Corporeality Gender and Race Positioning: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

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In The God of Small Things, Roy ingeniously exposes and denounces the politics of the subaltern through questions of corporeality gender and race positioning. She does so, however, in a way that escapes facile dichotomous divisions and obvious essentialist oppositions. At the core of her critique is a social and cultural system that not only stifles individual freedom and social mobility but also, and above all, represses the expressions of the body and the discourses of desire. Arundhati Roy successfully builds a narrative that focuses on bodily encounters that defy authoritative discourses and function as frontiers of cultural and social contacts. “Edges, Borders, Boundaries, Brinks and Limits” (Rao, Pg. 5) are depicted as loci devised by a web of socio-historical relations that the narrative undermines and revises. Roy’s characters, both male and female, and their various forms of displacement, question the cultural inscriptions of the ‘disembodied’ body, thus giving evidence to the permeability of the corporeal entities that are inevitably socially regulated. The maltreatment of the subaltern is one of the major issues in the novel. The term ‘subaltern’ was popularized by Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist in the 1920s and 1930s as a surrogate for the term ‘proletarian class’ in order to counter Fascism. In India, the term was catapulted by the Subaltern Studies Collective writing in 1982 on Southern Asian history and society from a ‘subaltern perspective’. In the preface to Subaltern Studies, Volume I, Ranjit Guha propounded a working definition of ‘subaltern’. “The word subaltern…stands for the meaning as given in the Concise Oxford Dictionary that is of inferior rank. It will be used as a name for the general attitude of ... ... middle of paper ... ...tment of the subaltern in her novel triggers the mnemonic of a colonial India. Nevertheless, she urges them to shatter all conventions of the traditional society in order to fetch an identity for themselves. By her treatment of the subaltern, she raises a moot question about their pitiable position in Indian society, but fails in her effort to give them their voice. Works Cited Roy, Arundhati. “The God of Small Things”. Delhi: Random Publishing House. 2008. Print. Guha, Ranjit. “Subaltern Studies: Writings in South Asian History and Society”. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. 1982. Print. Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty; “Can the Subaltern Speak?: Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture”. Chicago: Illinois University Press. 1988. Print. Roy, Amitabh; “The God of Small Things: A Novel of Social Commitment”. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishing House. 2005. Print.

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