Should Emotions Be Synthesised?

Can human emotion be created from substances created in a lab? If they can, should they be used in lieu of life’s experiences? “Escape from Spiderhead” by George Sanders shows a world where this moral ambiguity becomes a reality.

Jeff is a test subject in a pharmaceutical lab creating chemicals that affect people’s behaviors. He’s given Verbulace, a new substance from the lab, which makes him feel a strong sense of love. He falls in love with the only other person in the room, Heather, and they get busy quickly. Once the substance is withdrawn, however, both Jeff and his newly found partner feeling embarrassed about their ordeal. The next day, the same procedure occurs with a different woman, Rachel. The emotions and actions are the same. Jeff wipes the experiences with Heather and replaces them with his time with Rachel. As with the first test, they’re both tapered off Verbulace and are embarrassed.

Jeff, from these two trials, becomes sad, he ponders the experiences with Heather and Rachel. “I guess I was sad that love was not real? Or not all that real, anyway?” His love was strong, he felt amazing. But when Verbulace was taken away, any feeling he had for someone vanished. The substances can create powerful versions of emotions. Piloting a person with feelings rather than the thought they had before. Jeff wants to get back to the high he felt with Heather and Rachel, but without Verbulace.

After such a reading, what would you decide. Would you want chemical that can replicate human emotion to be readily available? Or would you rather have people experience emotions for themselves?

Imagine…

With our last year at OPRF coming to an unusual end, I’d like to add one last song to our playlist. Imagine by John Lennon, is a musical piece I would argue is poetic and a good listen during these times.

Within the lyrics, John envisions a world without borders, religion, and material possessions. Only with the elimination of these three can there finally be a “real” world peace. The elimination of nationalities, religion, and one’s economic class would create a unified Earth in Lennon’s mind.

Instead of focusing on John’s powerful vision of world peace, I would like you to utilize the difficult but not impossible tool Lennon encourages. Lennon guides the listener to use their imagination to envision a world without social constructs that divide us from one another. I on the other hand, encourage you to use this song to escape the confinements of your couch, bedroom, floor, wherever you are currently sitting during this lovely quarantine.

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will be as one

The above stanza is the hook for “Imagine.” It appeals to the sensuous dimension of poetry with Lennon speaking of the sensation of unity with the words “one” and “us.” The use of “one” creates a sensation of a single entity, with the choice of “us” creating a feeling of a single united entity. Lennon furthermore connects with the emotional dimension with the usage of “hope.” By using “hope,” Lennon inspires the listener making an emotional connection. Finally, Lennon continues into the imaginative dimension with the use of “dreamer.” A dreamer uses his/her imagination, and in this context Lennon is a “dreamer.” By labeling himself as a “dreamer” he inspires his listeners and followers to become like him, a dreamer.

Whether you listen to the song with focus specific to Lennon’s vision, or you utilize his lyrics to liberate yourself from quarantine and venture into the depths of possibility, Lennon’s work “Imagine” is a piece of poetry.

History: A Vicious Cycle

In The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy oftentimes repeats certain phrases and words. Some examples include the lines “a viable, die-able age” (pages 5, 310), “The God of Small Things” (250, 274, 312), and “tomorrow” (321) (a word that already implies repetition and routine). Roy does this specifically when writing about major plot points. These include Ammu and Velutha’s relationship being contrasted with Estha and Rahel’s incestuous encounter. The breaking of the Love Laws in these affairs, and the constant occurrences of loss and mortality throughout the novel. 

When these themes are being detailed, Roy describes them using phrases that are often repeated when discussing separate, but similar, events. In doing so, she is able to communicate the idea that they’re not the only thing happening again and again in this novel. Rather, they are used to create a sense of deja vu that effectively expresses one idea. Where these phrases pop up, again and again, something else is repeating too: the breaking of the Love Laws, the re-enacting of history, and the human inclination toward carnal gratification. We are constantly making the same mistakes, breaking the same rules, and dying in the same ways as our ancestors. 

History, Roy argues, is shaped like a circle. Mankind gladly enforces it through acts of defiance and rebellion that echo those or the past. By using certain words and symbols over and over again, she signals to the reader when she’s detailing an event that has happened, in some way or shape, before when someone is repeating history when it is more evident than ever that repetition lies in the nature of humanity.

