The Role of Gender in “The God of Small Things”
In the novel The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, the domination of women is a common theme that is manifested by each of the generation in the novel. Roy writes about the fraught social issues that plague Indian society; she wrote The God of Small Things after the caste system had been removed in India, but portrays how the caste system was outlawed but still ran India. Roy was raised to see the flaws in Indian society, and consequently wrote a novel with a message that showed the problems that exist and go unmentioned. Through the major theme of gender identity, Roy conveys a message that all people should be equal, and no caste system or gender bias should create a society that does not revolve around fairness and opportunities, no matter what the caste or sex of a person is.
Judith Butler’s theory of gender as a performance is extremely relevant to the characters in The God of Small Things who are forced to conform to society. The idea that gender is just a performance because society has created the illusion that in order to fit in one must suppress their inner desires and conform to society’s ideal image in order to survive in the world depicts the problems that make up favoring the first in a set of binary oppositions. Helene Cixous and Catherine Clement theorize how society views the importance of binary oppositions and their ordering has become a fact of life. Binary oppositions favor the first in the set, which is always the masculine, and subverts the second, the feminine. The masculine is always favored in society, but in Roy’s novel, the unpopular in the opposition is favored, depicting the flaws that exist within Indian society. Roy portrays gender inequality though her female characters which simply show how the women in Indian society evolved through three generations. Roy distinctly shows the problems that exist within the Indian society by writing about a relationship between a touchable and an untouchable who both end up dying due to their breaking of the Indian ‘Love Laws’. For Roy, suppression of the lesser and inequality throughout a nation is unacceptable. Roy makes it apparent that these issues need to be brought out into the spot light in order for a movement forward to take place. The God of Small Things challenges the patriarchy leading to changes in conventional notions of gender and sexuality in a patriarchal society.
Roy grew up in a Syrian Christian community, whose grandfather founded a school for untouchables, and her mother left their hometown of Kerala to marry a Bengali Hindu. (Friendman 118) Her mother ended up divorcing the Bengali Hindu and returning back to the hometown of Kerala with her children, where she then opened a co-educational school and “successfully challenged in court the Syrian Christian prohibition of female inheritance of family property.” (Friedman 118) Roy’s upbringing in a home where the women were not suppressed and ultimately fought for what they believed in is evident in her feminist writing. (Friedman 118) The differences that divide a nation are deep and intertwined, Friedman writesBorders of caste and class, gender, sexuality, and age criss-cross the house, legacies particularly of what Roy refers to as the ‘Love Laws’ embedded in the local, regional and national Indian cultures, formed both separately from and interactively with waves of religious and colonial interaction. (Friedman 118). The performances that are put on in order to continue as a functioning member of society are woven deep into the heritage of a country and a family. The God of Small Things makes it apparent how strong the borders that exist are and how difficult it is to rebel from a society that forces everyone to conform.
Gender is a forced role for the characters in The God of Small Things, and it exists simply as a defining social construct. The true gender of the characters is fabricated, because the characters in the novel would be cast out of Indian society if they acted in a manner other than the one that was expected of them. The women of the novel are forced to stay true to femininity in Indian society, or else the consequences are unacceptably harsh. Judith Butler writes that gender is a performance, and Roy depicts gender as a performance flawlessly through her female characters, along with the consequences that affect when the characters stray from the ideal path laid out for them.
The oldest generation in The God of Small Things focuses on the relationship between Mammachi and Pappachi. Mammachi was an extremely talented violinist who married Pappachi. When Mammachi’s violin teacher mentioned one day that Mammachi was extremely talented and had incredible potential and the possibility of becoming a famous violinist, Pappachi made Mammachi stop her lessons immediately. In this instance, Pappachi was fearful of Mammachi making more of herself than Pappachi of himself, therefore this results in the first instance of male domination in Mammachi’s marriage with Pappachi. Mammachi suffered years of physical abuse from Pappalchi. One day, their son, Chacko, stood up to Pappachi and that was the day the abuse stopped. From that point on Mammachi adored Chacko more than anyone and he became the center of her universe. She would allow Chacko to bring women of a different class in and out of a door she had specially installed for Chacko’s sexual needs to be fulfilled night after night. But, the double standard continued to be evident not only in Indian Society, but in the home of the Ipe family, where Ammu, Mammachi’s daughter was treated unfairly compared to her brother Chacko, who Mammachi idolized.
