The God of Small Things

One of the twins and protagonists of the novel, Rahel is an energetic, imaginative girl. She and Estha are so close as to almost consider themselves one person, though their appearances and personalities are different. After Rahel is separated from Estha, she drifts from school to school and then job to job, lost without her other half. She eventually marries Larry McCaslin and moves to America, but she and Larry are divorced when Rahel’s “Emptiness” becomes too much. When she is thirty-one Rahel returns to Ayemenem to see Estha again.

Rahel Ipe Quotes in The God of Small Things

The The God of Small Things quotes below are all either spoken by Rahel Ipe or refer to Rahel Ipe. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the HarperCollins edition of The God of Small Things published in 1998.
Chapter 1 Quotes

He didn’t know that in some places, like the country that Rahel came from, various kinds of despair competed for primacy. And that personal despair could never be desperate enough. That something happened when personal turmoil dropped by at the wayside shrine of the vast, violent, circling, driving, ridiculous, insane, unfeasible, public turmoil of a nation. That Big God howled like a hot wind, and demanded obeisance. Then Small God (cozy and contained, private and limited) came away cauterized, laughing numbly at his own temerity.

Related Characters: Rahel Ipe
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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Chapter 2 Quotes

What was it that gave Ammu this Unsafe Edge? This air of unpredictability? It was what she had battling inside her. An unmixable mix. The infinite tenderness of motherhood and the reckless rage of a suicide bomber. It was this that grew inside her, and eventually led her to love by night the man her children loved by day. To use by night the boat that her children used by day. The boat that Estha sat on, and Rahel found.

Related Characters: Rahel Ipe, Esthappen Yako Ipe (Estha), Ammu, Velutha
Explanation and Analysis:

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Pappachi would not allow Paravans into the house. Nobody would. They were not allowed to touch anything that Touchables touched. Caste Hindus and Caste Christians. Mammachi told Estha and Rahel that she could remember a time, in her girlhood, when Paravans were expected to crawl backwards with a broom, sweeping away their footprints so that Brahmins or Syrian Christians would not defile themselves by accidentally stepping into a Paravan’s footprint.

Related Characters: Rahel Ipe, Esthappen Yako Ipe (Estha), Mammachi, Shri Benaan John Ipe (Pappachi)
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Stop posing as the children’s Great Savior!” Ammu said. “When it comes down to brass tacks, you don’t give a damn about them. Or me.”
“Should I?” Chacko said. “Are they my responsibility?”
He said that Ammu and Estha and Rahel were millstones around his neck.

Related Characters: Ammu (speaker), Chacko Ipe (speaker), Rahel Ipe, Esthappen Yako Ipe (Estha)
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes

“D’you know what happens when you hurt people?” Ammu said. “When you hurt people, they begin to love you less. That’s what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.”

A cold moth with unusually dense dorsal tufts landed lightly on Rahel’s heart. Where its icy legs touched her, she got goosebumps. Six goosebumps on her careless heart.
A little less her Ammu loved her.

Related Characters: Ammu (speaker), Rahel Ipe
Related Symbols: Pappachi’s Moth
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 8 Quotes

Suddenly Ammu hoped that it had been him that Rahel saw in the march… She hoped that under his careful cloak of cheerfulness he housed a living, breathing anger against the smug, ordered world that she so raged against… The man standing in the shade of the rubber trees with coins of sunshine dancing on his body, holding her daughter in his arms, glanced up and caught Ammu’s gaze. Centuries telescoped into one evanescent moment. History was wrong-footed, caught off guard.

Related Characters: Rahel Ipe, Ammu, Velutha
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 11 Quotes

As the door was slowly battered down, to control the trembling of her hands, Ammu would hem the ends of Rahel’s ribbons that didn’t need hemming.
“Promise me you’ll always love each other,” she’d say, as she drew her children to her.
“Promise,” Estha and Rahel would say. Not finding words with which to tell her that for them there was no Each, no Other.

Related Characters: Rahel Ipe (speaker), Esthappen Yako Ipe (Estha) (speaker), Ammu (speaker), Rahel Ipe, Esthappen Yako Ipe (Estha), Ammu
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 13 Quotes

“Because of you!” Ammu had screamed. “If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be here! None of this would have happened! I wouldn’t be here! I would have been free! I should have dumped you in an orphanage the day you were born! You’re the millstones round my neck!”

Related Characters: Ammu (speaker), Rahel Ipe, Esthappen Yako Ipe (Estha), Ammu
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 16 Quotes

“Sophie Mol?” she whispered to the rushing river. “We’re here! Here! Near the illimba tree!”
Nothing.
On Rahel’s heart Pappachi’s moth snapped open its somber wings…
There was no storm-music. No whirlpool spun up from the inky depths of the Meenachal. No shark supervised the tragedy.
Just a quiet handing-over ceremony. A boat spilling its cargo. A river accepting the offering. One small life. A brief sunbeam. With a silver thimble clenched for luck in its little fist.

