The Evolution of Liberty and Equality in America

Categories: Liberty And Equality


As we delve into Arundhati Roy's "The God of Small Things," the exploration of societal complexities unfolds, revealing the intricate web of norms, prejudices, and historical influences that shape the characters' lives. This essay aims to dissect the multifaceted layers within the narrative, focusing on key themes such as extended metaphor, rigid class lines, Anglophilia, untouchability, prejudices, historical context, personal shame, societal roles, and shared memories.

Extended Metaphor

The narrative opens with a compelling extended metaphor, inviting readers to contemplate the transgressions committed by characters like Ammu, Estha, and others.

Breaking societal rules and tampering with love laws, the metaphor unfolds, encapsulating the characters' interactions and relationships within the rigid framework of societal expectations.

This metaphor not only sets the tone for the narrative but also serves as a lens through which the intricate societal dynamics are examined, prompting readers to question the consequences of venturing into forbidden territory and challenging established norms.

Expanding on this metaphor, it's essential to recognize the symbolism embedded in the act of breaking rules.

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Each character becomes a microcosm, challenging not just personal boundaries but societal constructs that dictate the course of their lives. The metaphor's richness lies in its universality, reflecting the human condition's perennial struggle against societal constraints.

An in-depth analysis unveils the layers of societal norms that characters confront. The metaphor becomes a narrative tool, allowing readers to empathize with the characters' rebellion against a system that seeks to define who should be loved and how.

Rigid Class Lines

Embedded within the storyline is the portrayal of Rahel and Estha's existence in a society defined by rigid class lines.

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The narrative sheds light on the commonly held view that places limitations on the position of a married or divorced daughter, reflecting the hierarchical structures that dictate individual worth within the community.

Baby Kochamma's outrage at the perceived lack of position for a divorced daughter, particularly from a love marriage, underscores the deeply ingrained prejudices against individuals who deviate from societal norms, intensifying the challenges faced by characters in their pursuit of happiness.

Delving deeper into the impact of rigid class lines, it's imperative to explore the psychological toll on characters like Rahel and Estha. The societal constraints not only dictate their social standing but also seep into their personal relationships, shaping their perceptions of self-worth and love.

By examining specific instances where class lines intersect with personal lives, such as Ammu's struggles as a divorced daughter, the narrative becomes a canvas portraying the complexities of societal expectations. The characters become symbols of resistance, challenging the established order and redefining their roles within the rigid framework.

Anglophilia and Social Status

The concept of Anglophilia emerges as a significant theme, weaving through the fabric of the characters' lives. The narrative unfolds the family's obsession with Western culture, encapsulated in Chacko's Oxford degree and the family's collective admiration for all things British.

However, the paradox of their Anglophilia becomes apparent as it not only defines their identity but also restricts them, pointing towards a broader commentary on the consequences of being enamored with a culture that holds them at a lower social status.

Expanding on this theme, it's crucial to delve into how the characters navigate the complex interplay between their admiration for Western ideals and the societal expectations imposed upon them. Chacko's Oxford degree, while symbolizing achievement, becomes a double-edged sword, alienating the family from their own cultural roots.

The narrative invites readers to question the nature of cultural influence and its implications on social status. How does the family's Anglophilia contribute to their sense of displacement within their own history? This exploration adds depth to the characters' struggles, highlighting the intricate balance between cultural assimilation and the preservation of identity.

Untouchability and Prejudices

The narrative takes a poignant turn as it delves into the discriminatory practices of untouchability. Pappachi's refusal to allow Paravans into the house unveils the deep-seated prejudices that permeate the social fabric. Descriptions of historical mistreatment and the dehumanizing rituals imposed on Paravans offer a glimpse into the pervasive nature of discrimination.

This exploration prompts readers to appreciate the deeply ingrained attitudes that fuel prejudice and hate within the novel, drawing parallels with broader societal issues.

Building on this theme, it's essential to analyze how the characters confront and internalize the prejudices associated with untouchability. The narrative becomes a mirror reflecting the societal norms that perpetuate discrimination, pushing characters like Rahel and Estha to question their roles within this oppressive system.

The exploration of untouchability becomes a lens through which readers can examine the profound impact of societal biases on individual lives. By unraveling the layers of discrimination, the narrative encourages a critical reflection on the consequences of prejudice and the potential for societal transformation.

Prejudices and Contempt

The narrative provides insight into characters like Baby Kochamma and Mammachi, who harbor prejudices against lower social classes. Baby Kochamma's shudder at the perceived smell of Paravans and Mammachi's visceral contempt for Ammu's relationship with Velutha showcase the extent of ingrained biases.