The abuse that Mammachi underwent by her husband influenced her in a strange way, “At Pappachi’s funeral, Mammachi cried until her contact lenses slid around in her eyes. Ammu told the twins that Mammachi was crying more because she was used to him than because she loved him.” (Roy 49) The static nature of Mammachi’s life is apparent, making it obvious that she hated the idea of change, even if that change was the death of her abusive husband. Mammachi performs as a woman who lost her loving husband at his funeral simply because she was used to her role as a submissive woman who lowered herself to accept her husband’s demeaning nature towards her for the entirety of their marriage. Mammachi finally had the opportunity to start a life that would not be controlled by her husband, but she would never be able to truly escape the abuse that was inflicted mentally on her by Pappachi’s physical beatings and the end he put to her career as a violinist. The tears Mammachi cried at Pappachi’s funeral were tears of emptiness simply because she felt she was bound to him by the love they were supposed to have for each other from marriage. If there was anyone who ever watched Mammachi and saw the reality of her life it was Ammu, who was regarded as second in her mother’s eyes allowing her to get a bird’s eye view of her mother’s complete personality. Mammachi’s identity was founded through Pappachi, and there would never be enough time or help to make Mammachi feel like she was more than a submissive woman to her power hungry husband.
Ammu could never live up to Chacko in the eyes of Mammachi because Chacko was the reason she was saved from her husband’s years of abuse. Once Mammachi is no longer controlled by Pappachi, she subconsciously allowed herself to be controlled by Chacko by doing everything in her power to make him happy. Mammachi is by far the most submissive woman character in the novel because she feels she needs to worship a male figure in her life, whether that male figure is her husband or her son, Mammachi made sure to make her life revolve around their pleasure and happiness. Ammu ended up marrying a drunk and having twins with him, but eventually leaving him because he was an abusive drunk. Ammu’s character seems to be inspired by Roy’s mother. This portrayal of Ammu is similar to that of Roy’s mother who left her husband “in a love match” and moved back to her hometown of Kerala. (Freidman 118) Unlike Mammachi, Ammu learned not to take the abuse from a man who was her husband, but still took the oppression that Indian society placed upon women, simply because she had no control over the Indian government, but Ammu made sure to test the limits of the love laws in India. Ammu spent the beginning years of her life playing the role of the woman her Indian culture wanted her to be, but once she showed her dominance in her relationship with her abusive husband she began to rebel against the patriarchy’s norm for women. Her performance was changing slightly allowing Ammu remove herself from Indian society in a dangerous way.
Ammu spent her life on the family Pickle Preserve, spending time with the people who thej family had working for them. One man in particular, Velutha, grew up working for the family at the pickle preserve business and even though he belonged to a different social caste, they treated him more as one of their own than a member of the untouchable society: “Here the talented and kindly Velutha breaks the boundaries of untouchability by running the factory, overseeing the lower-caste workers resentful of his uncasted authority, serving as a surrogate father to the twins.” (Friedman 118) When Ammu and Velutha were older they fell in love, and defied the love laws the Indian government had set in place when they had sex to fulfill the love they had for each other. With Velutha belonging to the untouchable caste, and Ammu belonging to the touchable caste, this was unheard of and did not end well. Velutha was betrayed by Estha and Rahel and he was beat, nearly to death by the police, and died shortly after. Velutha, belonging to a different Caste in the Indian society ended up losing his life because he was lower than a woman in Indian Society, and therefore oppressed more than Ammu. Ammu’s rebellion against the patriarchy results in her own death when she is sent away after sleeping with Velutha and her family name is tarnished by her actions. However, the difference in generations here is major in depicting the evolution of binary oppositions within the novel. Mammachi puts up with years of abuse by Pappachi, where Ammu leaves her abusive drunk of a husband and raises the twins on her own, and takes it upon herself to rebel against the patriarchy. However, Rahel, the female twin, seizes her life when she gets the chance, but by then it is too late for her to live a life of simplicity because her innocence was taken from her and destroyed.
