The popularity of Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things rests in manifold possibilities for interpretations of the novel as a polysemic text. This article is an ecofeminist reading of the novel with special focus on how the novelist utilizes various techniques reflecting modes of revolt of Nature in terms of the muted group theory and backchannel communication motifs. Another strategy utilized by the novelist is to apostrophize Nature and even the Earth at various instances with a view to communicate the pathos to the readers and dismantle dichotomies. Ammu stands analogous to the river that functions as a microcosm of the ecosystem. The survival instinct of female characters against patriarchy is outlined in the language of ecology, in a stance that emblematizes the dismantling of boundaries in the culture/nature dialectical pair. Roy encompasses the subaltern of the human race within the downtrodden, the predominant being the image of woman imprisoned in the presets of immanence, as the boundaries of civilization correspond to the constraints imposed by man on woman. Cartesian dualism is extended to the culture/nature dialectical pair. On another plane, the author refers to animals and plants that required a voice that told the story of Nature or of innate instinct through the medium of human beings: an inverted form of apologues where the story of humans was told through animals. Symbiotic relationships of nature gather strength as they are foregrounded by Roy through relations of metaphor and metonymy exhibiting underlying principles of kinship.
Concerns pertaining to ecofeminism are underscored in the novel, as the subjugation of women and the degradation of Nature function on a parallel plane. Ecofeminism, as a theory, has been widely advanced as one which argues that “the current global environmental crisis is a predictable outcome of patriarchal culture” (Salleh, 1988, p. 138). On a broader scale, the theory emphasizes the importance of interrelationships between humans and the natural environment (animals, plants, and the earth), and is now viewed in a larger perspective as a movement working against the interconnected oppressions of gender, race, class, and nature. In a bearing that blurs all these demarcations, the river in the novel stands as an eloquent metaphor for Ammu in its unchartered potential, potential undercurrents and its dormancy. In “The Power and the Promise of Ecological Feminism,” Karen J. Warren (1990) ascertains that any feminism, environmentalism, or environmental philosophy that fails to recognize important women–nature connections is simply inadequate. Although the word river is of neuter gender in the English language, it has always been attributed with feminine qualities in India, owing to its features of sustenance, creativity, and fertility. The motif appears to subvert the notion of man being the sole creator in the image of the transcendent God as signified by the creative pen–penis. The kinetic principle of the river stands for the fluidity and multiple possibilities inherent in the female genitalia as postulated by Luce Irigaray.
Numerous instances are cited by the novelist that illustrate the association between Ammu and the river. After the death of Ammu, the novelist asserts,
You couldn’t see the river from the window anymore. You could, until Mammachi had the back verandah closed in with Ayemenem’s first sliding-folding door. Though you couldn’t see the river from the house anymore, like a seashell always has a sea-sense, the Ayemenem house still had a river-sense. (Roy, 1997, p. 31)
The wild instincts Ammu inherited from her ancestors thrived in the genes and are transmitted to Rahel. Aleyooty Amma found it difficult to abandon the river, the author says. “Through the holes in her ears, you could see the hot river and the dark trees that bent to it” (Roy, 1997, p. 30). Even the vehicle they owned, the Plymouth, is characteristic of a fish. There are more evidences to demonstrate the river to be a metaphor of Ammu, the wronged woman:
The river was no more than a swollen drain now. (p. 124)
It was choked with a succulent weed, whose furred brown roots waved like thin tentacles under water. Bronze winged lily-trotters walked across it splay-footed, cautious. (p. 124)
So now they two harvests a year instead of one. More rice for the price of a river. (p. 44)
Many years later as Rahel encounters the river, she is reminded of how Ammu was choked to death by the callous patriarchal society:
Both things had happened. It had shrunk and she had grown. (p. 124)
Essay on Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things
452 Words2 Pages
Some believe that boundaries are made to be broken, that lines are meant to be crossed while others believe that we should “ not move an ancient boundary stone set up by [our] forefathers” (Proverbs 22:28). Everywhere we look, we come across a moral boundary that we at least think we should not cross, but cross nonetheless. “As ye sow, ye shall reap” is a familiar proverb we have all heard at one point in our lives (Roy 31). But is it true? Do we really get what we deserve? And if so, who then decides what is right and wrong? Who draws the line? Who sets the boundary? In Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, most of the characters cross a moral boundary, we see boundaries that are accommodated, confronted and even shattered.…show more content…
Throughout the novel it becomes virtually impossible to think of the twins Velutha and Estha as two separate individuals but as one person. Estha has many issues and emotions that he continually suppresses while Rahel is damaged mentally by her mothers crude, judgmental comments as well as neglect force her and Estha to rely merely on each other. These pent-up emotions only become unbearable and in a desperate attempt to release their emotions and express their feelings the two share intercourse which seemed to be the only escape, “Only that what they shared that night was not happiness, but hideous grief. Only that once again they broke the Love Laws. They lay down who should be loved” (311). The ever so discrete language and brief description in this scene could easily be overlooked. It brings a tone that isn’t in any way disturbing but necessary. It brings a sense of relief because the twins finally discover a way to truly become one in the most intimate way and share their pain with one another making the idea of incest almost obsolete the idea of the twins sharing something as powerful as intercourse becomes completely acceptable . However what makes something like incest acceptable but Estha’s encounter with Orangedrink Lemondrink Man burtal, unacceptable and viewed as severely breaking a boundary and crossing the line? “He got a cold bottle and a straw. So he held a bottle in one hand and a penis in the