The God of Small Things

The God of Small Things Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Back in the Ayemenem house, Mammachi waits patiently for the family to return. Mammachi is basically blind, and she plays her violin and remembers her first batch of professional pickles. They looked beautiful but the bottles leaked, and even after years of adjustments Paradise Pickles’ bottles still leak some.
The symbol of Paradise Pickles grows more complex, as the pickle jars leak despite Mammachi’s attempts at perfectly preserving her foods. In the same way the family will break social taboos even as they try to cling to old traditions.
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Mammachi then thinks of Margaret Kochamma, whom she has never met but despises anyway. Mammachi hates her for her working-class background and for marrying Chacko. The day Chacko stopped Pappachi from beating Mammachi, Chacko became Mammachi’s “only Love.” She forgives his affairs with his factory workers, calling them “Men’s Needs.” Mammachi even built a separate entrance to Chacko’s room, so his “Needs” didn’t have to go through the house, and she pays his lovers so they seem more like prostitutes to her.
Mammachi transfers all her feelings, even romantic ones, from Pappachi to Chacko, so her hatred of Margaret is also jealousy. Mammachi condoning Chacko’s “Men’s Needs” is tragically hypocritical considering Ammu’s disgrace and exile. Mammachi sees the world in strict divides of class, so by considering Margaret “working-class” and Chacko’s lovers “prostitutes” she makes it easier to scorn and hate them.
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In the kitchen Kochu Maria writes “WELCOME HOME OUR SOPHIE MOL” on a huge cake. Kochu Maria is very short and bad-tempered. Despite her lowly job, she is proud of being a Syrian Christian and a Touchable, and she holds grudges against those she thinks have insulted her – like Estha saying “Et tu, Kochu Maria?”
Like Baby Kochamma, Kochu Maria relies solely on her heritage as a source of pride and superiority. Even though she is of a lower class like the laborers and Untouchables, she still hates and scorns them instead of empathizing with them.
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The Plymouth pulls into Ayemenem and everyone stops working to gather around the car. The children get out of the car and Rahel realizes she is an unnecessary part of the “Play” now, as everyone is just there to see Sophie Mol. Chacko introduces Sophie and Margaret to Mammachi, and again “only the Small Things” are said.
The Ipes are indeed all Anglophiles, as they fawn over and practically worship Sophie Mol for her whiteness. The child’s point of view sees the small talk and politeness for what it is, an elaborate play to impress Sophie and Margaret.
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Get the entire The God of Small Things LitChart as a printable PDF.
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Velutha approaches the outskirts of the crowd and Rahel slips away to play with him. Velutha tosses her up and down and Ammu watches them together, admiring Velutha’s bare torso and smile. She suddenly hopes that Velutha was actually in the march, that he also has a hidden anger under his cheerful exterior.
Despite his low caste, Velutha is beloved by the children for his willingness to share in their fantasies and his kindness in “small things.” Ammu sees Velutha as a man for the first time, a sexual being, and she hopes that he shares her anger at the unjust society that oppresses both of them.
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Velutha notices Ammu’s gaze, and history is “caught off guard.” Velutha notices “simple things,” such as the fact that Ammu is now a woman, and that perhaps she has things to offer him now, just as he had built her little toys when they were children. Then they look away and history returns with its “Love Laws.”
This is one of the important small moments of the book, when the largeness of “history” is condensed into an instant. Again small things, like the little toys Velutha makes, bring an intimacy to something huge like breaking a caste taboo.
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Velutha goes back to playing with Rahel, and he denies being in the march when she accuses him. Velutha says it was probably his long-lost twin brother “Urumban.” Meanwhile Kochu Maria brings out the giant cake and admires Sophie Mol’s beauty in Malayalam (she doesn’t speak English). Kochu Maria sniffs Sophie Mol’s hands and Margaret Kochamma insensitively asks if that is how men and women kiss here too. Ammu responds sarcastically, saying she feels like part of a “tribe that’s just been discovered,” and storms out.
Velutha introduces Urumban to playfully distract Rahel and avoid causing trouble at the factory, but later the twins will use this imaginary twin to deal with and deny Velutha’s brutal death. Ammu also sees the “Play” for what it is, but she understands the racist implications of this idolizing of whiteness and sees that the Ipes are basically “exoticizing” themselves.
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No one knows where Ammu learned her rebelliousness and feminism, as she hadn’t been taught or read about it. She learned it from her father, who acted like a charitable gentleman to the public but then in private was abusive, cruel, and sadistic to Ammu and Mammachi. Ammu remembers one night when Pappachi beat her and then shredded her favorite boots. After years of this cruelty, Ammu grew to almost enjoy confrontations and being put down by “Someone Big.”
Ammu shares Roy’s anger against the injustice in much of Indian society, where a man can get away with promiscuous affairs (like Chacko) and violence (like Pappachi), but a woman must accept disgrace and abuse without complaint. At this stage in her life Ammu has almost “nothing to lose,” and so she feels no qualms about speaking her indignation aloud.
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After Ammu leaves, Kochu Maria cuts the cake and serves a piece to everyone while Mammachi plays the violin. Ammu calls 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 wants to get him in trouble.
The spelling of “Afternoon Gnap” is another example of free indirect discourse, where the narrator describes small things in the way the twins see them. Baby Kochamma is not being prophetic about Velutha, but only bitter and jealous.
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Kochu Maria boasts to Rahel that Sophie Mol will be the next Kochamma and make everything better, and Rahel gets angry and goes to kill some ants. Sophie Mol leaves the “Play” and watches Rahel. She suggests that they leave one ant alive so “it can be lonely,” but Rahel ignores her and runs away.
Sophie Mol first begins to escape her caricature as “perfect white niece” and become a human that the twins will later befriend. Rahel is still jealous of all the attention Sophie gets, and afraid of losing Ammu’s love.
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