Roy’s Writing Style as a Device

Pappachi’s Moth has to be one of my favorite chapters in this novel. The way Roy has the omniscient narrator speak in the voices of each character is something I’ve never read before.

For example, there is a great sort of childlike wonder is the way Estha and Rahel view the world at this time in the book. One of my favorite sentences in this chapter is found on page 37: “Rahel’s new teeth were waiting inside her gums, like words in a pen”. It’s so like a little kid to make up an analogy to help explain away a concept. And to a kid, it makes sense. Words come from pens, that’s how you see them. They must be stuck inside there if they’re able to come out through the top. You can’t see them, but they’re there. Like new teeth in your mouth.

Or, later in the novel, when the kids decide to read everything backwards. It’s the kind of high effort-low reward activity that I think all of us used to do as kids. Roy has such an attention to detail to how children act in the book. At a deeper level, it’s not just their actions, but she writes the methods behind them. She does this masterfully, sometimes not even explicitly stating what they mean; you only get the full picture if you take a step back while reading.

Take “zebra crossing”. At first glance, you might think it is a crossing for zebras. But Roy doesn’t want you to think like that. You have to be with Rahel and Estha. It’s a crosswalk, striped black and white like a zebra.

Roy utilizes this technique to envelope the reader in the kids’ perspective. I’ve never seen it done before and I can’t stop appreciating it.

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