Growing up, Rahel had no place in society except with her brother. Rahel and Estha were extremely close growing up and this created a bond that continued to grow over the years. Rahel grows up to be a free woman because she was not raised like any of the previous generations. Rahel grew up alongside her brother belonging to the higher caste and was able to roam freely and do as she pleased. She was raised only by her mother and this allowed for her to never be truly influenced by the patriarchy because she was raised to be an equal to her bother, and was not raised by a father. Ammu provided the twins with everything they needed and her differing attitude from Mammachi is evident in the rearing of her children. Ammu also lived in a home where the double standard was evident, being that it was okay for Chacko to bring women of different castes in and out of the home they lived in because Mammachi wanted Chacko to be please in every way because he saved her from Pappachi. However, the reader sees the difference between Chacko and Ammu when Ammu is severely punished for sleeping with Velutha.
Rahel grows up and ends up moving away after the horrific death of her mother and the beating death of Velutha, who she viewed as a father figure her whole life. She moved away and began a life of her own, making her the most free out of all the women in the novel. Rahel is the most free, by far, but Ammu died for her freedom, and she was a major contributing factor in creating thee individual that Rahel grew up to be. However, Rahel is not completely free from her oppression, and the reader sees this in her breaking of the love laws with her brother Estha.
The last scene Roy writes including Rahel and Estha portrays the two having sex, in the most poetic way incest can be portrayed. Estha and Rahel lost their innocence at a young age: “By then Esthappen and Rahel had learned that the world had other ways of breaking men, they were already familiar with the smell, sicksweet. Like old roses on a breeze” and the only person they were ever able to turn to for comfort was each other. (Roy 15) The foreshadowing in the novel begins in the first chapter when Roy writes that they were already familiar with the other ways of breaking men, referencing the love between Velutha and Ammu. The twins saw the way man could be destroyed with the two people they were closest to other than themselves. But, before they learned the fate of Velutha and Ammu, Estha learned one of the harsh realities of the world on a day that was supposed to be magical for him and Rahel. Estha lost his innocence when the orange drink lemon drink man molested him, and Rahel also lost her innocence on that day when she knew that something terrible and unspeakable and happened to her brother. If molestation was not enough, the twins were also present for the death of Sophie Mol. In the final moments the audience sees Rahel and Estha together, the incestuous act is not viewed as entirely negative because it is obvious it is the one and only true moment in the twins’ lives that they feel whole. They found completion within on another, but thus could not have been done without breaking the love laws. The biggest performance in the novel is between the two queered figures in the novel, being Rahel and Estha. The entire novel makes the twins’ characters into the two figures who play the role of a male and a female in Indian society in more of a skewed sense than any of the other characters in the novel. Roy portrays them in a favorable manner making it easy to sympathize with these characters. The empathy that Roy makes the reader feel for Estha and Rahel makes it easy to find the flaws in Indian Society and to hope for a change to come about and alter the unacceptable harshness that is conveyed through the image of Indian society Roy explicitly depicts.
Ammu was never able to beat oppression and her life, after finally being satisfied by her one true love, was ended, but she paved the path for her children to get one step closer to removing society’s binary oppositions. As for Rahel and Estha, the reader does not know what happens to them after the last moments that are mentioned in the book, but it does prove that the only way to completely overcome the hardships that life throws at them they must break the most important societal laws to find happiness within themselves. The happiness they provide themselves with also provides happiness to the other party, but it does not usually end well. Going against societal taboos is a major theme for Roy in her novel, but it also demonstrates the importance of the strength that relationships with others who friendships are okay to exist with but relationships are not fine to exist with play out.
