Sep 182011
 

Table of contens

1. Introduction
2. Migrating
3. Home
4. Crossing borders
5. Returning and loss of space, time and culture
6. ‘The point of no return’
7. Hybridity
8. Formal migrations and returns
9. Conclusion
10. Literature

1. Introduction

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There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered. (Nelson Mandela)

Migrations and returns have been taking place since the beginning of human history. Whereas the motives were very diverse, the challenges that the migrants faced stayed roughly the same. Homesickness, not to be accepted in the new environment, unfulfilled dreams, in the end maybe the wish to return.

In this essay I want to examine, in respect of Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, the characteristics of a migration, and the idea of home as the place that the migrant leaves and as a place he seeks at this destination. I will then go on and discuss the crossing of borders and boundaries, the features of a border and the reasons for trying to cross it. This includes the moral boundaries that a society imposes on its members and also the question to what extend the protagonists in The God of Small Things can be found guilty of transgressing borders and breaking the rules.

In the following chapter, the topic will be the process of returning to the origin and the reasons for that, as well as the consequences and problems that the returning migrant may encounter after his homecoming. Aspects of space and time will play an important role here.

In ‘the point of no return’ I will look at returning from another angle and ask the question what could have been done to prevent the disastrous events from happening or if they could have been prevented at all, looking for the point when the ‘Rubicon was crossed’ and a turning around was no longer possible.

A common subject of postcolonial studies is the topic of my sixth chapter, the formation of hybrid identities among the migrants in The God of Small Things and how they unfold, but also in respect of the novel’s language and form. This goes on in the last chapter, where I will take a general look at the language in matters of how the idea of migrating and returning can be applied to the form of the novel.

2. Migrating

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What is ‘migration’? Articles or essays often start off with a definition of the terms mentioned in their topic, and this definition is usually copied from a dictionary and then further explained. With the term ‘migration’, however, I want to do it differently and go back to its etymological roots. The term derives from the Latin verb migrare, which means to “change one’s residence or position; pass into a new condition; move, shift” (The Pocket Oxford Latin Dictionary). This is not a simple going from one place to another, though, instead there are more attributes that turn a movement into a migration.

The moving has to take place between two distinct spaces that are different to each other in terms of culture, language or race of the residents. Additionally, the space that is left behind was the home of the migrants and they plan to find a new space to call home at the place where they are going to. A migration also has to be set out to be permanent, which means that a return is not intended. Another criterion is a border or boundary that separates the two spaces and that has to be crossed during the migration. The boundary is usually artificial, like the border between two nations, but can also be natural, like an ocean, a river or a mountain range that can not be crossed easily, or just a very long distance between the origin and the destination.

Considering these aspects we can spot several actual migrations in The God of Small Things, in contrast to a more figurative meaning of migration, which will be discussed later on. First, there is Ammu, who moves to Assam, where her husband lives, and who later has to return to Ayemenem with her two children when she leaves her husband again. After Sophie Mol’s death and her relationship with Velutha is exposed, her brother Chacko expels her from Ayemenem and she lives in different places in south-west India, although I would rather call this an aimless journey than a migration per se, because there is no specific destination.

At the same time, Ammu’s son Estha is separated from his mother and his twin sister and is sent to Calcutta to live with his father. Only 23 years later he is “re-Returned” (Roy 1997, 9) to his childhood home Ayemenem, where he meets Rahel again. What is special about his journey is that it does not happen of his own accord, but instead other persons decide where he has to go: he is returned to his father by Baby Kochamma’s decision, 23 years later he is returned to Ayemenem by his father. Rahel, on the other hand, acts more independently. She decides for herself when she marries her American husband and moves to Boston, or when she returns to Ayemenem to see her brother again.

Chacko is the only one of the central characters who seems to become a successful migrant by Indian standards. He moves to England, a country that is highly adored among anglophile Indians, and founds a family with an Englishwoman. But just like Ammu’s, his marriage fails and he returns to India. After his daughter dies he emigrates once again, this time to Canada.

