The God of Small Things

The God of Small Things Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
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 toilet. Rahel enjoys the intimacy this activity creates. Meanwhile Estha goes alone into the boys’ bathroom and climbs onto some junk so he is tall enough to pee in the urinal. Chacko has gone to see about the hotel.
Estha and Rahel constantly seem to be seeking more love from a family that generally disapproves of them. This scene is one of the only times Rahel feels close to Baby Kochamma. Estha is a more serious child, who dresses nicely and insists on using the urinal like an adult.
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The family enters the movie theater, where The Sound of Music has already begun. In the movie the nuns are singing “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria,” and Estha can’t stop himself singing along in his high, pure voice. The people in the audience get angry, but Estha can’t seem to help singing, so Ammu sends him out to the lobby.
This scene emphasizes Estha’s purity and innocence just before he is molested. The children are more innocent and free in their actions, while the adults must always consider their social obligations.
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Estha sits down and sings in the lobby, and he wakes up the man selling refreshments, the “Orangedrink Lemondrink Man.” The fat, dirty man is angry at first, but then he coaxes Estha into accepting a free drink and coming behind the counter. The man asks Estha about Ayemenem and his Mammachi, and he makes Estha hold his penis while Estha drinks the lemon drink. Estha recites the different pickled products Mammachi makes to try and mentally escape from the situation. Then the man ejaculates onto Estha’s hand, wipes it off, and sends him back into the movie.
This is the first major traumatic experience of the book, and basically when Estha first “loses his innocence.” It is also the first major experience that one twin has had without the other. Roy still portrays the horrible scene from a childlike point of view, so the man is always known as the “Orangedrink Lemondrink Man.” This is yet another example of a love/sexual relationship being abusive and violating.
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Estha feels unclean and traumatized. He watches the clean, white children in The Sound of Music and compares them to his own feeling of dirtiness and degradation. In his mind he associates Sophie Mol with these white children who seem more deserving of love than he. Estha gets nauseated and Ammu takes him into the bathroom. He retches and washes his hands and face many times, and then Ammu takes him to get a lemon drink to cheer him up.
Much of the novel is about a series of causes and effects, and the twins were already worried about the white Sophie Mol somehow stealing their Ammu’s love. Estha now feels impure and less deserving of love, which will affect his actions later in the novel. Estha cleans himself thoroughly, as he will continue to do obsessively as an adult.
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The Orangedrink Lemondrink Man 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 from the man and says nothing to Ammu. Ammu makes the rest of the family leave the movie, as she doesn’t want Estha to risk a fever before Sophie Mol comes. They walk through the lobby and the Orangedrink Man offers Rahel a sweet, but she is repulsed by his yellow teeth and turns away.
Even though Estha has said nothing to Rahel, they share an innate sense and Rahel knows to be afraid of the Orangedrink Man. Unfortunately Ammu and the family are more concerned with the impression they will make on Sophie Mol than worried about Estha’s health. Estha feeling unsafe at home will also contribute to his future actions.
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As they are walking out Ammu compliments the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man’s friendliness, and Rahel unthinkingly says “why don’t you marry him then?” Everyone freezes, and Ammu tells Rahel that when you hurt someone, they love you a little less. Rahel feels Pappachi’s moth land on her heart, and she is terrified that Ammu now loves her less.
In Rahel’s active imagination, the moth becomes an eerie image of fear and unhappiness. Ammu’s social standing is a touchy subject, as she is basically living as a disgraced woman because she is divorced.
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They take a taxi to the Hotel Sea Queen, and Estha longs for a river to wash away his sickness. The family goes up to Chacko’s room, where he is feasting. Rahel asks Ammu to punish her, but Ammu says “some 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.
This idea of punishment also connects to the effects “small things” have on people’s lives – small mistakes like Rahel’s careless phrase should come with a small punishment. Later the twins will long only for “punishments that fit their crimes” instead of ones that last a lifetime.
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Chacko lies awake and thinks about Sophie Mol, who is coming tomorrow. He last saw her as a baby after his wife Margaret told Chacko she was leaving him for Joe. Rahel can’t sleep either, and she asks Chacko worriedly if it’s possible that Ammu will love Sophie Mol more than she loves the twins. Chacko says anything is possible.
Chacko offers Rahel no comfort, as he is lost in his own personal family drama. Because of her contradictory personality Ammu’s love often seems like a fragile thing, and the twins are horribly afraid of losing it.
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In the other room Estha wakes up and vomits in the sink. Then he goes and stands outside Rahel’s room. Rahel somehow knows 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 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 into his printing press and encourage them to rebel against Chacko, all the while printing labels for Paradise Pickles as well.
This is another concrete example of the mysterious connection the twins share. Chacko supports Marxism intellectually, but he still wants to act as a landlord in everything but name. Pillai also seems less than idealistic, as he feels no qualms about doing business with wealthy-Chacko, talking Marxism with comrade-Chacko, and plotting the overthrow of landlord-Chacko all at the same time.
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Velutha is the only card-carrying Communist in the factory, but Pillai does not want him as an ally because he is an Untouchable. Still the workers began asking for raises, and Mammachi always acted as the traditional landlord and denied them. Chacko meanwhile continued to play-act as a Marxist and ignore the discontent. Chacko lies in bed and muses that maybe he will organize his own labor union. On the next bed Estha and Rahel sleep while embracing each other. They dream about their river, which runs behind the Ayemenem house.
Despite the goals of the Communist march and Velutha’s obvious intelligence and ability, in Ayemenem Velutha will never be anything more than an Untouchable. Mammachi sticks to the class divides, which are unfair but comprehensible – she is the pickle-maker, the preserver of tradition – while Chacko tries to blur the lines between boss and worker.
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