The first instance in the novel of the breaking of what Roy calls the ‘Love Laws’ occurs at the theatre, when Estha is molested by the orange drink lemon drink man. This assault results in “seperate[ing] the two-egg twins into differently gendered destinies.” (Freidman 121) Another instance, in the novel, where the ‘Love Laws’ are broken occurs this time with both of the twins. Twins break the ‘Love Laws’ when they engage in incestuous relations in “the connection of souls figured in the anguish of touch.” (Freidman 121) After the twins lives of suffering, they finally reunite in a way that connects them on a level that defies the laws society has put in place over time, but it is the once time in the novel where the twins feel complete. The only way the twins could find themselves complete was to engage in the sexual act that defies all of society’s standards, because their entire lives they had been beaten down by the consequences of societal norms. Friedman writes
Just alive to suffer through the consequences of his transgression to see the child he befriended deny him and the family he enriched denounce him. But not long enough to see the woman he loved stand by him, this condemning herself to exile and slow death, a modern immolation of the woman with the ‘Unsafe Edge’. (Friedman 122) Velutha and Ammu had a tragic ending, simply because they could no longer resist the urge to love each other, and this resulted in the disastrous ending of both their lives, and symbolically ended the lives of Estha and Rahel who admired both Velutha and Ammu unconditionally.
After the deaths of Velutha and Ammu, the twins never found comfort again in any aspect of their lives. When Ammu, Rahel and Estha shared a moment together after the death of Veluthra “Estha nodded down at Ammu’s face tilted up to the train window. At Rahel, small and smudged with station dirt. All three of them bonded by the certain, separate knowledge that they had loved a man to death.” (Roy 306) Ammu was not the only one in love with Velutha. The twins looked up to Velutha and his father figure in their lives was monumental and he shaped them into the individuals they were up until that point in their lives. His influence would live on in their lives for the rest of time, making it difficult for them to lose the love they had for the man who always had time for them. The death of Velutha showed the twins the nasty ways the world betrays and its unforgiving nature. The twin’s identities were influenced greatly by the cruel natured world that ultimately controls even the patriarchy. The death of Velutha was a death that no one imagined, but the reader needed to see in order to understand the dynamic of the cruel world that molded and laid out the future for Ammu, Rahel and Estha.
Rahel moved away and Estha stopped speaking and lost the last glimmer of innocence he was blessed with. The only time after these horrific events the twins felt comfort in their cruel world, was when they were able to engage in sexual act together. Finally, they were able to find comfort in a world that had only provided them with heartbreak and revealed to them what was truly wrong with human nature and society’s views on love. The death of Ammu and Velutha crushed Rahel and Estha, making it simply impossible to ever truly move on from such a terrible ending of the two people they loved most.
Judith Butler strongly advocates for the differences in gender to be regarded as arbitrary and that all people should be treated with equality. “If the inner truth of gender is a fabrication and if a true gender is a fantasy instituted and inscribed on the surface of bodies, then it seems that genders can be neither true nor false, but are only produced as the truth effects of a discourse of primary and stable identity.” (Butler 583) For Butler, gender is simply instituted by society and a specific gender, according to society, is too often inflicted upon the sex it is mainly associated with. For instance, masculinity is automatically a male quality, even if some women obtain masculine traits. Women are automatically associated with feminine characteristics, and if either sex is to stray from one or the other they are viewed as others who are not following the heterosexual norm society has put in place. As Butler also writes
“Acts, gestures, and desire produces the effect of an internal core or substance, but produce this on the surface of the body, through the play of signifying absences that suggest, but never reveal, the organized principle of identity as a cause. Such acts, gestures, enactments, generally construed, are performative in the sense that the essence or identity that they otherwise purport to express are fabrications manufactured and sustained through corporeal signs and other discursive means.” (Butler 583)
Gender identity should come from the acts and gestures that a person choses to perform, not by the sex they were biologically assigned at birth. In The God of Small Things, it is easy to see that Roy believes the overwhelming theme in her book is that lack of identity for Estha and Rahel. Roy writes “In those early amorphous years when memory had only just begun, when life was full of beginnings and no endings, and everything was forever, Esthappen and Rahel thought of themselves together as me, and separately, individually, as we or us. As though they were a rare breed of Siamese twins physically separate, but with joint identities.” (Roy 29) There is a stress on the significance of Rahel and Estha being dizygotic twins, meaning two separate, but they seem in some instances Siamese twins, attached at the hip, as two beings moving as one until their innocence is lost. Up until the day of Estha’s molestation, Rahel and Estha were almost identically the same person. The day the loss of innocence occurred, separate individualized identities.
