The system of caste in India is a bond of union, but splits up the
society into sections. It revolves around the society's idea of what's
"clean" and "pure". It exists not only in the form of Touchability and
Untouchability but also gender difference and marital status. In
Kerala, the setting for The God of Small Things, the caste system is
deep-rooted; it has been made rigid by time and proliferated by the
colonial rule. As a result, inevitably, the caste system greatly
impacts the lives of the leading characters in the novel: Estha and
Rahel, Ammu and Velutha. In my essay, I am going to explore the nature
of the caste system and whom it affects.
The revulsion of Untouchability is so inherent in the post-colonial
society that even with the coming of the British, the untouchables in
general were not only unable "to escape the scourge Untouchability".
As Christians, "They were made to have separate churches, with
separate services, and separate priests" and it was considered "a
special favour (that) they were given their own separate Pariah
Bishop." Further more, "After Independence they found they were not
enititled to any Government benefits like job reservations or bank
loans at low interest rates, because officially, on paper, there were
(only) Christians, and therefore casteless."
The life of Velutha, an untouchable, is greatly impacted not only in
the way the other untouchables were. Since he was young, he had to
conform to acts of inferiority. He had to enter by "the back entrance
of the Ayemenem House to deliver the coconuts they [ Velutha and his
dad] had plucked from the trees in the compound" and was not allowed
into the ho...
... middle of paper ...
...een traditions and are afforded no real recognition as said in
what the novel calls "Locusts Stand I" or legal standing. Baby
Kochama, once again hated them for that. She called them "Half-Hindhu
Hybrids whom no self-respecting Syrian Christian would ever marry." As
a result, further on the novel, their lives were greatly affected by
The caste system on the whole traumatizes and affects Roy's
protagonist's life in an unhealthy way. It took away the twin's need
to belong to someone and their identity and, later on the novel, their
childhood. It cost Ammu her love and her freedom. It deprived Velutha
of a bright future and somehow caused his death. This way, Roy is able
to let the reader see the atrocities of the caste system in India and
be more aware about the stereotypes the society made to "different"
people. Two thumbs and two toes up for Roy!
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