Does Societal Obligation Trump Love?

“The God of Small Things” is a book filled with complex relationships between lovers, friends, and family. In a society that is heavily influenced by politics, it gets messy when navigating these relationships. As Roy demonstrates, obeying these laws might mean betraying the ones you love, and disobeying them could lead to death.

Throughout the book, there are many instances in which we see this conflict. One of the most significant examples is the affair between Velutha and Ammu. Despite Velutha being an untouchable and Ammu being of a higher caste, they engage in an affair. They ignore the system that prohibits romantic relationships between castes. This ultimately leads to Velutha’s death when his own father exposes the affair to Baby Kochamma. Their love was not enough to surpass the rules of society. Velutha was born an untouchable and he died as an untouchable too. His label was his downfall.

It is also important to note that Velutha’s own father was willing to expose his own son in order to follow the “Love Laws” of society. Vellya Paapen betrays Velutha by choosing his obligation to follow rules over familial love.

This is just one of many examples of the impact that politics has on the relationships between characters. Overall, based on the events in the book, societal obligation does indeed trump love. But I feel that this is not always the case. India is a special case because the caste system is extremely strict. However, in other places throughout the world, we see mixed class relationships all the time. After reading this book and seeing just how strict the caste system in India is, I feel lucky to live in a place where I can love whoever I choose.

One thought on “Does Societal Obligation Trump Love?

  1. Finn G.

    I very much agree that the tension between societal rules and obligations and love is the primary thematic conflict in “The God of Small Things.” Just to play devil’s advocate somewhat here, I wouldn’t say that America is wholly free of restrictions on who you can love either, however. We don’t have a strict caste system like India, but we still do have customs that govern who you can love based on age (most of this one is entirely reasonable), religion, race, and gender. We’re definitely getting better at removing some of these restrictions, and they’re not enforced by laws anymore like they were in previous decades, but they’re still definitely socially taboo for many families in America and across the world.

    Like

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