Although the journeys of these characters are very different to each other, they all centre around Ayemenem and everyone returns to Ayemenem at some point in their lives. The meaning of this place will be examined more closely in the next chapter.

3. Home

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I have claimed that the process of migrating requires a space that the migrant calls home, first as the origin of the migration and then as a space that he tries to establish at his destination. I will now apply this idea to The God of Small Things, beginning with a quote from the prologue of Rosemary Marangoly George’s The politics of home:

What then, is home? […] One distinguishing feature of places called home is that they are built on select inclusions. The inclusions are grounded in a learned (or taught) sense of a kinship that is extended to those who are perceived as sharing the same blood, race, class, gender, or religion. Membership is maintained by bonds of love, fear, power, desire and control. Homes are manifest on geographical, psychological and material levels. They are places that are recognized as such by those within and those without. They are places of violence and nurturing. […] Home is a place to escape to and a place to escape from. Its importance lies in the fact that it is not equally available to all. Home is a desired place that is fought for and established as the exclusive domain of a few. It is not a neutral place. (1996, 9)

Against the background of this definition there remains only one place that is home to the protagonists, and that is Ayemenem and the Ayemenem House. The residents there share the things that George is asking for: race, class, or, in this case, caste, and religion. They are tied together by love in the case of Ammu, Estha and Rahel, or by control in the case of Baby Kochamma, who wields her power over all the other family members after Sophie Mol’s death. We can also find violence, starting from Pappachi, who beats his wife, to Chacko, who drives his sister away from their home, but also nurturing, when we consider that the twins certainly had a happy childhood in Ayemenem before Sophie Mol’s arrival.

Sophie Mol’s and Margaret’s visit in India is another aspect of home. For the Ipe Family, especially for the elder and more traditionally thinking members like Mammachi, it is not a visit, but a returning home. In her understanding, a wife always moves to her husband and not the other way round, like Chacko has done in England at first. When Sophie Mol comes to India, “Mammachi play[s] a Welcome Home, Our Sophie Mol melody on her violin.” (Roy 1997, 183). So for her, Sophie’s home is Ayemenem, after all corresponding to George’s criterion of sharing the same blood and for this reason being part of the same home.

And then there is escaping, of course. On the one hand it is an escape to Ayemenem when the migrating characters have nowhere else to go, namely Chacko and Ammu after their divorces, and Estha when he is returned by his father. But on the other hand it is an escape from Ayemenem that is more significant, because it sets off several disastrous events that change the lives of the involved persons forever. That escape is Estha’s, Rahel’s and Sophie Mol’s running away.

I think there is more meaning behind this escape and behind the fact that it is an attempt to get away from Ayemenem. It shows that Ayemenem is a good home to the children only as long as nothing too serious happens. But when Estha is abused by the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man, he does not feel safe anymore because the man knows where Estha lives. Not to feel safe in his own home with his own family is a very serious circumstance for a little child. Estha realizes that his home can not offer him the protection that a home is supposed to offer: “I’m going Akkara, […] To the History House. […] Because Anything can Happen to Aynone, […] It’s Best to be Prepared.” (Roy 1997, 198). So he sets out for a new home in the History House, across the Ayemenem river.

By the time Ammu has died and Rahel is left with Chacko, Mammachi and Baby Kochamma in Ayemenem, basically being an orphan, Ayemenem is no home for Rahel anymore. “In matters related to the raising of Rahel, Chacko and Mammachi tried, but couldn’t. They provided the care (food, clothes, fees), but withdrew the concern.” (Roy 1997, 15). Rahel changes schools frequently and later emigrates to the United States, always looking for a new home, but she essentially remains homeless.

“Then Baby Kochamma wrote to say that Estha had been re-Returned. Rahel gave up her job at the gas station and left America gladly. To return to Ayemenem. To Estha in the rain.” (Roy 1997, 20). Only after she hears from Estha’s return does she get attracted to Ayemenem again because that is where her closest relative lives, which gives the place back an important aspect of home.

