While reading the theory of orientalism, I reflected on how casually and habitually orientalism shows up in television, works of literature, and every day discussion in Western countries. This theme is repeatedly incorporated throughout The God of Small Things,, specifically through its emphasis of “the other” and the power dynamic that this perspective enforces.
Exaggerated contrasts of culture are highlighted with the initial greetings of Sophie Mol and Margaret Kochamma. For instance, Margaret Kochamma exclaims, “How marvelous!…It’s a sort of sniffing! Do the Men and Women do it to each other too?” which is returned by Ammu, ” Oh, all the time!…That’s how we make babies.” Chacko then requests that Ammu apologizes to which she responds with, “Must we behave like some damn godforsaken tribe that’s just been discovered?”(171). Ammu’s sarcasm and frustration with Margaret Kochamma justifiably stems from the condescension of not only her inquiries, but the suggestion of other cultures being exotic or strange by Westerners as a whole. Moreover, this exaggeration of differences establishes the power of Westerners, as cultures of the East are further pushed into the label of being outsiders or labeled as “the other”.
Furthermore, the idealization of Sophie Mol further emphasizes the presence of this perspective on a global scale. For example, “‘She has her mother’s color,’ Kochu Maria said. ‘Papppachi’s nose’, Mammachi insisted, ‘I don’t know about that, but she’s very beautiful,’…Sundari kitty. She’s a little angel’. Kochu’s Maria’s insistence of Sophie Mol’s possession of solely her mothers physical characteristics and continued use of the word “beautiful” to describe her continues to reinforce the idea of orientalism, especially considering Estha and Rahel’s consequent perspective of what “beauty” is. Roy notes, “Littleangels were beach-colored and wore bell bottom. Little demons were mudbrown in Air-port Fairy Frocks…”(170).