Trauma in God of Small Things

Throughout the novel, God of Small Things explicitly says that Sophie Mol’s death is the catalyst for the destruction and subsequent dissemination of Rahel and Estha’s family. However, it is possible that the subtext of the novel suggests an underlying cause of this dissemination: trauma. Each and every character experiences unspoken trauma in their own way, manifesting itself into brittle family ties, the breaking point being Sophie Mol’s death. Although her death ultimately did lead to its dissemination, trauma was the underlying cause of the state of the family after Sophie Mol’s death, exhibited by how all of Rahel, Estha, and Ammu’s actions leading to Sophie Mol’s are predicated by each of their individual traumas.

Early on in the novel, Arundhati Roy explains that Ammu moves in with Mammachi and Pappachi because her alcoholic husband was abusive. At first, Pappachi has a hard time believing this because he was a wealthy Christian Englishman. Additionally, she was physically emotionally abused by her father who was also a wealthy businessman. Ammu began resenting her children because, “…their wide-eyed vulnerability and their willingness to love people who didn’t really love them exasperated her and sometimes made her want to hurt them…,”(42).  Her trauma from her past relationships is part of why she acts in the way that she does. She begins resenting wealthy Englishmen, which may have been part of why she fell in love with and had an affair with Velutha, who was a dark-skinned, lower class and Marxist man. This is significant because this leads to Mammachi and Baby Kochamma locking her in her room so that she would not see Velutha any longer, which leads to her lashing out at her children, saying that she did not love them and blames them for her situation. Her anger at this moment at them clearly is rooted in her resentment toward her children due to their naivety and connection to her ex-husband, despite them clearly having little to do with Mammachi and Baby Kochamma’s actions. This leads to them running away and rowing a boat down the river, the boat tipping over, and Sophie Mol eventually drowning. Sophie Mol becomes a symbol of how when trauma is unspoken, it can cause great distress to a person’s relationships. So much so in this case that it leads to Sophie Mol dying and Estha and Rahel having to move away, and their family to be destroyed as Ammu goes to “fend for herself”.

This is also exhibited by Estha’s trauma within the story. When Estha is at the movie theater to see The Sound of Music, he is sexually assaulted by the “Orangedrink Lemondrink Man.” Estha is traumatized by this and becomes afraid of the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man because he knows where he lives. This becomes a significant part of his decision to run away, besides Ammu telling him to go because he realizes that, “(1) Anything can happen to anyone. and (2) It’s best to be prepared,” (186). He realized the best preparation to protect himself from Orangedrink Lemondrink Man is to leave the place where Orangedrink Lemondrink knows he lives. It is his and Rahel’s combined efforts of running away, and heading to the History house. Sophie Mol tags along, and ends up drowning, causing her death. This decision making caused by Estha’s effort to avoid trauma, because of his past trauma.

Rahel’s trauma is somewhat smaller but still important to the accumulation of trauma that led to Sophie Mol’s death and the subsequent dissemination of her family. After seeing The Sound of Music Rahel makes a snide comment about how Ammu should marry the Orangedrink Lemondrink man, unaware of his encounter with Estha. To this, Ammu responds, “‘When you hurt people, they begin to love you less…’,” (107). This is traumatic to Rahel because it makes her believe that Ammu does not love her. She continues to think this when Sophie Mol arrives and is adored by everyone in her family. This thought process is the precursor to her, Estha and Sophie Mol’s decision to leave because of both her ideas that Ammu didn’t love her, and Estha’s ideas that lead them to leave and try to get to History House by boat.

The accumulation of trauma here is clearly the catalyst for the dissemination of Rahel and Estha’s family rather than merely Sophie Mol’s death.

 

Sex, Violence, and Their Disturbing Similarities

Arundhati Roy’s novel, The God of Small Things, while heralded as a part of the modern literary canon, has often been criticized for its sexual themes and plot points. On pages 97-100, Estha is sexually abused by an adult man. Pages 316-321 depict the sexual relationship between Ammu and Velutha side-by-side with Estha and Rahel’s sexual encounter, which has been called disturbing by some. What these critics fail to realize, though, is why Arundhati Roy includes so much sexual content. The Answer? To deliver a message. 