4. Crossing borders

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The Ayemenem River that I have just mentioned is probably the most intelligible and present, and also the most fatal border that appears in The God of Small Things. There is the Ayemenem House, the protagonists’ home, on one side, and the History House on the other side, which is the goal of Estha’s plans to run away, the place where Ammu and Velutha meet and the place where Velutha is eventually beaten up by the policemen. The river itself becomes fatal to Sophie Mol, who dies when she tries to cross it.

The transgressions of the river are not only of a topographical nature, but are also transgressions in a figurative sense. Ammu’s and Velutha’s relationship, which takes place on the other side of the river, is certainly the worst transgression of rules by traditional Indian standards, because it violates the caste system. Alex Tickell points out where exactly the significance of this transgression is to be found: “As a paravan, Velutha in TGST belongs to this stigmatized ‘untouchable’ group, and it is this fact that makes his affair with Ammu – and their mutual erotic ‘touching’ – such a transgressive act.” (2007, 23).

Estha, Rahel and Sophie Mol run away from their family, in search of a new home. Estha does not plan to do this to teach his mother a lesson or to be found and regained, which are probably the motives of most small children who escape from their home, but, in his childlike naivety, he is serious about leaving and living on his own. This becomes clear when he talks to Rahel about it: “‘Are we going to become communists?’ Rahel asked. ‘Might have to.’ Estha-the-Practical.” (Roy 1997, 200). And they even lie to Velutha about their plans, when he helps them fixing the boat: “[Velutha:] ‘I don’t want you playing any silly games on this river.’ ‘We won’t. We promise. We’ll use it only when you’re with us.’” (Roy 1997, 213).

So I guess that Estha is well aware of the fact that he is about to break the rules by crossing the river. But from his perspective, it is his only option, because another serious transgression has happened before, one of parental rules, when Ammu told her children:

‘If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be here! None of this would have happened! I wouldn’t be here! I would have been free! I should have dumped you in an orphanage the day you were born! You’re the millstones round my neck! […] Just go away!’ Ammu had said. ‘Why can’t you just go away and leave me alone?’ (Roy 1997, 253)

What could be more cruel for children to hear this from their mother? Thus it appears to me that Estha can not be blamed for what he did, he is, after all, a 8-year-old boy in a very tough situation. There is, however, no way around it that Estha is the one setting off the events that result in Sophie Mol’s death. The narrator mentions this, too:

Her [Margaret Kochamma’s] mind fastened like a limpet onto the notion that Estha was somehow responsible for Sophie Mol’s death. Odd, considering that Margaret Kochamma didn’t know that it was Estha […] who had broken the rules and rowed Sophie Mol and Rahel across the river in the afternoons in a little boat, […] Estha who had made the back verandah of the History House their home away from home, […] Estha who had decided that though it was dark and raining, the Time Had Come for them to run away, because Ammu didn’t want them any more.
Despite not knowing any of this, why did Margaret Kochamma blame Estha for what had happened to Sophie? Perhaps she had a mother’s instinct. (Roy 1997, 264)

What plays an even bigger part in Estha becoming traumatized is a second transgression of rules, the betrayal of Velutha at the police station, when he accuses him of Sophie Mol’s death: “But worst of all, he [Estha] carried inside him the memory of a young man with an old man’s mouth. […] And what had Estha done? He had looked into that beloved face and said: Yes. Yes, it was him.” (Roy 1997, 32).

