The God of Small Things

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Paradise Pickles & Preserves Symbol Analysis

Paradise Pickles & Preserves Symbol Icon
The pickle factory next to the Ipe house becomes a plot point as its laborers flirt with Marxism and rebellion, but the pickles themselves are symbolic of the theme of preservation. Pickling the fruits and vegetables is essentially preserving them so they last forever, just like the Ipe family tries to preserve the past – notably the memory of Sophie Mol’s death and the old divides between landlords and laborers, Touchables and Untouchables. Within the pickle factory itself, the banana jam Mammachi makes is also symbolic, as banana jam is illegal to sell because it cannot be properly categorized as either jam or jelly. Rahel compares this to much of the family’s conflict, as lines of religion and caste are blurred and this confusion of categories leads to tragedy.

Paradise Pickles & Preserves Quotes in The God of Small Things

The The God of Small Things quotes below all refer to the symbol of Paradise Pickles & Preserves. 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 1 Quotes

They used to make pickles, squashes, jams, curry powders and canned pineapples. And banana jam (illegally) after the FPO (Food Products Organization) banned it because according to their specifications it was neither jam nor jelly. Too thin for jelly and too thick for jam. An ambiguous, unclassifiable consistency, they said… Looking back now, to Rahel it seemed as though this difficulty that their family had with classification ran much deeper than the jam-jelly question… They all broke the rules. They all crossed into forbidden territory. They all tampered with the laws that lay down who should be loved and how. And how much. The laws that make grandmothers grandmothers, uncles uncles, mothers mothers, cousins cousins, jam jam, and jelly jelly.

Related Characters: Rahel Ipe
Related Symbols: Paradise Pickles & Preserves
Explanation and Analysis:

In the narrative present, Rahel, who has returned to Ayemenem, looks out at her family's old pickle factory and ruminates on its significance. This passage is a good description of how Paradise Pickles & Preserves acts as an important symbol in the novel.

On the simplest level, pickling things is about preserving them, and as Roy has already shown, many things are preserved for years in Ayemenem and the Ipe household (most notably "the Loss of Sophie Mol"). The symbol is complicated, however, with the mention of the illegal banana jam—which is illegal because it can't be defined as strictly jam or jelly. This absurd and humorous fact becomes significant to Rahel in hindsight, as it brings up ideas of breaking boundaries, and shows how far society will go to maintain the status quo: even banning a food just because it doesn't fit into a convenient category. This "small thing" then connects to the "big thing" of love: "who should be loved and how...and how much," a phrase repeated many times in the novel, and one that will become much more important later on.

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Paradise Pickles & Preserves Symbol Timeline in The God of Small Things

The timeline below shows where the symbol Paradise Pickles & Preserves 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
Indian Politics, Society, and Class Theme Icon
Change vs. Preservation Theme Icon
Small Things Theme Icon
...questions Rahel suspiciously, but Rahel ignores her. Rahel looks out at the old pickle factory, Paradise Pickles & Preserves, which sits between the house and the river. Mammachi used to run it... (full context)
Chapter 2: Pappachi’s Moth
Family and Social Obligation Theme Icon
Indian Politics, Society, and Class Theme Icon
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Change vs. Preservation Theme Icon
Rahel thinks about the car and how on its roof is a sign advertising Paradise Pickles & Preserves. The pickle company began with Mammachi’s small personal business. She began to be... (full context)
Family and Social Obligation Theme Icon
Indian Politics, Society, and Class Theme Icon
Change vs. Preservation Theme Icon
...and was paralyzed. Velutha then returned to Ayemenem and Chacko hired him to work for Paradise Pickles . The other workers sometimes grumbled about his presence, so Mammachi paid him less than... (full context)
Chapter 4: Abhilash Talkies
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
...is polite and friendly to Ammu, but he also mentions that he knows exactly where Paradise Pickles is. Estha knows that this is a veiled threat, and he helplessly accepts some sweets... (full context)
Family and Social Obligation Theme Icon
Indian Politics, Society, and Class Theme Icon
Change vs. Preservation Theme Icon
...of the Party in Ayemenem, had been hoping to create a new labor union at Paradise Pickles . Chacko himself talked to his workers about Marxism, but Pillai would also invite them... (full context)
Chapter 8: Welcome Home, Our Sophie Mol
Change vs. Preservation Theme Icon
Small Things Theme Icon
...professional pickles. They looked beautiful but the bottles leaked, and even after years of adjustments Paradise Pickles ’ bottles still leak some. (full context)
Chapter 9: Mrs. Pillai, Mrs. Eapen, Mrs. Rajagopalan
Indian Politics, Society, and Class Theme Icon
Change vs. Preservation Theme Icon
...heads towards the History House. On her way she steps into the abandoned remains of Paradise Pickles , and thinks about how “things can change in a day.” (full context)
Chapter 10: The River in the Boat
Change vs. Preservation Theme Icon
Small Things Theme Icon
...“Welcome Home, Our Sophie Mol” cake is being served, Estha slips away and walks into Paradise Pickles to think. The factory is empty except for Ousa the “Bar Nowl.” Estha walks among... (full context)
Chapter 14: Work Is Struggle
Family and Social Obligation Theme Icon
Indian Politics, Society, and Class Theme Icon
...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. (full context)
Indian Politics, Society, and Class Theme Icon
Change vs. Preservation Theme Icon
...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”... (full context)
Chapter 17: Cochin Harbor Terminus
Family and Social Obligation Theme Icon
Indian Politics, Society, and Class Theme Icon
Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Change vs. Preservation Theme Icon
...was a party member, so after the police “Encounter” Comrade Pillai led an overthrow of Paradise Pickles . (full context)