Related Characters: Rahel Ipe (speaker), Rahel Ipe, Sophie Mol
Related Symbols: Pappachi’s Moth
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 18 Quotes

Blue-lipped and dinner-plate-eyed, they watched, mesmerized by something that they sensed but didn’t understand: the absence of caprice in what the policemen did. The abyss where anger should have been. The sober, steady brutality, the economy of it all.
They were opening a bottle.
Or shutting a tap.
Cracking an egg to make an omelette.
The twins were too young to know that these were only history’s henchmen. Sent to square the books and collect the dues from those who broke its laws. Impelled by feelings that were primal yet paradoxically wholly impersonal. Feelings of contempt born of inchoate, unacknowledged fear – civilization’s fear of nature, men’s fear of women, power’s fear of powerlessness.

Related Characters: Rahel Ipe, Esthappen Yako Ipe (Estha)
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 19 Quotes

The twins looked up at her. Not together (but almost) two frightened voices whispered, “Save Ammu.”
In the years to come they would replay this scene in their heads. As children. As teenagers. As adults. Had they been deceived into doing what they did? Had they been tricked into condemnation?
In a way, yes. But it wasn’t as simple as that. They both knew that they had been given a choice. And how quick they had been in the choosing! They hadn’t given it more than a second of thought before they looked up and said (not together, but almost) “Save Ammu.” Save us. Save our mother.

Related Characters: Rahel Ipe (speaker), Esthappen Yako Ipe (Estha) (speaker), Rahel Ipe, Esthappen Yako Ipe (Estha), Ammu, Navomi Ipe (Baby Kochamma)
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 20 Quotes

There was very little that anyone could say to clarify what happened next. Nothing that (in Mammachi’s book) would separate Sex from Love. Or Needs from Feelings…
But what was there to say?
Only that there were tears. Only that Quietness and Emptiness fitted together like stacked spoons… Only that what they shared that night was not happiness, but hideous grief.
Only that once again they broke the Love Laws. That lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much.

Related Characters: Rahel Ipe, Esthappen Yako Ipe (Estha), Mammachi
Explanation and Analysis:

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Rahel Ipe Character Timeline in The God of Small Things