When the story is told from Rahel’s point of view 23 years later, she, too, blames her mother, her brother and herself, accusing them and herself of crossing borders:

Perhaps Ammu, Estha and she were the worst transgressors. But it wasn’t just them. It was the others too. They all broke the rules. They all crossed into forbidden territory. They all tampered with the laws that lay down who should be loved and how. And how much. (Roy 1997, 31)

And later she reflects:

Had they been deceived into doing what they did [betraying Velutha]? Had they been tricked into condemnation? In a way, yes. But it wasn’t as simple as that. They both knew that they had been given a choice. And how quick they had been in the choosing! (Roy 1997, 318-319)

But as 8-year-olds, the twins neither see through Baby Kochamma’s plan to mislead them into a wrong accusation of Velutha, nor do they know the concept of the love laws and their borders. Just like they do not see a boundary between each other – they think of themselves as one entity and one remembers things that only the other experienced – and just like the Food Products Organization banned their factory’s banana jam because it was not clearly on one side of the border that separates jam from jelly.

The problem is that nobody absolves them of their seeming guilt. The narrator himself wishes for “a counsellor with a fancy degree, who would sit them down and say, in one of many ways: ‘You’re not the Sinners. You’re the Sinned Against. You were only children. You had no control. You are the victims, not the perpetrators.’” (Roy 1997, 191).

5. Returning and loss of space, time and culture

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In my definition of migration I have stated that a migrant does not intend to return to the place he has left. If he does return, however, it means that something went wrong or is not working any longer at the place he migrated to. Relating to The God of Small Things this happens several times. Chacko and Ammu return after they get divorced and Rahel returns because she is not happy with her life in America and wants to meet her brother again.

Why do the characters want to return to the place they once wanted to leave? When they went away, they were looking for a new and better home. But the new home turned out to be worse than the home they have left, so they remember their past and think that they can go back and return to their old life. What they forget is that meanwhile their home including the people there might have changed, and that they themselves might have changed, too.

Heraclitus’ famous sentence panta rhei, everything flows, comes to mind. You can not step into the same river twice, because the second time the river has changed and so have you. While a going back in space can easily be accomplished simply by turning around and moving back to the origin, a clock can not be turned back and time can not be undone.

This is a common postcolonial concept: “[M]ultitudinous as movement in space is, it is visibly surpassed by one of a different kind: movement in time. This journey no one can avoid: we are all ‘migrants’ from our past.” (Santaollalla 1994, 164). They are migrants, who – in The God of Small Things – hope to return to their old life just to find out that the things that have happened can not be made undone.

Salman Rushdie connects the idea to the idea of home:

“The past is a foreign country,” goes the famous opening sentence of L.P. Hartley’s novel The Go-Between, “they do things differently there.” But the photograph [of my childhood house] tells me to invert this idea; it reminds me that it’s my present that is foreign, and that the past is home, albeit a lost home in a lost city in the mists of lost time. (Rushdie 1991, 9)

6. ‘The point of no return’

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I do not only want to discuss returns that actually take place in The God of Small Things, but also returns that are prevented, or returns and reversals that are not possible for the protagonists. The English language calls this idea the ‘point of no return’, and the Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘point of no return’ as “the position in a journey (esp. by air) beyond which it becomes impossible or impractical to return to the starting point, due to lack of fuel, etc.; (hence fig.) the point at which one becomes irrevocably committed to a course of action.”

Baby Kochamma is at various points the motor that drives the plot towards the desastrous events at the end. She accuses Velutha of abducting the children, only to get caught up in her intrigues herself. Baby Kochamma is filled with hate towards Velutha from her encounter with one of the protesters in the communists’ march, who has forced her to wave a red flag. “In the days that followed, Baby Kochamma focused all her fury at her public humiliation on Velutha. […] She began to hate him.” (Roy 1997, 82). Two weeks later she gets an opportunity for revenge, when she hears of Velutha’s and Ammu’s affair:

Baby Kochamma recognized at once the immense potential of the situation, but immediately anointed her thoughts with unctuous oils. She bloomed. She saw it as God’s Way of punishing Ammu for her sins and simultaneously avenging her (Baby Kochamma’s) humiliation at the hands of Velutha and the men in the march – the Modalali Mariakutty taunts, the forced flag-waving. She set sail at once. A ship of goodness ploughing through a sea of sin. (Roy 1997, 257)

In my opinion, now follows the point of no return. “They did what they had to do, the two old ladies. Mammachi provided the passion. Baby Kochamma the Plan.” (Roy 1997, 258). Baby Kochamma goes to the police station and makes up the story about Velutha raping Ammu and kidnapping the children. What she does not think of is that the twins would testify “that they had gone of their own volition” (Roy 1997, 314).