In Margaret Homan’s essay “Women of Colour”, she references Butler frequently, and agrees on many occasions with statements Butler has made about gender identity and feminism. Homan agrees with Butler that there should not be an identity imposed on a person, rather identity should arbitrary. Homans points out that Butler also argues that “Identity” is a category that imposes a false coercive unity, just white, middleclass, western feminism itself has been accused of imposing one interpretive friend on the multiplicity of female lives by privileging the category “woman” over those of race, ethnicity, class, nationality, age, and so on. Identity, like some kinds of white feminism, must be done away with because of what it excludes. (Homans 679) There should be no identity found just in being a unity. Identity should be on an individualized basis, and it should be inclusive not exclusive. The only characters in The God of Small Things who did not experience this labeling of genders were Rahel and Estha because they were one in the same. The twins lived through one another and it did not matter that one was male and the other was female, ultimately there were no gendered boundaries between the two of them. Ammu never made them feel they had to act a certain way because of the gender that is automatically assigned to their biological sex. In Luce Irigaray’s essay “The Blind Spot of an Old Dream”, the main question she is addressing is: Why do we assign a specific gender to a specific sex? The issues for Irigaray goes back to Frued and his theory that even when women are in the role of having power, they do not enjoy that power and they are simply doing it to keep nature flowing. For example, Irirgaray attacks Frued’s belief that women who breast feed cannot find pleasure in nourishing another human being that they created by saying “Any consideration of pleasure in breast-feeding seems here to be excluded, misunderstood, under silent ban.” (Irigaray 647) A woman is the vessel that creates new life and nourishes that life until it is ready to enter the world. Anyone who creates new life is living an extremely active role, and the woman is the one who gives birth to the next patriarchy. A woman being active in this role is certainly not just a role she takes on and does not find pleasure in. Freud argues: “The point being that man is the procreator, that sexual production-reproduction is referable to his “Activity” alone, to his “project” alone. Woman is nothing but the receptacle that passively receives his product, even if sometimes, by the display of her passively aimed instincts, she has pleaded, facilitated, even demanded that it be placed within her” (Irigaray 647). However, Irigaray does not agree with this way of thinking under any circumstances. Irigaray proceeds to argue that a gender cannot be defined by the activity or the passivity of a person. Creating a human needs a strong person, and the person creating humans is the woman who grows the child inside her for nine long months. To Freud this seems like a passive role, but during those nine months the woman is expected to continue her duties as she would if she were not pregnant, while having a parasite sucking the nutrients out of her body growing insider her. There is no correct measurement of activity and passivity in each gender, but rather in the person themselves. A man can be very active and have many masculine qualities, but a woman can also be just as active and have feminine qualities. Those feminine qualities do not make the woman any less of an active person simply because she is associated with femininity.
In The God of Small Things, Ammu enjoys her role as mother of the twins even when they are trying on her nerves. Ammu takes pride in her duty as a mother because she saves her children from their abusive father, and she gives them a better life than they would have had if they continued to live with him. Ammu’s active nature in her children’s lives is enjoyed by her because she holds all the power in their lives and chose to hold the power for the pleasure of being able to watch her children grow. Ammu is the woman Freud pretended did not exist. Ammu was extremely active in her children’s lives and that did not detract from her feminine qualities. From a different perspective, Mammachi loves her role of mother, at least being a mother to Chacko because she created a life that is the symbol of the patriarchy and holds enough power to control her life and the lives around him. Mammachi was not an active woman character, fit the gender role given to women very nicely because she let her husband do whatever he wanted with her and her life.