These moments serve as powerful illustrations of how societal prejudices can manifest in personal relationships, influencing characters' perceptions and actions with far-reaching consequences.

Expanding on this theme requires an examination of the emotional and psychological dimensions of contempt. Mammachi's repulsion towards Velutha and Baby Kochamma's disdain for Paravans reveal not only societal biases but also the deeply entrenched nature of contempt within the characters.

The narrative becomes a canvas for dissecting the roots of contempt and its impact on interpersonal relationships. By exploring these dynamics, readers gain a deeper understanding of the characters' internal conflicts, emphasizing the broader societal implications of unchecked prejudices.

Historical Context and Love Laws

The exploration of historical contexts adds depth to the narrative, questioning whether the characters' struggles originated with specific events or were set in motion by decisions and rules made thousands of years before. The narrative prompts readers to ponder the role of Love Laws, governing who should be loved, how, and to what extent.

This historical lens invites a nuanced understanding of the characters' predicaments, examining whether their fates are predetermined by a larger plan or shaped by the capriciousness of the world.

Building on this theme involves unraveling the layers of historical influences that permeate the characters' lives. The narrative becomes a historical tapestry, weaving together the threads of colonialism, cultural shifts, and societal norms that contribute to the characters' struggles.

By exploring the impact of Love Laws, the narrative delves into the intricacies of societal expectations and their enduring consequences. Readers are encouraged to reflect on the timeless nature of these laws, questioning their relevance and examining how they shape the characters' destinies.

Personal Shame and Guilt

The internalization of shame becomes a focal point as Estha grapples with the aftermath of his encounter with the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man. Despite external factors, Estha carries the burden of misplaced guilt, fearing potential disapproval from Ammu.

This exploration not only delves into individual psychology but also serves as a poignant reflection on how societal expectations can lead to the internalization of shame and self-blame.

Expanding on this theme involves an analysis of the psychological impact of shame on Estha's sense of self. The narrative becomes a study of how societal norms dictate personal perceptions, leading characters to internalize guilt even when undeserved.

The exploration of personal shame invites readers to reflect on the broader implications of societal expectations on individual well-being. By unraveling the layers of guilt, the narrative becomes a powerful commentary on the human tendency to carry the weight of societal judgments, even at the expense of personal happiness.

Roles and Realities

Rahel's revelation about societal roles being akin to a "play" disrupts the established order, highlighting the transformative impact of Sophie Mol's arrival. The shift in Rahel's perception, from a lead role to a background "nobody," underscores the destabilizing effect of societal expectations.

This revelation prompts readers to contemplate the fluid nature of societal roles and the impact of external influences on individual identities, offering a profound commentary on the fragility of established norms.

Expanding on this theme requires an exploration of how characters navigate the complexities of societal roles. The narrative becomes a reflection of the performative nature of societal expectations, prompting readers to question the authenticity of individual roles within the larger societal framework.

By dissecting specific instances where characters like Rahel grapple with their evolving roles, the narrative encourages readers to reflect on the malleability of societal expectations and their impact on individual agency.

The exploration of roles and realities becomes a lens through which readers can engage with the characters' struggles, offering insights into the profound consequences of societal expectations on personal identity and fulfillment.

Shared Memories and Joint Identity

The exploration of shared memories between Rahel and Estha adds a layer of complexity to their joint identity. Rahel's ability to remember events that happened to Estha but not to her speaks to the interconnectedness of their experiences and the depth of their understanding.

This shared memory becomes a poignant symbol of their bond, showcasing how their identities are intertwined, transcending individual experiences and contributing to a collective sense of self.

Expanding on this theme involves an analysis of how shared memories shape the characters' joint identity. The narrative becomes a study of the symbiotic relationship between individual experiences and collective understanding, emphasizing the strength of their connection.

By examining specific memories that bridge the gap between Rahel and Estha, the narrative invites readers to reflect on the profound nature of shared experiences. This exploration adds layers to the characters' relationship, showcasing the depth of their connection beyond the confines of individuality.

The shared memories become a narrative thread, weaving together the fabric of Rahel and Estha's joint identity, inviting readers to appreciate the intricacies of their bond and the transformative power of shared experiences.


In conclusion, "The God of Small Things" emerges as a rich tapestry woven with societal complexities, offering a nuanced exploration of extended metaphor, class lines, Anglophilia, untouchability, prejudices, historical influences, personal shame, societal roles, and shared memories. Through the lens of these themes, the narrative not only unravels the intricacies of individual lives but also invites readers to reflect on broader societal issues, prompting a deeper understanding of the human condition.

Updated: Jan 11, 2024
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The Evolution of Liberty and Equality in America. (2016, Feb 26). Retrieved from

The Evolution of Liberty and Equality in America essay
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