Nearly all the conflict in the novel – from Ammu sleeping with an Untouchable to so many of the story’s women being physically abused. From Baby Kochamma’s desire for Father Mulligan – to even Estha being molested, is all caused by people succumbing to the body’s inclinations toward sex, violence, and physical indulgences. The body, Roy claims, governs the mind, and consequently, it writes the ever-repeating story of History itself. 

A person’s body is their most powerful force of communication. It can make love, it can hurt others, it can drown and leave a family devastated. It is a catalyst for so many happenings in one’s life, plagued by desire and rage and it’s constant teetering between life and death. Roy’s explicitly sexual content, along with her emphasis on physical description (the depiction of Comrade Pillai’s body on pages 257-258 as disgusting and ugly directly mirrors his character), show the reader that the body and its needs comprise much of what drives the novel’s plot – what drives history itself, and the story of mankind. Hence, these sex scenes are justifiable: they are instances of a greater theme manifesting, of something bigger than sex taking place. They are moments in which lives and families are torn apart, all at the hands of the human body and its power.

Was Chacko Actually in Love?

One of the main themes in The God of Small Things is society and class. Margaret Kochamma plays a big role in this since she is English and that makes her of high social class. Chacko met Margaret Kochamma during his time at Oxford and during a flashback the narrator states, “He had no pressing reasons to stay in touch with his parents. The Rhodes Scholarship was generous. He needed no money. He was deeply in love with his love for Margaret Kochamma and had no room in his heart for anyone else”(234). The text says that Chacko was deeply in love with his love for Margaret Kochamma so does this mean the he did not actually love her?

I think that this text shows how caught up in class Chacko became with Margaret Kochamma which forced him to fall in love with her. He fell in love with her because she was a white British woman and that is what society told him to value. While he may have loved her I think that it is more likely that he fell in love with her status and the status that he would receive if he married her. The Kochamma family is largely composed of Anglophiles which is why Sophie Mol’s arrival is so important. They are treated like royalty and the whole family goes out of their way so that they will think highly of them.

I do not think that Chacko truly loved Margaret and think that he was in love with her status. If Chacko truly loved Margaret he probably would have tried harder to keep their marriage alive instead of spiraling and giving up. If Chacko loved her then Margaret probably would have loved him back and would not have fallen in love with Joe. Chacko was in love, but he was in love with status instead of Margaret.

Baby Kochamma’s role in The God of Small Things

Baby Kochamma is an essential character to understanding the impact of social status and class on the characters in the novel, The God of Small Things. Baby Kochamma has always strived to belong in the highest social class possible. Her image is extremely important to her which is why she needed to have Velutha taken out of her life when she found out about Ammu’s affair with him. Her pure Syrian Christian niece was not allowed to have an affair with an untouchable because it would hurt the family’s reputation and look negatively upon her.

Baby Kochamma is similar to a lot of older people in America today. She is unwilling to change with the times even though the caste system was abolished about 15 years beforehand. However unlike in our world today some Americans believe that they are superior to other races but the civil rights act was passed 60 years ago. Just like Baby Kochamma’s treatment towards Velutha they try to put themselves above others and continue to oppress humans because of the color of their skin which puts them in a lower class. The book teaches the importance of social classes and even when abolished the prejudices held against people that were once considered lower class.

Baby Kochamma believes that she is superior to everyone else because of her superiority complex that being a Syrian Christian gives her. Roy portrays her as a negative and unlikeable character since she possesses old fashioned ideology that needs to be abolished.

Gen Z and Orientalism

One of the biggest things that separates Gen Z from the generations before it is that we have all grown up in a post-9/11 world. Those of us in the class of 2020 weren’t even alive before it. So how does that shape our view of the Eastern world?

Orientalism has been present in the United States for a very long time, but many people credit the attacks on the World Trade Center with heightening it. After the attacks, the media created a narrative where the Middle East was synonymous with terrorism, and that has continued through
Gen Z’s entire lifetime. For some in this generation, the only images they’ve seen of the Eastern world are ones of terror cells and desolation. And now we’ve all lived through President Trump’s attempts at a “Muslim ban,” which absolutely stoked the xenophobic fire.