The timeline below shows where the character Rahel Ipe 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
Change vs. Preservation Theme Icon
Small Things Theme Icon
...India, and describes the humid jungle and the monsoons that come in June. In 1993 Rahel Ipe is returning to her childhood home in Ayemenem, where her great-aunt Navomi Ipe (whom... (full context)
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Indian Politics, Society, and Class Theme Icon
...hospital when their car broke down, so they had to take a bus. Estha and Rahel were almost born in the bus, and later they wished they had been, as they... (full context)
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...(when the twins are seven years old), to the funeral for Sophie Mol, Estha and Rahel’s cousin and the daughter of their uncle Chacko, Ammu’s sister. Sophie was visiting from England... (full context)
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...to Ayemenem, and now Estha walks around the old familiar places of the village. Since Rahel has returned, however, the quietness in Estha’s head has been broken by the sounds of... (full context)
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The story then follows Rahel after her separation from Estha. She lived with her uncle Chacko and grandmother Mammachi in... (full context)
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Rahel eventually went to an architecture college in Delhi, where she stayed for eight years without... (full context)
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Baby Kochamma questions Rahel suspiciously, but Rahel ignores her. Rahel looks out at the old pickle factory, Paradise Pickles... (full context)
Chapter 2: Pappachi’s Moth
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The narrative picks up in 1969 as Estha, Rahel, Ammu, Chacko, and Baby Kochamma drive in the family’s blue Plymouth to Cochin, where they... (full context)
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Small Things Theme Icon
...ex-husband’s name or her father’s name. Estha has his hair in an “Elvis puff,” and Rahel has her hair tied up in a band called a “Love-in-Tokyo.” She is wearing a... (full context)
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After Estha and Rahel were born, Ammu’s husband (Baba) tried to prostitute her to his boss in order to... (full context)
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Rahel thinks about the car and how on its roof is a sign advertising Paradise Pickles... (full context)
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...contains both Touchables and Untouchables, and it is full of palpable anger. In the Plymouth, Rahel sees Velutha (a young man she knows) holding a Marxist flag and she rolls down... (full context)
Indian Politics, Society, and Class Theme Icon
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...flag and making her wave it. When he leaves and the march ends Chacko asks Rahel if she really saw Velutha among the marchers, as that could mean trouble for the... (full context)
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Estha and Rahel blow spit bubbles in the car, which infuriates Ammu, as it reminds her of Baba.... (full context)
Chapter 3: Big Man the Laltain, Small Man the Mombatti
Family and Social Obligation Theme Icon
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Small Things Theme Icon
...Kochamma proudly predicts what he will do, as he has the same habits every day. Rahel follows him to his room, Ammu’s old room, which is obsessively clean. She watches Estha... (full context)
Chapter 4: Abhilash Talkies
Family and Social Obligation Theme Icon
Small Things Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
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...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. (full context)
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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... (full context)
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...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.”... (full context)
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Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
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...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... (full context)
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Indian Politics, Society, and Class Theme Icon
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 5: God’s Own Country
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The narrative returns to 1993, where Rahel discovers that the river has been reduced to a trickle and is too polluted to... (full context)
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Rahel walks around Ayemenem and Comrade Pillai greets her, asking about her husband and America. She... (full context)
Chapter 6: Cochin Kangaroos
Family and Social Obligation Theme Icon
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...the day of Sophie Mol and Margaret Kochamma’s arrival at the Cochin Airport. Ammu dresses Rahel in a special dress, and Rahel feels like an “Airport Fairy” ready for the “play”... (full context)
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...twins that they are “Ambassadors of India” so they must be on their best behavior. Rahel digs through the kangaroo trashcans and Estha is distracted by frightened thoughts of the Orangedrink... (full context)
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...to say “how do you do” and Ammu furiously promises him a punishment later. Meanwhile Rahel has disappeared behind a curtain and won’t come out, as she is afraid of Ammu’s... (full context)
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...him to put her down, and then they go to get her luggage. Estha coaxes Rahel out from the curtain and Ammu berates the twins about disobeying her in public. Baby... (full context)
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...loves Joe the most of anyone, and she doesn’t think of Chacko as her dad. Rahel then recites her list of who she loves most, which goes Ammu, Chacko, Mammachi, Velutha,... (full context)
Chapter 7: Wisdom Exercise Notebooks
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In 1993 Rahel looks through Pappachi’s study, where mounted moths and butterflies have disintegrated into dust. Rahel reaches... (full context)
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Rahel reads through the notebooks and laughs at their childlike stories. Under many of them Ammu... (full context)
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...Ammu had just been fired from her receptionist job for being sick too often, and Rahel had just been expelled from a school. Ammu bought Rahel presents fit for a seven-year-old,... (full context)
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Rahel never saw Ammu alive after that. Ammu died alone in a lodge at age thirty-one.... (full context)
Chapter 8: Welcome Home, Our Sophie Mol
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...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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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Kochu Maria boasts to Rahel that Sophie Mol will be the next Kochamma and make everything better, and Rahel gets... (full context)
Chapter 9: Mrs. Pillai, Mrs. Eapen, Mrs. Rajagopalan
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In 1993, Rahel explores the abandoned ornamental garden and thinks about how she has no plans or “Locusts... (full context)
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Rahel watches Estha in his room and thinks about the twins’ troubled past, which she thinks... (full context)
Chapter 10: The River in the Boat
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Vellya Paapen does not know that Estha and Rahel think of Kari Saipu’s house as the “History House,” though, or that it is there... (full context)
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Rahel goes in for her “Gnap” and lies awake until Ammu falls asleep. She imagines Estha... (full context)
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Estha and Rahel start singing an obscene song and Estha momentarily forgets the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man. Velutha returns... (full context)
Chapter 11: The God of Small Things
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Estha and Rahel start to climb all over Ammu’s body and kiss her, trying to bring her back... (full context)
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While Ammu is in the bathroom, the narrator elaborates on the bedroom (where Estha and Rahel still are), which Ammu would later be locked into until Chacko broke down the door... (full context)
Chapter 12: Kochu Thomban
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In 1993 Rahel approaches the Ayemenem temple, where the kathakali performers are asking forgiveness of the gods for... (full context)
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Rahel watches the story of Karna, and the actor playing Karna is high. She muses that... (full context)
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...only there to make him promise not to kill his brothers, who had insulted him. Rahel then notices that Estha has entered the temple as well. They stay all night as... (full context)
Chapter 13: The Pessimist and the Optimist
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Margaret Kochamma comes to irrationally hate Estha and Rahel for surviving, and in her grief she connects Estha with Sophie Mol’s death – which... (full context)
Chapter 16: A Few Hours Later
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A few hours later Estha and Rahel decide to run away, taking to heart Ammu’s words that they are “millstones around her... (full context)
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...debris floats past them. Then the boat hits a log and tips over. Estha and Rahel manage to swim to shore and grab a low-hanging tree, but Sophie Mol disappears. Rahel... (full context)
Chapter 17: Cochin Harbor Terminus
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Meanwhile Rahel is lying on Estha’s bed as he examines her body and face, which looks like... (full context)
Chapter 18: The History House
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...been abandoned by “God and History, by Marx, by Man, by Woman and… by Children.” Rahel tells Estha that it isn’t really Velutha, it’s his twin brother Urumban, but Estha won’t... (full context)
Chapter 19: Saving Ammu
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Afterward Estha and Rahel are at the police station with Inspector Thomas Mathew. They read the words on the... (full context)
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...that “childhood tiptoed out” and “silence slid in.” On the drive back home Estha tells Rahel she was right, it was actually Urumban, and Velutha had surely escaped to Africa. Velutha... (full context)
Chapter 20: The Madras Mail
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...the train to Madras. Estha looks out the window of the train at Ammu and Rahel. The twins won’t realize until years later Ammu’s role in “loving a man to death”... (full context)
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Meanwhile Ammu promises that she will see Estha soon, and she, Rahel, and Estha begin describing their dream house, and a school where the punishments fit the... (full context)
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...Then they have sex, once again breaking the “Love Laws,” “Quietness” and “Emptiness” (Estha and Rahel) naturally coming together in an expression of grief, not joy. (full context)