For Helene Cixous and Catherine Clement, gender is a label that is to be rejected completely. These two women show their rejection through dual hierarchical oppositions. In their examples of binary oppositions, each set listed demonstrates how the masculine is always first in the pair and the feminine second. For example, “Activity/ passivity, Sun/ moon, Culture/ nature, Day/ night, Father/ Mother, Head/ Heart.” (Cixious and Clement 654) The words associated with masculinity in these pairs always comes first, however, the rejection of these ideas society has paired with one another shows they should be disputed and masculinity and femininity should not be broken down into separate spheres. Roy favors the queer figure in the novel, and values their differences. Straight is not privileged in Roy’s eyes because she is depicting the differences that exist in the world and how they are unfair. Cixious and Clement do not agree with binary oppositions. Different qualities exist and there is always going to be an opposite of each term, but one should not be favored over the other. Roy favors the incestuous relationship of Rahel and Estha, and she favors the uniting of a touchable and an untouchable through her depiction of Ammu and Velutha. Mammachi’s conforming nature gives a good starting point for the reader to understand how these binary oppositions are addressed in the novel.
The irony that lies in the novel surrounding gender differences is hugely influential. The differences that existed between Chacko and Ammu were unfair, and being raised in a home where unfair treatment was evident, Ammu raised her twins differently. Ammu raised Rahel and Estha equally, never favoring one over the other, like her mother did with her and Chacko. Chacko is the ultimate symbol of the patriarchy within the Ipe family. However, for Ammu, her power was unrecognizable, except to herself and her children who she raised to be each other’s equal, something she never had with Chacko. Since Chacko ruled the Ipe home, he symbolized the patriarchy. The patriarchy is free to do as it pleases, but when someone under control of the patriarchy goes against the demands of the patriarchy they are severely punished. Unfortunately, the double standard that existed in the Ipe house, also existed in Indian society and Ammu suffered not only under her home rule, but also under her government rule because she was a woman. Ammu slept with one man of a different caste and was sent into exile which resulted in her death, whereas Chacko slept with many women belonging to a different caste and he was only rewarded with more women to be used for his sexual desire only. Ammu’s love with Velutha meant nothing because she had realtions with a man of a different caste, and Chacko’s sexual desires were portrayed in the Ipe home as more of a necessity than the love Ammu and Velutha shared
Roy covered an array of societal taboos in her novel, and chooses Ammu to be her strong female character. Ammu is faced with many challenges, and her character is so strong that she is the reason the novel is tried for obscenity. Ammu is the first generation of women in novel to be independent and not submit herself to the demands of a male figure in the novel. Ammu chooses to follow her heart, and ultimately her strong will results in her death. Ammu’s dominant woman figure does not end well for her character because her actions defy the patriarchy which was unacceptable in India at the time, although the double standard did exist, Ammu was not able to escape the wrath of the patriarchy. However, Ammu’s influence on her daughter Rahel is apparent in Rahel’s decision to move away and make something of herself after her mother’s death; unlike her brother, Estha, who stayed in India and chose to be a passive character and not take on a role that would benefit him. The twins in the novel seem to have a reversal in what makes them adhere to their societal assigned gender. Rahel is by far the more active character in the novel, and Estha is clearly the more passive character who seems to just let life pass him by. However, there is a unifying element that transforms both characters and allows them to feel the strengths and pains of each other through the intimate touch they share. For a moment the twins were one and then they were sent back to their overwhelming reality, but Roy demonstrates the significance of switching genders in the novel, and that is that it does not seem to the reader that Estha is any less of a man because he is the more passive of the twins, and that Rahel is any less of a woman because she is the more active of the two. If anything, this shows how irrelevant gender is and that it is just a societal cliché.
