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In the novel The God of Small Things by Arudhati Roy a relationship between a family is shown and the painful past comes through several memories and the presence of the caste system in India is used to juxtapose right vs. wrong. A very powerful closeness is observed between the two main characters and through their relationship one of the main themes of love through obscurity is showcased by the symbolism and diction used by Roy. Several other themes are shown in the novel and highlight the journey the human soul goes through in such trauma and desperation. The bond that the twins share and the manner in which they relate to others directly portray how humans can communicate on a deeper level. The lack of emotions or apathy that is expressed through this twins as a result of their past shows the pain that some endure as a result of other’s severe actions. The symbolism of emotions shone only through remembrance of the past and the repercussions that those reflections have on the present lives of those involved is illustrated through the story of the twins as well. This novel showcases a family struggling to overcome the tragic events of the past and how they are forced to heal with hurtful emotions and express pain through distinct bonds, apathy, and frequent flashbacks to a carefree time that was so full of opportunity and endless faith.
The bond that the twin’s share shows the severity of pain that some can experience and how close people, who have needs and desires, can become as a result. “When life was full of beginnings and no ends and everything was forever, Esthappen and Rahel thought of themselves together as me and separately as we or us” (Roy, 4). The twins are closer than most families and share a connection that bonds them emotionally as well as mentally and allows them to feel each other on another level. “Rahel and Estha are fraternal twins whose emotional connection to one another is stronger than that of most siblings” (Gale research). The events that have occurred to both of them throughout their lives have allowed them to mold nearly into one being for fear of the pain that could affect them both. “Their childhood household hummed with hidden antagonisms and pains that only a family member could have given one another”(Gale research). Blood is thicker than water, the feelings that they have are so consumed with hatred and deep sorrow and the concrete relationship they have created holds the pain away from each of their hearts and is much like a security blanket. They even sensed each other’s presence without words. “Chacko didn’t bother to wonder how she could possible have known that Estha was at the door. He was used to their sometimes strangeness” (Roy, 113). They are so close that they communicate without words. Sometimes, words are inadequate to express the overflow of emotions that accompanies the hurtful motions of life. The twins have found a way to show feeling without even talking and they are so in tune that they can understand each other through mere thoughts. A feeling of misunderstood, unexpressed torture is displayed through the unique method of communication the twins use to “talk”.
The rush of feeling that surges through a soul in times of trial is often not even fully understood by the person who is experiencing the pain. The presence of apathy and overcrowding of too many conflicting expressions is also shown through the twins. At opposite ends of the spectrum, when separated Rahel and Estha let the emotions take over in completely different ways. “Estha occupied very little space in the world…once the quietness arrived, it stayed and spread in Estha” (Roy, 13). Estha bottled up his feelings and buried them deep inside his fractured soul. The idea of sharing these memories and painful reminders with anyone but his soul mate upset him so badly he completely closed his entire being off to everyone and let the pain manifest itself in his mind and heart. “She sensed her children’s faces hanging over her dream, like two dark, worried moons, waiting to be let in”(Roy, 207). The children’s pain seems to stem back to their mother and her illicit affair with an “untouchable” and how it would affect them for the rest of their lives. Ammu, often focused on herself more than her impressionable offspring giving them a lesson in rejection early in life. When Rahel and Estha re-unite after a long separation it is mixed emotions and unsaid desires that lead to the tense energy that they share. “Rahel and Estha, who have become “Quietness and Emptiness” personified since their separation, now seek to reconnect like the “stacked spoons” they once were”(Gale research). The pressure of the reunion brings out the “dead” emotions and with the surfaced torture emotions are an all time high as they explore the distant past.
More interesting is the manner in which they revisit remorseful afflictions that have shaped who they have become. Through extreme symbolism and descriptive accounts of the past the roots to their shattered souls comes to the top in a nearly explosive manner. “Anyway, now she thinks of Estha and Rahel as Them, because, separately, the two of them are no longer what they were or ever thought they’d be”(Roy, 7). The potential they both had has long been destroyed and the hope that can be best characterized as a fighting flame on a candle in the surrounding wind of piercing pain is fighting continually to not extinguish forever. Through carefully dissecting the past they realize that because of the paths they have taken anything that was destined to be once upon a time can never materialize now. The universal theme of man vs. himself can also be observed because of the internal battles that are shown through the description of the perplexed twins. “Because whatever she was, he was too”(Roy, 35). The duality of their personalities blends to create one soul intensifying the emotions they individually experience but then re-create and experience all over again. “She has other memories too that she has no right to have”(Roy,8). They are so connected mentally that any thought that enters his head will echo through hers. The same is true of the feelings they intensify by sharing and manifesting inside one another.
The three different symbol that surface throughout the novel mean so much more than they are described as and all represent the challenges that one much overcome to endure and cope with extreme pain. Whether a person find sanctuary in another person or inside his or her own soul there is always hope for the soul you can save, your own. “The God of Small Things is a demanding novel that provokes many questions regarding the conflict between human desire and deep rooted emotions”(Gale research). The view of this family is highly aimed at everyone in some way and the pain they endure and how they learn to deal with tumultuous emotions that threaten every shred of dignity, ray of hope, and heart beat of love that lies inside every person.