The Cruelty of Arundahti Roy

God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy is an excellent novel. The abundance of detail and use of figurative language makes the book come alive. It was hard to sit still while reading. I found myself squirming at her descriptions and sighing in frustration at the situations of the characters. However, while reading I quickly learned that this novel is not for the faint of heart. The trauma that characters go through is dark. Their lives seem small and sad. More than any other book I have read, Roy’s novel is thoroughly cruel from start to finish.

While reading other books I have never noticed the characters to be described and treated so cruel, especially in a more modern setting with extremely probable events. Roy mostly achieves this effects by meticulously dissecting her characters. She simplifies their lives and their obsessions. She usually gives them realistic, common dreams too. Ordinary goals that anyone would want out of life. Then she shows that no one achieves those goals, and there life only gets slowly worse until it eventually trails off and ends.

The cruelest thing about Roy’s writing is that it is so realistic. It does not go for shock value. It does not try to stretch the imagination and horrify the reader. Instead it is simple, and mundane. It reveals the realities of life: dreams do not always come to fruition, things do not always work out, and not everyone gets a happy ending.

3 thoughts on “The Cruelty of Arundahti Roy

  1. JOHN V

    The cruelty was an interesting aspect of the novel. We are used to the happy endings and this book left us with just the opposite.


  2. Natalie S

    I totally agree. I feel that in that past few years storytelling has become very lighthearted. This is especially seen in Disney or Hollywood films where they always end happily. However, this is often not the reality. Whenever an author writes an intense story without a happy ending it makes the story stand out. This is how I felt when watching the HBO series “Euphoria.” I loved the show, however, I had friends who hated it because it was “too real.” I feel there needs to be more stories told this way.


  3. Well, I’m not sure I would say she treats her characters with cruelty — with the exception of Baby Kochamma, who the novel portrays as a complete villain (maybe the one place where Roy’s sensitivity to human complexity falters). I think she shows the world being a cruel place for some characters, but those characters — especially Estha, Rahel, and Velutha — are beautiful, loving people. Some characters, like Chacko and Ammu, are a mixed bag, but they definitely have a goodness at their core.


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