But a turning around is no longer possible, instead it now even seems as if Baby Kochamma herself could get in trouble for “lodging a false FIR” (Roy 1997, 315), and together with her Inspector Thomas Mathew, because he could be made responsible for Velutha’s death. So he forces her to frighten the twins and to make them identify Velutha as their kidnapper. But there is still something left that they did not consider, and that is Ammu’s love for Velutha. When she visits the police station, Inspector Thomas Mathew manages to silence her, but for Baby Kochamma, this is not enough: “Baby Kochamma knew she had to get Ammu out of Ayemenem as soon as possible.” (Roy 1997, 321). She arranges for Ammu to be expelled and for Estha to be returned to his father.

The question is, how could the author have saved the protagonists? If Baby Kochamma had not been so malicious, the twins would not have been separated and maybe would not have become traumatized. If Estha had not been abused by the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man, he would not have tried to run away. If Sophie had not come to India, she would not have drowned.

But these theories stop when it comes to Ammu and Velutha. Their love is illegitimate because of these ‘big things’ that the author herself is unable to change. And therefore the real point of no return is to be settled much earlier and mentioned in the text itself:

Still, to say that it all began when Sophie Mol came to Ayemenem is only one way of looking at it. Equally, it could be argued that it actually began thousands of years ago. Long before the Marxists came. […] That it really began in the days when the Love Laws were made. The laws that lay down who should be loved, and how. And how much. (Roy 1997, 33)

7. Hybridity

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A usual consequence of migrating is the formation of hybrid identities when the migrants interact with the local population. Biologically speaking a hybrid is an offspring with parents who belong to different races. This makes Sophie Mol the only real hybrid in The God of Small Things, since her father Chacko is an Indian and her mother Margaret is an Englishwoman.

Another, extended form of hybridity is mentioned by Baby Kochamma herself. “Baby Kochamma disliked the twins, for she considered them doomed, fatherless waifs. Worse still, they were Half-Hindu Hybrids whom no self-respecting Syrian Christian would ever marry.” (Roy 1997, 45). She calls the twins hybrids in reference to their religion, because their father Baba is a Hindu and their mother Ammu is a Syrian Christian like the rest of the Ipe family, a circumstance that had already caused disapproval of the marriage itself: “She wrote to her parents informing them of her decision [to get married to a Hindu]. They didn’t reply.” (Roy 1997, 39). After Ammu’s divorce, the whole affair leaves especially Baby Kochamma completely speechless:

She subscribed wholeheartedly to the commonly held view that a married daughter had no position in her parents’ home. As for a divorced daughter – according to Baby Kochamma, she had no position anywhere at all. And as for a divorced daughter from a love marriage, well, words could not describe Baby Kochamma’s outrage. As for a divorced daughter from a intercommunity love marriage – Baby Kochamma chose to remain quiveringly silent on the subject. (Roy 1997, 45-46)

In her essay Language, Hybridity and Dialogism in The God of Small Things, Anna Clarke explains why discussing hybridity is relevant to postcolonialism in particular.

