Bathroom Buddies

The novel, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy exhibits some tendencies of the twins, Rahel and Estha, through a particularly unique scene of the Ipe family at the cinema. Before heading to watch the film, the family splits up to go to the restroom, Estha is directed to go alone while Ammu, Baby Kochamma, and Rahel go together. The significance of this passage was more specific to developing and reflecting the traits of the characters which would account for their actions later in the novel. 

When Rahel sets foot into the restroom, Ammu and Baby Kochamma help her to relieve herself by holding her up above the pot. As Rahel is held up by her mother and baby grandaunt they have a little moment of laughter as Ammu is trying to mimic the urinating sound. Then while Baby Kochamma takes her turn Rahel thinks to herself that she “liked all this. Holding the handbag. Everyone pissing in front of everyone. Like friends’’ (91). Rahel values the time she spends with the people she loves although they may disapprove of her. She feels secure in a vulnerable environment with others while Estha, on the other hand, feels, or at least tries to be more comfortable alone. 

When Estha enters the restroom he faces a problem at the urinal, he is too short. He rectifies this issue by organizing some cans he found sitting on the ground in front of the urinal to stand on top of. The book states that Estha “stood on them, one foot on each, and pissed carefully with minimal wobble. Like a Man” (92). Through this action we can see that Estha wants to be seen as more mature and tries to present more grown, physically and mentally. Ammu confirms his act when Estha leaves the restroom to join the women. Ammu states that she “felt a sudden clutch of love for her reserved dignified little son in his beige and pointy shoes, who had just completed his first adult assignment” (93). Ammu is able to feel the matured energy from Estha which can explain why Baby Kochamma saw him as the ‘responsible’ and ‘practical’ twin when he was selected to confirm an identity for the inspector later in the novel.

4 thoughts on “Bathroom Buddies

  1. Sylvia G.

    I remember one of the interesting wordings Roy uses during this scene is “Estha Alone,” emphasising the importance of his position in the bathroom in contrast to the togetherness of Rahel, Baby Kochamma, and Ammu. I liked how you analyzed this passage to show the differences between Rahel and Estha even with their strong connection.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. CASEY M

    This is a really interesting post! I also found it powerful especially because it kind of sets up the following scene with the orangedrink lemondrink man, he is seen as mature and then all of the sudden, so young. I think that, yes, Estha was chosen to talk to the police in the investigation because he was mature, but I think it was more likely that Rahel is more impulsive and rash in her decisions and couldn’t be trusted to continue the lie as she was more likely to go off-script. Overall I really loved that you touched on this because it is an impactful moment that is overlooked.


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