The Importance of Capital Letters in God of Small Things

When reading novels, getting invested in the story is the thing the author wants the reader to do. However, while taking AP Literature and Creative Writing in the same year, I have really started to realize the beauty of writing, the different ways authors write, and the “rules” that can be broken throughout a book and the “rules” that are followed.

Rules consist of every basic period after a sentence, a capital letter at the beginning every sentence, commas when you need them and so on. Many authors including Arundhati Roy who wrote God of Small Things practices these. However, one technique that Roy uses that I absolutely adore, is that she uses capital letters on not just pronouns but nouns as well. For example, at the very beginning of the novel there is a sentence where words that shouldn’t be capital, are capital that would take a reader by surprise; “In those early amorphous years when memory had only just begun, when life was full of Beginnings and no Ends, and Everything was Forever, Esthappen and Rahel thought of themselves together as Me, and separately, individually, as We or Us” (4).

The first time reading that sentence, the words, “Beginnings, Ends, Everything, Forever, Me, We, and Us” were read with emphasis. Roy wanted me to look at those words and know that the narrator thinks these words are important and/or have a higher meaning. Also, the twins in the story, Rahel and Estha use capital letters for words that they find important like “Unsafe,” or “Let Her Be” (44) while they are narrators. As this book is centered around life of these two twin children, the capital letters put attention to those words because the kids find them meaningful. It allows the reader to try and empathize with the naiveness and vulnerability of children.

2 thoughts on “The Importance of Capital Letters in God of Small Things

  1. Alexis, you make a great point about how the capitalization adds to the childish perspective of much of the text. You make me want to go through examples from throughout the book and see how it plays out.

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  2. Finn G.

    I also find the capital letters in this book really interesting, and I’m curious how closely they’re tied to the repetition of certain phrases that also occurs constantly in the novel. Interestingly, the chapters from Estha and Rahel’s perspectives aren’t the only ones with this capitalization pattern; the excerpt we wrote an essay on, for example, also had weirdly capitalized nouns and phrases despite being from Ammu and Velutha’s perspectives. Is Roy trying to indicate that they, too, have a sense of childlike wonder? I don’t know, to be honest.

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