The God of Small Things


Arundhati Roy

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The God of Small Things: Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

In 1993, Estha 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 you I love you,” as she does every day. Father Mulligan had died four years ago after converting to Hinduism, which offended Baby Kochamma, but she continues to possessively love the memory of him.
Roy juxtaposes the tension and upheaval of 1969 with the quietness and stagnation of 1993. Baby Kochamma lives so much in the past that she no longer even loves the present Father Mulligan, but only an idealized memory of him.
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Meanwhile Rahel is lying on Estha’s bed as he examines her body and face, which looks like Ammu. He remembers leaving her twenty-three years earlier, and the sights and sounds of the Cochin Harbor Terminus train station. He remembers Ammu being kicked out of the house, and the “thicklipped” man who was Estha’s companion on the train, and Comrade Pillai’s version of the Terror, which was printed in the newspaper: that “the Management” had framed Velutha because he was a party member, so after the police “Encounter” Comrade Pillai led an overthrow of Paradise Pickles.
The political aftermath of the Terror is only illustrated in this memory of a newspaper article, showing that it was not important to the twins, whose lives had already been ruined. Though Pillai personally abandoned Velutha, he then used Velutha’s death to incite a revolution. This revolution had no lasting effects for Pillai though, and he remains trapped in the “pickle factory” of Ayemenem.
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