The evolution of the importance of binary oppositions changes as each generation tests them to a new degree. Roy favors valuing the second in the binary oppositions and showing the negative aspects of how binary oppositions are viewed. With each generation in the novel, the characters are moving farther away from the binary opposition’s formalities as Roy starts to show the slow progression of accepting people who do not fit society’s idea of feminine and masculine. Mammachi, falling most passive of all the women characters in the novel starts the progression and is the baseline for the transitioning generations to come. Once Mammachi’s example is laid out for Ammu, she does not allow herself to get caught up in a relationship with a man who is going to treat her like her mother was treated, so she flees and takes on the role of an active, concerned mother. However, Roy’s biggest evolution within the generations is developed through Estha and Rahel. Their relationship depicts the importance of not relying on the binary oppositions and social construct, and deconstructing the norm in order to define society individually and not by a label. The God of Small Things gives hope to the idea that one day binary oppositions and social construct will not be as limiting, but the progression of time in which this will be able to happen will take numerous decades and will not be an quick fix. Roy’s empathetic writing of the love Ammu and Velutha share and the love Rahel and Estha share hardens the idea that a forbidden love might not always be a bad love. It also shows that a forbidden love is a love that needs to be accepted before it can be rejected.
Ultimately, the characters in the novel struggle with identity and independence from a dominant patriarchal society that controls everyone and everything. The ups and downs in the novel are caused by severe consequences that the cruel reality of the world inflicts upon them. From the molestation by the orange drink lemon drink man to the death of Velutha and Ammu all because their love was forbidden, the novel pulls at the reader’s heartstrings. The novel represents an accurate depiction of the lives of two children who do not have a chance at avoiding the world’s cruelty. From the beginning, Estha and Rahel could never truly survive the world, and in the end they could not even survive it together as two people. From the perspective of gender theory, identity should not depend on the sex a person is born with and for the twins they defy that notion through their role reversal in active and passive. When looking into queer theory, the relationship that Estha and Rahel share takes center stage. Their incestuous relationship results in a dynamic that alters the reader’s perception of queer theory by throwing the major taboo of incest and showing how this physical relationship unites both of them.
Arundhati Roy challenges the patriarchy and most ideas the society has made taboo or frowns upon in some way. Roy’s favoring of the unfavorable creates the hope for a future that will not rely on binary oppositions and their normal order to control society, instead gender norms will no longer exist and gender freedom will be explored within society as a whole rather than behind closed doors. The God of Small Things is revolutionary and depicts the harsh realities in the world by simply showing the destruction of a family.
Butler, Judith. “From Interiority to Gender Performatives.” Global Literary Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Richard J. Lane. New York: Routledge, 2013. 581-87. Print. Butler, Judith. “More Gender Trouble: Feminism Meets Queer Theory.” Differences: A Journal Of Feminist Cultural Studies 6.2-3 (1994): MLA International Bibliography. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.Cixous, Helene, and Catherine Clement. “Sorties: Out and Out: Attacks/Ways Out/forays.” Global Literary Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Richard J. Lane. New York: Routledge, 2013. 653-64. Print.Friedman, Susan Stanford. “Feminism, State Fictions And Violence: Gender, Geopolitics And Transnationalism.” Communal / Plural: Journal Of Transnational & Crosscultural Studies 9.1 (2001): 111-129. Academic Search Complete. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.Homans, Margaret. “Women of Colour.” Global Literary Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Richard J. Lane. New York: Routledge, 2013. 673-89. Print.Irigaray, Luce. “The Blind Spot of an Old Dream.” Global Literary Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Richard J. Lane. New York: Routledge, 2013. 643-52. Print.Lane, Richard J. Global Literary Theory: An Anthology. New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.Nusser, Tanja. “Are Feminism And Gender Studies Really Growing Old? Reassessments Of A Discourse.” Women In German Yearbook: Feminist Studies In German Literature & Culture 30.(2014): 138-148. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.Roy, Aundhati. The God of Small Things. New York, NY, Random House Trade Paperbacks, 1997.
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