threatens her if she... (full context)
Chapter 2: Pappachi’s Moth
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...Touchables and Untouchables, and it is full of palpable anger. In the Plymouth, Rahel sees Velutha (a young man she knows) holding a Marxist flag and she rolls down the window,... (full context)
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The narrator describes Velutha, who is an Untouchable, a Paravan. He has a leaf-shaped birthmark on his back. As... (full context)
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Even as a child, Velutha was very skilled with his hands, and later he learned carpentry from a German carpenter.... (full context)
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Soon afterward Velutha disappeared for four years. Meanwhile his brother, Kuttappen, had an accident and was paralyzed. Velutha... (full context)
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...offered to kill his own son. But earlier, in the months before the present narrative, Velutha and the twins had become very close friends, and he cooked for them and made... (full context)
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...it. When he leaves and the march ends Chacko asks Rahel if she really saw Velutha among the marchers, as that could mean trouble for the factory. The narrator says that... (full context)
Chapter 4: Abhilash Talkies
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...he is there and opens the door for him. Chacko ignores them and wonders if Velutha was really in the Communist march earlier. Comrade K. N. M. Pillai, the head of... (full context)
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Velutha is the only card-carrying Communist in the factory, but Pillai does not want him as... (full context)
Chapter 6: Cochin Kangaroos
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...Rahel then recites her list of who she loves most, which goes Ammu, Chacko, Mammachi, Velutha, and then Sophie Mol (even though they’ve never met until now). She doesn’t include Estha... (full context)
Chapter 8: Welcome Home, Our Sophie Mol
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Velutha approaches the outskirts of the crowd and Rahel slips away to play with him. Velutha... (full context)
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Velutha notices Ammu’s gaze, and history is “caught off guard.” Velutha notices “simple things,” such as... (full context)
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Velutha goes back to playing with Rahel, and he denies being in the march when she... (full context)
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...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 because she... (full context)
Chapter 9: Mrs. Pillai, Mrs. Eapen, Mrs. Rajagopalan
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...when the twins left her out. After that Estha and Rahel took Sophie to see Velutha, each of them in makeup and pretending to be ladies, and he made them wooden... (full context)
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...as victims, not perpetrators, but she knows there was only one true victim that day: Velutha. Rahel hears the drums announcing a kathakali performance and heads towards the History House. On... (full context)
Chapter 10: The River in the Boat
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The last person who claimed to have seen Kari Saipu’s house was Vellya Paapen, Velutha’s father. He said he saw Kari Saipu’s ghost while he was looking for a nutmeg... (full context)
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...the water and it sinks, so they decide to clean it and carry it to Velutha. When they get to his hut Velutha and Vellya Paapen aren’t there, but Velutha’s paralyzed... (full context)
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...and Rahel start singing an obscene song and Estha momentarily forgets the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man. Velutha returns and finds that he thinks of Ammu when he sees the twins now. He... (full context)
Chapter 11: The God of Small Things
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...notices that the twins are covered with sawdust, and she warns them about going to Velutha’s house, but she doesn’t say his name. Somehow this makes a sort of pact between... (full context)
Chapter 13: The Pessimist and the Optimist
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...family. Then “the Terror” takes over and he tells Mammachi what he has seen – Velutha and Ammu are lovers, and they take a little boat across the river every night... (full context)
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...Baby Kochamma immediately “blooms,” seeing all this as righteous punishment for Ammu, the twins, and Velutha. Baby Kochamma tells Mammachi they must send Velutha away before the family is ruined. (full context)
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...Maria trick Ammu into her bedroom and lock her inside, and then they send for Velutha, planning to get him to leave before Chacko returns from Chochin. But by then Sophie... (full context)
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...Afterward Baby Kochamma goes to the police station, where she tells Inspector Thomas Mathew that Velutha came to the house and tried to rape Ammu the night before. She says the... (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 make sure that Velutha doesn’t... (full context)
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...sent away to Baba. And Margaret never knew anything at all about what happened to Velutha, “the God of Small Things.” (full context)
Chapter 14: Work Is Struggle
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...some new labels for Paradise Pickles and then asks Pillai about the march, and whether Velutha was there. (full context)
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Comrade Pillai suggests that Chacko send Velutha away, as the other workers are uncomfortable with his caste. Chacko says that Velutha basically... (full context)
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On the night of Sophie Mol’s death Velutha is returning from having a canning machine fixed. He gets to Ayemenem and Mammachi sends... (full context)
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Velutha is in shock and his mind focuses on small details of his surroundings. He goes... (full context)
Chapter 16: A Few Hours Later
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...twins climb up to the History House and lie down, traumatized. They don’t notice that Velutha is already sleeping there nearby. (full context)
Chapter 18: The History House
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Back in 1969, six Touchable policemen cross the river to look for Velutha. They walk through the jungle and the narrator describes all the little animals and plants... (full context)
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The twins and Velutha are all asleep when the police find them. They wake Velutha up by stomping him... (full context)
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The police finally stop, and the narrator describes Velutha’s broken body, which has been abandoned by “God and History, by Marx, by Man, by... (full context)
Chapter 19: Saving Ammu
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...sends for Baby Kochamma. He is not friendly to her this time. He explains that Velutha will probably die of his injuries, and so if Velutha did not actually kidnap the... (full context)
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...Mathew says that unless the “rape victim” (Ammu) files a complaint or the children identify Velutha as their kidnapper, Mathew will have to charge Baby Kochamma for false witness. Baby Kochamma... (full context)
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...says, is to “save Ammu” from jail by answering “yes” when the police ask if Velutha kidnapped them and killed Sophie Mol. She tells them Velutha will die anyway, so it... (full context)
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Inspector Mathew takes Estha into the prison and Estha sees the bloody, broken Velutha. One of Velutha’s eyes focuses on Estha just as the Inspector asks his question and... (full context)
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...fall apart – she had assumed that Ammu would never admit to her relationship with Velutha. She had forgotten about Ammu’s “Unsafe Edge.” Baby Kochamma knew that she must get Ammu... (full context)
Chapter 20: The Madras Mail
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 21: The Cost of Living
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...like a witch.” She runs sobbing to the banks of the Meenachal River, hoping that Velutha will be there, but at first it seems he isn’t. (full context)
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Meanwhile Velutha is floating in the river, thinking about Ammu. He sees her and, as if accepting... (full context)
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Afterward Ammu both laughs and cries, and she feels safe in Velutha’s arms despite the danger of their situation. For the thirteen nights after that, when Ammu... (full context)