The God of Small Things


Arundhati Roy

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The God of Small Things: Chapter 21 Summary & Analysis

Later that night Ammu feels restless, and she goes out onto the porch and listens to the radio in the dark. An English song comes on about losing your dreams, and Ammu suddenly gets up and walks “out of her world 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.
When first describing Ammu, the narrator said that certain songs brought out her “Unsafe Edge,” and here Ammu seems inspired by the radio to change her life and future. She and Velutha share a mysterious connection here, just like the twins do.
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Meanwhile Velutha is floating in the river, thinking about Ammu. He sees her and, as if accepting his eventual fate, swims slowly towards her. Ammu finally sees him and admires him as he emerges from the river. She goes to him and kisses him, and though Velutha thinks about how he could lose everything over this, he relents. They have sex there by the river, in the spot where Estha found the old boat – as if the twins had prepared this ground for them.
Roy ends the novel with these scenes of love, contrasting them with the violence and tragedy that seem so powerful and are borne of efforts to preserve or gain power and position. Roy is saying that although they are small and ephemeral, these moments of love are just as important as lifelong trauma or the upheaval of a nation.
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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 and Velutha keep meeting by the river, they only discuss the “Small Things.” They notice their ant bites, and the little spider who lives in the History House, and they relate his whims to the fragility of their own fate. At the end of every night they only promise each other “tomorrow,” as they cannot look any farther, and they know that “things can change in a day.”
We have seen all the horrors that came about because of this relationship, but Roy ends the novel on a hopeful note as Ammu and Velutha look no farther than tomorrow, and focus only on the small things and their immediate love for each other. Even the sad years following 1923 are still made up only of small things and “tomorrows,” and perhaps the reunited twins will also find some hope in each other and the wonders of the present.
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