Despite all of this, I believe that Gen Z has the capability to change the American rhetoric around the Eastern world. Although we all don’t remember a time before 9/11 and the stereotypes and racism that followed, we are able to recognize over-generalizations and call people out when they are misinformed. We are continuing to challenge the norms in the media and entertainment industries around telling Eastern stories. Perhaps we, as a generation, will be able to break down the idea of “otherness” that comes with Orientalism and appreciate each other’s cultures without fear.

Pappachi’s Moth

As I continued reading The God of Small Things, one recurring symbol I noticed was the moth that Pappachi had discovered but not received any credit for. Pappachi’s “greatest setback was not having had the moth he discovered named after him” (23). At this moment, the moth became a symbol of failure, “which tormented Pappachi and his children and his children’s children” (24). 

The next time we are introduced to the moth is once Estha and Rahel leave the theater and Rahel makes a snarky comment about Ammu marrying the Orangedrink Lemondrink man. Ammu responds by telling her that hurting people with words will make them love you less. 

Once she says this, “A cold moth with unusually dense dorsal tufts landed lightly on Rahel’s heart. Where it’s icy legs touched her, she got goosebumps” (107). Hearing something like this from your own mother at such a young age completely terrified Rahel, and I would’ve been worried about it too. Rahel knew she shouldn’t have said what she did, and immediately after her mother responded she felt like a failure- like she wasn’t loved as much anymore, and that stuck with her for the rest of her life. 

Pappachi’s moth returns each time Rahel feels as if she has done something wrong, and the moment she heard Sophie Mol’s silence from the river, “On Rahel’s heart Pappachi’s moth snapped opened its somber wings” (277). Rahel is blaming herself for the death of her cousin and not being able to save her. This cold feeling of failure never leaves Rahel, and she takes it with her for the rest of her life. 

Point of View in GOST

When you first begin to read ‎Arundhati Roy’s novel “God of Small Things,” it is hard to tell what is going on. It jumps from one point of view to the next seemingly randomly, and it can be hard to follow. Once you get used to this third-person omniscient style of writing, however, it is clear how much of an impact it has on the story.

Each character has a unique perspective on the events in the story, as each of them experienced things differently. For example, each of them view Sophie Mol’s death in a different way because they all know different versions of the truth. Rahel and Estha were actually present, so they have a much different understanding of what happened than Ammu or Baby Kochamma. The fact that the point of view changes so often before the actual cause of Sophie’s death is revealed builds suspense because it’s clear that none of the characters know the same things. It also helps the reader fully comprehend the true extent of the confusion and complications around the death because we get to see it through multiple characters’ eyes.

The changes in point of view also helps us empathize with each of the characters. Every one of them does something questionable in the story, so if it was told exclusively from one perspective, some of those characters would turn into antagonists. Instead, we get to understand the reasoning behind their actions and why it made sense to them, so no one is truly a “bad guy” or a “good guy.” They all have their flaws, but they all believed they were acting correctly, and we are able to see that because of the multiple points of view.

“Small Things”

When initially reading The God of Small Things, I remember thinking how many heavy topics seemed to be brought up in the first chapters of the book.  This society was concerned with “Big Things” such as marriage, the caste system, and politics. However as I continued to read, Roy points out the “Small Things” that give the book its meaning.

One of the first examples that stood out to me is when Ammu tells Rahel that she doesn’t love her as much as she used to.  Although Ammu doesn’t seem to think about this situation again, Rahel is inconsolable. “A little less her mother loved her” is a phrase that is repeated many more times throughout the book.  This statement is a “Small Thing” to Ammu, but it consumes Rahel.

At many points in the book, Roy takes a lot of time to acknowledge something that seems insignificant.  She says, “Just outside Ayemenem they drove into a cabbage-green butterfly (or perhaps it drove into them.)”  Roy uses this description of a “Small Thing” to show that the perspective of the reader is not the only one. Even an insect could have a point of view, and even a suicidal intention.