Hybridity as a critical concept has had a privileged place in postcolonial studies. This is because contact and intermixture between different cultural groups have often taken place in the historical context of colonization. Since colonial relationships were often relationships of power between what the colonizers saw as the privileged ‘enlightened’, ‘civilized’, ‘rational’ and ‘advanced’ colonizer and the subaltern ‘barbaric’, ‘superstitious’, ‘backward’ colonized, hybridity in such contexts has often taken on a politicized dimension. (2007, 138)

In his prominent work The Location of Culture, Homi Bhabha looks for the space where culture actually can be found. He speaks of

conceptualizing an international culture, based not on the exoticism of multiculturalism or the diversity of cultures, but on the inscription and articulation of culture’s hybridity. To that end we should remember that it is the ‘inter’ – the cutting edge of translation and negotiation, the in-between space – that carries the burden of meaning in culture. (1994, 38)

Anna Clarke summarizes this: “To put it simply, the location of the meaning of culture is the contact zone between cultures: the space of culture’s hybridity.” (2007, 138). Bhabha calls this space the ‘Third Space’, in addition to the first two spaces or the two separate sides.

In my opinion it depends on the hybrid himself to define exactly what this Third Space looks like or where it is located, because he is left with two alternatives: Does he feel like somebody who is a part of both sides, for example the colonizer and the colonized, or does he feel like somebody who belongs to no side at all, which corresponds to a scenario that Chacko describes: “We belong nowhere. We sail unanchored on troubled seas. We may never be allowed ashore.” (Roy 1997, 53).

Salman Rushdie had a similar idea in Imaginary Homelands: “Our identity is at once plural and partial. Sometimes we feel that we straddle two cultures; at other times, that we fall between two stools.” (1991, 15). I think of all the characters in The God of Small Things, this description applies to Chacko the most. On the one hand he is very English, because he has lived in England for a long time as a father of a family, he has become accustomed to English habits and English culture and on the basis of these values he, for example, stops his father from beating his mother. But on the other hand, he falls back into a pattern that follows the strict Indian moral concepts when he batters down Ammu’s bedroom door and expels her from the Ayenemen Hose: “‘Get out of my house before I break every bone in your body!’” (Roy 1997, 225).

I want to return once again to Sophie Mol and her hybrid identity. The thing about her hybridity is that, although being half English and half Indian, she is not at all seen as a hybrid in Ayemenem, but only as an English girl: “It was about nine in the morning when Mammachi and Baby Kochamma got news of a white child’s body found floating downriver where the Meenachal broadens as it approaches the backwaters.” (Roy 1997, 252). Sophie is always referred to as being white and being English, her Indian heritage is not mentioned. She is from the beginning preferred to the twins by her anglophile Indian relatives. Only Ammu remains reserved towards Sophie and Margaret.

As much as Sophie is not seen as a hybrid by her family, but as being different, or even better then her Indian family members, just as much does she herself try to adapt herself to her cousins. She wants to be with them when they escape – it never was Estha’s plan to take Sophie Mol with him – and wants to make friends with them, be it by giving them presents: “Sophie Mol put the presents into her go-go bag, and went forth into the world. To drive a hard bargain. To negotiate a friendship.” (Roy 1997, 267). I think it is justified to say that Sophie acts like a hybrid, although she is not perceived as one.

On a formal level, in terms of language, The God of Small Things is full of hybridity, too. The author Arundhati Roy is Indian, but writes her novel in English. Throughout the text, however, the reader frequently comes across Malayalam words, poems or verses of songs. Sometimes an English translation is given, but sometimes the reader is left with the Malayalam sentences only: “A song from the Onam boatrace filled the factory. ‘Thaiy thaiy thaka thaiy thaiy thome!’ Enda da korangacha, chandi ithra thenjadu? (Hey Mr Monkey man, why’s your bum so red?)” (Roy 1997, 196).

Whereas here the reader who does not know Malayalam can not understand what is said, ignorance also appears the other way round. Sometimes characters in the book do not speak English and can not understand the other characters, for example Kochu Maria:

Estha would rise from the dead, stand on his bed and say, ‘Et tu? Kochu Maria? – Then fall Estha!’ and die again. Kochu Maria was sure that Et tu was an obscenity in English and was waiting for a suitable opportunity to complain about Eshta to Mammachi. (Roy 1997, 83)

But it also happens that characters speak English, but do not know what they are saying. They have learned to pronounce a word, but it has no meaning for them. Comrade Pillai’s son Lenin is a good example for this, when he cites Shakespeare: “‘lend me yawYERS;’” (Roy 1997, 274). But the twins, too, often play with English words and when they are the focalizers of the story, sometimes words are written as they imagine them: “They had to form the words properly, and be particularly careful about their pronunciation. Prer NUN sea ayshun.” (Roy 1997, 36).

