A Present for Our Childhood

The God of Small Things is a magical book. Till the point I’ve read, I am extremely impressed by the vivid descriptions of little Estha and Rahel. Their thoughts and behaviors are simple and predictable that you can tell their age without any hint. I feel like the author put much efforts in inserting those details which make these two children alive in our head.

My favorite chapter is the one talking about their trip to the theater, besides the part which Estha got abused for sure. When I started reading these pages, I can’t stop laughing since I recall many interesting moments in my childhood. On page 91, it depicts the scene of Estha’s first solo peeing. Perhaps, because of we shared almost the same experience, I like Estha’s idea of stepping on something to pee into the higher one rather then the lower one. The author even talked about the habit of aiming the mothballs which were available in my primary school toilets. Another example is on page 95 where it’s said Rahel don’t have the weight to stabilize the fold chair. This was also something that happened to me long time ago. Just like what Rahel did, I’d choose to sit like a sandwich or use my arm to push the chair during the movie. There are tons of such funny moments scatter in the book. I deeply doubt about whether the author installed cameras at my home. Anyway, this is the book that I can say firmly is written in children’s view.

These little events are designed elaborately by the author to allow us recall those ancient memories, but not only that. It also shows us how pure the world is. How simple and beautiful the world can be through a child’s eyes comparing to the complex and messy we see. What’s the point of growing up and why we all become evil adults at the end are the questions this book bringing to me. All these small things consist of our memory. It might not be significant, but it may cause you feel a little bit amused and that may be the meaning of memory.

3 thoughts on “A Present for Our Childhood

  1. Josephine D

    I completely agree with you. This book has brought up many of the same questions for me. It also causes so many emotions in me, making me laugh one second and gasp in horror or sadness the next. I think one of the reasons for this is because Roy portrays childhood in a way that is, as you said, incredibly magical. The reader gets to see such accurate, funny moments like the ones you mentioned at the theater and even things like the silly clothes that Estha and Rahel wear and the interesting, creative thoughts in their heads. But I think the really sad part is that we also get to see all these things get ruined for Estha and Rahel. From Estha getting abused to Sophie Mol and Ammu dying, the book keeps piling tragedies onto their lives and we see the magic of their childhoods disappearing little by little until eventually they become adults with much bleaker outlooks on life. I don’t think these events and the loss of innocence they cause in Estha and Rahel would make me, as a reader, so sad, if it weren’t for how accurately they were portrayed as children. If they were stereotypical young children in the way many books describe young children, sweet and pure but with no unique personality traits, this book would not be as good. But the accurate moments like the ones that you mention make them very real and relatable to me. I guess it is the same as it would be with any book–if the characters don’t feel real, the reader won’t really care what happens to them. But most authors don’t bother to make characters that are young children feel real, while Roy does.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lauren D

    I totally agree! I love how there is shifts in perspective and time. The point of view when they are children is very descriptive and fun to see because the novel can be so serious at times. It is interesting to see some very serious topics in the view point of a child.


  3. Alex Y

    What’s up Yunhao! Great post and I think you’ve done a great job commenting on all the little things Roy gets right like the chairs, the urinal, etc.; I, like you and the other commentators, can easily relate to their imagination, little rules, and obsession. I feel like Roy’s able to capture so much of that childhood spirit because despite their inexperience, they aren’t dumb. Although they don’t understand many things about the world, they’re very obviously proficient in literature, English, etc. Their insightfulness comes to a head whenever something truly messed-up happens like with the abuse Rahel suffers and Sophie Mol’s death. Although they don’t understand everything that’s going on due to their simple inexperience, they still obviously comprehend immediately that something is wrong. Thus, the realism in their behavior both lets us laugh and empathize with the twins whenever something goes wrong. Thanks again for the insightful post Yunhao, and I hope your quarantine isn’t going too bad!


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