Monday, 27 August 2018

The God of Small Things: the descriptions and choice of verbs/ adjectives

In the previous blog post about The God of Small Things, I wrote about the prose and imagery. Here is something else I love about Arundhati Roy’s novel—the descriptions, and the clever use of verbs or adjectives for humans for animals, plants, or objects. 
From chapter 1: 
“In the old house on the hill, Baby Kochamma sat at the dining table rubbing the thick, frothy bitterness out of an elderly cucumber.” 
(emphasis mine, as for the rest of the blog post) 
“Only the vines kept growing, like toe-nails on a corpse. They reached through the nostrils of the pink plaster gnomes and blossomed in their hollow heads, giving them an expression half surprised, half sneeze-coming.” 
From chapter 4: 
“A swathe of dirty yellow sponge spilled out and shivered on the backseat like an immense jaundiced liver.” 
From chapter 5: 
“The slow ceiling fan sliced the thick, frightened air into an unending spiral that spun slowly to the floor like the peeled skin of an endless potato.” 
From chapter 7: 
“A column of shining black ants walked across a windowsill, their bottoms tilted upwards, like a line of mincing chorus girls in a Busby Berkeley musical silhouetted against the sun. Butted and beautiful.” 
“Laughter curled around the edges of Rahel’s voice.” 
“The steel door of the incinerator went up and the muted hum of the eternal fire became a red roaring. The heat lunged out at them like a famished beast. Then Rahel’s Ammu was fed to it.” 
From chapter 8: 
“Wolves. Flowers. Iguanas. Changing shape as the sun moved through the sky. Dying punctually, at dusk.” 
“The day that Chacko prevented Pappachi from beating her (and Pappachi had murdered his chair instead), Mammachi packed her wifely luggage and committed it to Chacko’s care.” 
Escaped wisps of hair were recaptured and returned to white headscarves.” 
From chapter 10: 
“It leaned backwards as though the letters were reluctant to form words, and the words reluctant to be in sentences.” 
“In the factory the silence swooped down once more and tightened around the twins. But this time it was a different kind of silence. An old river silence. The silence of Fisher People and waxy mermaids.” 

The God of Small Things is so beloved and acclaimed not because of the tragedies, not for the damning depiction of the caste system, patriarchy, and inequalities, in India. Its power is in the striking imagery, in the author’s bold choice of words and ability to evoke smells and feelings, in the mood and atmosphere, in the haunting sadness.


  1. i haven't read this. it seems poetic, though... no wonder he's a successful author...

    1. Oh Arundhati Roy's a woman.
      The God of Small Things was published in 1997 and she got a Man Booker Prize for it, but she didn't have another novel until The Ministry of Utmost Happiness in 2017.
      I heard that the 2nd one wasn't that good, but I don't know.

    2. see me blush... i didn't know that, obviously... that shows how much attention i pay to modern literature... not much, evidently... oh well, tx for the information: now i know something i didn't yesterday...

    3. Haha. That's all right.
      Do you think you'd like to read this book?
      I don't read much contemporary literature either, but I do generally know who's who, who's famous now, etc.

    4. There is a as well. I accidentally reached it while looking for you.

  2. Yeah, I knew about it some time after getting the new URL.

    1. Hope you are well. How are you? heh.

    2. I'm all right. Been working on a script and making short films/videos.
      How are you?

    3. I am good. Thanks. Nursing an injured foot (but nothing to write home about). :) Are those videos/films available for general viewing anywhere?

      What's the script about?

    4. Why is your foot injured?
      The videos are on vimeo but the links are on my blog. The latest one has been uploaded.

    5. Very Sisyphean. Excellent!

    6. Oh, there is a little swelling on my heel. Guess cause i walk in my slippers. It's better now. Thanks for asking. :)

    7. Haha thanks.
      This is something else I made:
      I hope your foot isn't anything serious.

  3. Not bad. Not bad at all. But the best i liked was the footnote: "No plant was harmed during the making of this video." Man (as a race, of course) is a funny animal. He would destroy entire jungles and then become squeamish about harming a few plants.

    It's just a swelling of Achilles' tendon. Nothing serious.

    IS the script ready yet?

    1. Hahahahhaa.
      Okay. Why did that happen to your foot?
      The script isn't done, and you're not gonna read it, because I want to film it.

    2. Because i walk everywhere. And in my slippers. Also because i had this pair which i kept using even after it was worn out. Merely because i thought they looked good on me. Mind you they were red in color. Heh. ;)

      That's too bad. I like to read scripts. Especially the directions. :(