A common reassuring phrase a child will hear growing up is that there is nothing they can do as a person to make their parents love them less. This phrase is usually used after a fight when a parent and child makes up.
In The God of Small Things, Ammu says to Rahel, “D’you know what happens when you hurt people? Ammu said. When you hurt people, they begin to love you less. That’s what careless words do. They make people love you a little less” (107).
This exchange of words from Ammu to Rahel stood out to me especially because it defeats everything most children hear throughout their whole childhood. In this scene, Ammu’s unconditional love is being taken away from Rahel after her careless and hurtful words.
Ammu says this to Rahel after Rahel disrespectfully and sarcastically recommends that she marry the Orangedrink Lemondrink man. This enrages Ammu and deeply offends her. In consequence, she tells Rahel that she loves her less now.
Throughout the book, Ammu is represented in many ways. Ammu places a lot of emphasis on how her children behave and wants them to be good. When Rahel shocks her with this disrespectful comment, she is ashamed and wants Rahel to know that she must behave better if she wants to be loved. Ammu acts this way because she wants society to see that a woman on her own can raise good children without a husband.