Because of their youth, Estha and Rahel seem not as tied to the “Big Things.”  But this may mean that they carry the weight of the small things, or the secrets and lies of their family.

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.

The Importance of Capital Letters in God of Small Things

When reading novels, getting invested in the story is the thing the author wants the reader to do. However, while taking AP Literature and Creative Writing in the same year, I have really started to realize the beauty of writing, the different ways authors write, and the “rules” that can be broken throughout a book and the “rules” that are followed.

Rules consist of every basic period after a sentence, a capital letter at the beginning every sentence, commas when you need them and so on. Many authors including Arundhati Roy who wrote God of Small Things practices these. However, one technique that Roy uses that I absolutely adore, is that she uses capital letters on not just pronouns but nouns as well. For example, at the very beginning of the novel there is a sentence where words that shouldn’t be capital, are capital that would take a reader by surprise; “In those early amorphous years when memory had only just begun, when life was full of Beginnings and no Ends, and Everything was Forever, Esthappen and Rahel thought of themselves together as Me, and separately, individually, as We or Us” (4).

The first time reading that sentence, the words, “Beginnings, Ends, Everything, Forever, Me, We, and Us” were read with emphasis. Roy wanted me to look at those words and know that the narrator thinks these words are important and/or have a higher meaning. Also, the twins in the story, Rahel and Estha use capital letters for words that they find important like “Unsafe,” or “Let Her Be” (44) while they are narrators. As this book is centered around life of these two twin children, the capital letters put attention to those words because the kids find them meaningful. It allows the reader to try and empathize with the naiveness and vulnerability of children.

Transcending Trauma

I found that the structure of The God of Small Things was somewhat similar to the structure of Beloved and was therefore successful in conveying a similar message. Both novels arbitrarily shift from past to present, similar to how past trauma from Ayemenem and repressed memories from Sweet Home emerge throughout the novels. Although trauma lingers in both novels, the characters are able to find ways of battling through and lessening the pain of their trauma. Sethe’s relationship with Paul D allows her to persevere through her trauma by keeping it in her memories but detatching herself from the painful aspects. 

Similar to Sethe and Paul D, Estha and Rahel are drawn to each other not only because they are twins but because of their shared trauma. Before Rahel and Estha reconnect, she marries Larry McCaslin, an American, but gets divorced because her “Emptiness” overwhelms her. In describing Rahel’s marriage, Roy writes:

He didn’t know that in some places, like the country that Rahel came from, various kinds of despair competed for primacy. And that personal despair could never be desperate enough. That something happened when personal turmoil dropped by at the wayside shrine of the vast, violent, circling, driving, ridiculous, insane, unfeasible, public turmoil of a nation. That Big God howled like a hot wind, and demanded obeisance. Then Small God (cozy and contained, private and limited) came away cauterized, laughing numbly at his own temerity

Estha is the one for Rahel because unlike Larry, he lived through the same traumatic experiences as Rahel and is able to understand her in a way that Larry cannot. Both novels communicate the idea that victims of shared trauma can transcend their experiences by using relationships with other victims to create a community of healers.

Repetition in “The God of Small Things”

Over the course of reading The God of Small Things (italics were not available in the title, sorry), I noticed that certain phrases kept recurring over and over again, word for word. Some examples of this trend: “Thirty-one. Not old. Not young. But a viable die-able age,” “the laws that lay down who should be loved and how. And how much,” “The God of Loss. The God of Small Things,” “Anything can Happen to Anyone.” These are only a few, but you get the picture.

I was curious why these peculiar phrases kept recurring in this manner. It’s almost like the book’s thoughts are being regurgitated back at the reader, instantly recognizable and in reference to the same phrase countless other places in the book. I don’t have a lot of hard evidence for my theory, but I think that’s it — the repeated phrases serve as anchors, or way-points. They are there to guide the reader back to other places in the novel, to remind them of other specific passages and moments.

However, the phrases aren’t alluding to other events in the book so much as they are alluding to the same events, simply retold from a different frame of reference or perspective, which ties into the unique storytelling method Roy sets up in the novel. The God of Small Things has an extremely non-linear approach to its plot; the first chapter is the end of the plot, while the last chapter takes place somewhere nebulously in the middle. The plot jumps around between events future and past, sharing different characters’ roles in the tragedy that unfolded.

