Throughout “God of Small Things,” the reader is able to see how India is viewed from the Western world from tourists that are encountered throughout the novel, but specifically through the eyes of Margaret Kochamma. One of the first instances of the view of India from a tourists perspective is when the family goes to the airport to pick up Margaret Kochamma and Sophie Mol. Other Western families are also arriving and being greeted by their Indian relatives. Roy describes their encounters, “With love and a lick of shame that their families who had come to meet them were so… gawkish. Look at the way they dressed!” (134). The way the Western relatives disapprove of their Indian family is a display of orientalism. Westerns like to believe that what they do– the way they act, dress, talk– is the only “normal” way. Later in this passage, the Indian families are referred to as dirty. The way that the Westerners are treating the people in India is mainly based of Orientalism, and growing up believing that Indians are not well dressed, shameful, and dirty.
Margaret Kochamma’s role and her Orientalist view adds even more to the novel, and is arguably very important to the novel as a whole. When Margaret Kochamma told her coworkers she was going to India “The Heart of Darkness,” as the book describes it, they tell her that “Anything can happen to anyone” and “It’s best to be prepared” (252). Without saying it, her coworkers are implying what many Westerners think, that India is an unsafe country, especially for white people. Margaret Kochamma has reservations about bringing her daughter there for this exact reason. But, her worst fears are realized and her daughter dies in India. The fact that the whole book basically revolves around this event, one so deeply rooted in orientalism shows how important Orientalism is to this book. What is even more interesting to me is that the outside or Western view of India as unsafe is partially supported, with Sophie Mol dying. But it also refutes Orientalism because her death does not happen in the way most Westerners probably would’ve expected (something like a scary man kidnapping you off the street). Instead it is her own family, two young kids, who accidentally kill her.