8. Formal migrations and returns

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To continue to discuss the form of the novel, it can be said that it does not only contain hybrid elements, but that it is also full of migrations and returns on a formal level. This begins with the just mentioned words that are written in the way the focalizer perceives them, which means the rules of English orthography are transgressed. The narrator does not always comply with these rules either. Words are frequently written with a capital to stress their meaning, even within the word itself: “re-Returned” (Roy 1997, 9). Sometimes the layout of the text is broken, very often to quote poems or verses of songs, but also within the normal text, giving it a poetic aspect, or to imitate signs, for example at the board at the police station, that reads:

P oliteness

O bedience

L oyalty

I ntelligence

C ourtesy

E fficiency

(Roy 1997, 8)

We also find numerous repetitions of the same expressions, sometimes slightly altered. The thoughts about the love laws appear three times in the novel, but always with small changes:

That it really began in the days when the Love Laws were made. The laws that lay down who should be loved, and how. And how much. (Roy 1997, 33)

Where the Love Laws lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much. (Roy 1997, 177)

Only that once again they broke the Love Laws. That lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much. (Roy 1997, 328)

If we look at how the whole story is presented, we come across a very mixed up timeline. There are the two main plot lines, one taking place in the two weeks of Sophie Mol’s time in Ayemenem, and the other one taking place 23 years later, after Rahel meets her twin brother Estha again. But even within these two timelines we also find frequent returns in time and shifts backwards and forwards, prolepses and analepses, and several incidents are narrated more than one time: “Then he tapped her breasts with his baton.” (Roy 1997, 8) and “he tapped her breasts with his baton” (Roy 1997, 260).

The main events, Sophie Mol’s death, Ammu’s and Velutha’s affair and Velutha’s death, Rahel’s return, they all are mentioned in the first pages of the book, even though the reader can not make all the connections yet. The detailed causes and effects of the events are only laid out in bits and pieces in the rest of the novel.

9. Conclusion

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In conclusion it can be said that the topic of migrating and returning in The God of Small Things is very diverse. There are actual migrations by the protagonists or migrations in the figurative sense, when the characters cross borders, including the resulting consequences, such as hybrid identities or homelessness. But there are also migrations and returns in the way the text is written by Arundhati Roy, migrations for example in the sense of formal transgressions, and returns for example in the sense of coming back to the same events several times. The purpose of this work was to give an overview over the different aspects of the topic, both in general postcolonial studies and in The God of Small Things in detail.

10. Literature

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Roy, Arundhati. 1997. The God of Small Things. London: Flamingo.

Bhabha, Homi K. 1994. The Location of Culture. London: Routledge.

Clarke, Anna. 2007. “Language, Hybridity and Dialogism in The God of Small Things”. Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. Ed. Alex Tickell. London: Routledge. 132-141.

George, Rosemary Marangoly. 1996. The politics of home. Postcolonial relocations and twentieth-century fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rushdie, Salman. 1991. Imaginary Homelands. Essays and Criticism 1981 – 1991. London: Granta Books.

Santaollalla, Isabel. 1994. “A Fictitious Return to the Past: Saleem Sinai’s Autobiographical Journey in Salman Rushdie’s Midnights Children”. “Return” in Post-Colonial Writing. A Cultural Labyrinth. Ed. Very Mihailovich-Dickman. Amsterdam: Rodopi. 163-170.

Tickell, Alex. 2007. “Cultural contexts”. Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. Ed. Alex Tickell. London: Routledge. 19-46.

“migro v1″. 1994. The Pocket Oxford Latin Dictionary. Ed. James Morwood. Oxford Reference Online: Oxford University Press.

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