“The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy brings a lot of issues to light, and compelling storytelling on the part of Roy helps emphasize systematic issues in interesting ways. A common theme one can associate with “The God of Small Things” is the orientalism and orientalist mindset present throughout the story, as well as how that affects characters and their perceptions of others. Roy does an excellent job of depicting the negative effects an orientalist mindset can have on a person’s perspective and worldview, as well as how society’s natural perception is not often prone to change. Although the story itself has a compelling plot, the way issues of class, politics, as well as societal issues are immersed into the story make it extremely informative and beneficial to read. Many societal issues are highlighted throughout the story, specifically those regarding the orientalist mindset and how it can be detrimental.
For example, from the beginning of our introduction to Margaret Kochamma and Sophie Mol, it is evident that they feel out of place, and they already have a predisposed idea of what they will be experiencing on their holidays. Although Roy does not shove these misalignments in your face, she does make it a point for readers to notice the difference in perspective, as well as how it is ultimately untrue and even offensive. For example, Ammu remarks sarcastically to Margaret Kochamma after she asks a question about Kochu Marie smelling Sophie’s hands, asking whether or not it is a custom. Although to Margaret it may have seemed like an innocent question, so few words really put into perspective the misinformation that many people have, especially those with previous notions and opinions about things they have not experienced.
Roy’s specific use of words and articulation of these differences shed light on how destructive the orientalist mindset can be, as it creates the expectation of stagnancy, without the anticipation of growth or development. Roy does an excellent job of bringing awareness to these differing perspectives and how although there is a lot of tradition and custom, such is true in any culture, and the division of “The East” and “The West” stems from a lot of misinformation and assumptions.