The repeated phrases in The God of Small Things give the plot connection and cohesion. They link disparate elements page-count-wise, such as the first chapter and the time we learn about Ammu and Velutha’s relationship proper, or the trauma Estha faces when he is sexually assaulted and the resulting fear that leads him to try to run away with Rahel and Sophie Mol later. These phrases provide order to a fractured story. They create a through-line where none otherwise exists. The God of Small Things is not a normal story. It’s a traumatic set of memories, linked only by the themes and words dispersed among them.

Lovehappy

My chosen song is “LOVEHAPPY” by THE CARTERS (Beyoncé and Jay-Z) on their joint album EVERYTHING IS LOVE. The central theme of this song is forgiveness as well as working to improve on your happiness. Although in the song it is applied to Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s personal relationship, I believe this song can easily be applicable to our relationships with others or even ourselves.

One major part of the song consists of Beyoncé emphasizing how in a time of darkness, it did not seem like they would be able to escape. ‘Beach’ is used as a metaphor for their relationship, which for some time wasn’t the paradis everyone believe it was. Despite this, eventually, their ‘nightmare’ was over and they were led into a new kind of happiness, enhancing the general theme of the song. These lines are clear towards the end of the chorus.

Sometimes, I thought we’d never see the light

We went through hell with heaven on our side

This beach ain’t always been no paradise

But nightmares only last one night

This one section of the song I found can be very uplifting in times of struggle. Right now with everything with Coronavirus occurring and all of us missing out on the senior year we had imagined for ourselves, this song is simply a reminder that yes, things may be hard for some time but there is light in the future that will always come.

The song ends on a bright note, talking about how they eventually conquered their struggles and now they are happy and in love together. The repetition of ‘we’ puts emphasis as well as an image in your head about how they are a team and better together than they ever were before.

We came, and we saw, and we conquered it all

We came, and we conquered, now we’re happy in love

Stories

Since the beginning of the year, we have been talking about stories and how they relate to us, each other, and the world. There is one quote from The God of Small Things that I think ties the book into the whole year. “…because kathakali discovered long ago that the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably” (218).

I think that the part of the quote that talks about wanting to hear the same story again speaks to this book. Although the book has very dark parts and isn’t the happiest book, it is still very well written and many people, including myself, would want to read it again.

Furthermore, I think the part that says, “The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably” is very important and truly does speak to all good stories. I interperate this as no matter whats going on in the world around you, if you pick up a good book you can get lost in the story and forget about reality for a bit. The book sort of takes you under it’s wing and takes care of you while you escape reality. I think that this can also apply to movies or tv shows, becuase they too are stories.

With everything going on in the world right now, I have found myself choosing my favorite stories and inhabiting them quite comfortably. Although it is important to stay aware of whats happening, I think it is equally important to lose yourself in a great story.

Orientalism in The God of Small Things and Heart of Darkness

In a close reading of chapter 2, Pappachi’s Moth, in Arundhati Roy’s novel The God of Small Things, I noticed an allusion Roy included when Chacko was explaining the definition of Anglophile and Estes and Rahel describe a man who lived in a house across the river, Kari Saipu. He known as “An Englishman who had ‘gone native’” (Roy 51). This man is compared to a fictional character named Kurtz, apart of novel by Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness.

When I researched this book as well as the character Kurtz, it was extremely interesting to see that in the novel, Conrad apparently depicts the living styles of Africans as uncivilized, and Kurtz as one who desires to be almost a divine ruler over the native people.

Saipu is also described as a man “who spoke Malayalam and wore mundus. Ayemenem’s own Kurtz. Ayemenem his private Hear of Darkness” (Roy 51). This allusion to orientalism in another piece of literature (Kurtz versus Them) helped me as a reader draw the connection between Conrad’s character Kurtz, Kari Saipu in The God of Small Things and the significance of orientalism all at once.

“Ayemenem’s own Kurtz. Ayemenem his private Hear of Darkness”

(Roy 51)

Orientalism in “The King and I”

“The King and I”, a classic American movie musical that almost everyone can find themselves singing along to. When thinking about the topic of orientalism the first thing that automatically comes up in my mind is this movie. Even if you were to ignore the white people playing Asian people, it would still be hard to ignore the other insensitive issues that are apparent in this movie. Let’s briefly go over the plot, the story follows a young teacher who is sent to a fictional place in Asia called Siam where she has to teach the King’s wives and all of his kids English. She teaches the English language as well as customs and etiquette to the royal family in order to make them more “Modern”. One of the prime examples of orientalism is the purpose of Ms Loenowens’ trip. Like I said before, she is teaching the Royals of Siam how to be proper so they can look good for the many other Europeans who are visiting to decide if they’ll “accept” the kingdom. It is clear that Ms Loenowens is trying to white-wash their culture, and it is seen as the “right thing” in the movie.

Another big issue with the movie is how the King of Siam is portrayed. The barbaric and poorly mannered king is a horrible representation of Asian culture. Apart from the messed up portrayal of some of these characters, many of the actors playing the people of Siam are white when the characters are Asian. The man who plays the king is a Russian- American actor and the woman who plays Tup-Tim is Puerto Rican. Casting people who don’t have an eastern ethnicity is a very distasteful way to put on a film. Overall, the Westernization of the characters in, “The King and I” is a prime example of why Hollywood needs to understand the history of what they’re portraying. Maybe we can learn from these mistakes and not repeat them. I have already seen significant change since the release of this famous film.

The Role of Gender in “God of Small Things”

In the novel The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy the mastery of women is a typical topic that is showed by every generation in the novel. Roy expounds on the loaded social issues that plague Indian culture; she composed The God of Small Things after the corrupt system had been removed in India, yet it still controls the country. Roys views serve to see the imperfections within Indian culture, and therefore composed a novel with a message that demonstrated the issues that exists and still goes unmentioned. Through the significant subject of gender identity, Roy passes on a message that all individuals ought to be equivalent regardless of the sex of an individual. The idea is that sexual orientation is only a presentation since society has created. The figment is to suppress their internal wants and adjust to society’s optimal picture and portray the issues that make up a lot of restrictions.

Gender is a constrained job for the characters in The God of Small Things, and it exists essentially as a characterizing social develop. The genuine sexual orientation of the characters is created, on the grounds that the characters in the novel would be thrown out of Indian culture on the off chance that they acted in a way other than the one that was anticipated. The women of the novel are compelled to remain consistent within Indian culture, or, the results are unsuitably unforgiving. Gender identity should come from the acts and gestures that a person chooses to perform, not by the sex they were biologically assigned at birth.

The abuse that Mammachi endured by her husband influenced her in a strange way,

At Pappachi’s funeral, Mammachi cried until her contact lenses slid around in her eyes. Ammu told the twins that Mammachi was crying more because she was used to him than because she loved him. (49) 

The static nature of Mammachi’s life is evident, making it clear that she hated the idea of change, regardless of whether that change was the passing of her spouse or something else. Mammachi proceeds as a lady who lost her caring husband at his memorial service essentially in light of the fact that she was used to her job as a compliant lady who brought herself down to acknowledge her significant other’s disparaging nature towards her for the sum of their marriage. Mammachi had the chance to begin a real existence that would not be constrained by her significant other, however she would be unable to genuinely get away from the maltreatment that was perpetrated intellectually on her by Pappachi’s physical beatings and the end he put to her as a musician.

Numerous individuals despite everything stick to customary thoughts that people ought to carry on in manners that fall into explicit classes decided exclusively on their sexual orientation. However, male or female gender-specific identities are irrelevant in modern, civilized society. Gender roles are social builds created after some time and are not founded on normal human conduct. This is on the grounds that gender roles have advanced as an approach to arrange the vital errands done in early human culture. Some may state that because of the way that customary gender roles have been portrayed for such a long time, they ought not be changed, and are currently a key component in human advancement. Nevertheless, in many of the modern societies today, there is no need for traditional gender roles, because both men and women are able to do many of the same necessary tasks, thereby making gender-specific behaviors irrelevant.