Ammu the system, as a daughter marginalized in a

Ammu in the
novel The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, has been affected by the
society she was born into. Ammu in the novel is a prime example of not just the
brutality and injustice of her world she lived in but also the happiness she
experiences through her relationship with her children and also with her lover Velutha.
Arundhati Roy’s novel is about an Indian family in which their lives are
severely based by social norms and expectations, especially of women. The God
of Small Things incorporates issues such as family, history, love and gender
issues in Indian society. Ammu experience in the novel helps address the issues
that the author is trying to raise about gender issues as well as caste systems.
Ammu, as a daughter in household, has always rebelled against society
expectations.  

Ammu throughout
the novel is seen to be a victim of injustice against women within the society.
Growing up, Ammu was always faced with a poor family life at home mentally and
emotionally. Her father used to mistreat her mother. The Kochamma family has a poor
family history in relations to the members. Ammu’s mother, Mammachi, for
example, is severely beaten and abused by her husband as well. Ammu’s father
believe that her only objective in life was to find a reasonable and reliable
husband depending upon him for the rest of her life. In order to be a respected
daughter of this time, you needed to follow your fathers’ orders and what was
expected as a woman. Ammu turned out to be, the biggest victim of the system, as
a daughter marginalized in a male-controlled society. Ammu “tampered with laws
that lay down who should be loved and how and how much” (31), which refers
to Ammu always breaking the rules, and loving whoever she wanted however she
wanted, whenever she wanted. These were the Love Laws that were set in place
for woman of the time. Ammu, the central character of the novel, has very
little existence and say in the family structure she was born into.

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Marriage is
the only justification of a women’s’ survival during this time.  In fact,
Ammu had no choice other than accepting whatever life offers her. Unfortunately,
her husband turned out to be a drunk, very unreasonable, and unable to support
the family. Ammu, was very obedient, and decided to stick up for what was best
for her and her children, and decided to leave her abusive husband. A woman
during this time would have never even dared to divorce their husband,
especially after have children with them. Because she divorced her husband,
this was something that was frowned. Baby Kochamma, the antagonist in the
novel, lived to put people down and described Ammu to be “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…. As for a divorced daughter from an intercommunity
love marriage” in which she is shunning everything Ammu has ever done. Not
only did baby Kochamma feel about Ammu in the society, but she spoke for most
people. Once Ammu had returned home, she was not welcomed back by her family. A
divorced woman with children during this time, had no rights in society or to
their own property. A divorce woman had no right to pursue for happiness in
life. As a divorced wife as well as mother, she was judged and scorned by society
and her family. Because of this, Ammu was forever judged in her community.

Velutha and
Ammu’s romance is a political and social love affair that goes against social
caste system as well as the Untouchables place in society. Ammu and Velutha are
portrayed in the novel as the victims of the cruel social system. Ammu’s gender
and Velutha’s caste were looked upon as their faults. The world and community
around them is so unsympathetic, and only the few moments they spend together
afford real happiness. In one of Ammu’s dreams, she dreams about her life with Velutha,
“If he touched her he couldn’t talk to her, if he loved her he couldn’t leave,
if he spoke he couldn’t listen, if he fought he couldn’t win” (104), which shows
how the two wanted to be together but it just was not socially acceptable. They
wanted to do all these things, but in the end, he knew they could never be
together publically. It was the small things that society did not accept.

 The
outcast can never co-exist peaceful with the “touchable” communities
for as long as the stigma of untouchability is attached to him and countless others
like him. Ammu, another untouchable within the touchable cannot pursue
happiness because doing so threatens the existing order, and the society takes
every possible step to stop change. The love between Ammu and Velutha are destructive
forces because it intensifies the tensions between the families of different
caste as well as the consequences of being involved with another caste. Velutha
is of a lower class then Ammu and being together, they break the Love Laws set
in place by society. “The cost of living climbed to unaffordable heights. “shows
how both Velutha and Ammu felt alive for the first time with each other. It
felt so right to them but they knew it was so wrong. The cost of their love with
be even greater than the both of them could imagine.

Caste
Systems was a big deal during this time, as well as reputation. Ammu and
Velutha both had lost all of their respect from their families to the point where
Veluthas father “Offering to kill his son. To tear him limb from limb” (242),
which showed how important these caste systems were to society and how quickly
it could tear people apart, in other words, how quickly “Things could change in
a day” (78). It is the conditions which bring them together-soul, mind and
body- and form the unique relationship in the novel where the relationship
emerges as a vital need of life without which life collides against aloneness
and it is almost destroyed. Ammu referred to Velutha “She knew who he was
– the God of Loss, the God of Small Things. Of course, she did”
(210) in which Velutha is a small thing in society because of his status as an
untouchable. Velutha was not invincible. Although Velutha was beaten to death
because of his actions, the one thing that was beautiful about his death was
his passion for love, and doing what he loved and make him happy. He was sick
of following social orders and love laws and was Ammu, which why was they were
so in love. Although Velutha was an untouchable, in other words is status was nearly
no value, the God of Small Things is Velutha as a representation of all the
small things that are often times overlooked. In a society that is more concerned
with Big Things such as the caste system, political affiliations, and marriage,
Roy directs the reader to the small things that often times hold more weight in
the overall impact on the lives of the characters in the novel. Ammu’s family
and even his own family begin to detest him, and think that he will bring
trouble to their families after his affair with Ammu. However, the twins, Rahel
and Estha, do not see him in eyes of society and build a bond with him. They
are unaware of his status as an untouchable or as a communist, and still
continue a friendship with him despite the family’s protests.

Ammu in the
God of Small Things has a lot in common with Mariane from the play Tartuffe. Mariane
in the play Tartuffe, is a prime
example of a women acting in a way that is consistent with the standards of her
time. During the 17th century, women were expected to have little to
no say and do as their father wished. Very similar to Ammu, she was expected to
do as her father wished even if it leads to her own unhappiness as well as act
in the way the of their standards of that time. Mariane in her society was
expected to be an obedient girl that did not voice her opinion about anything
and did was she was told. Mariane, the daughter of the household is very
willing to do whatever her father asks of her. Mariane is a quiet character in
which we see in Act 1 of Tartuffe “And you, his sister, seem so pure, so shy,
so innocent, and so demure” to resemble her passive duty as a woman of this
time.  

Mariane in
the play is forced to marry Tartuffe, demanded by her father. Woman of this
time were expected to marry reasonably, just as Ammu was expected. Marriage was
the only thing these women were useful for during the 17th century as well for
the family of the Kochamma.  However, she
is in love with a man named Valere. Valere does not get much credit compared to
Tartuffe. Tartuffe is looked more highly of, just as for Ammu, Velutha was
looked at as Valere. Both of these men did not reach the standards of their time.
 The love between Valere and Marine is
very similar to Veluthas love for Ammu. The first of those actions is Mariane
is not able to stick up for herself as the other characters do. Ammu and Velutha
tried to keep their love go as long as possible without being caught. They
stood up for what they believed in by bringing two caste systems together. This
is the one thing that Mariane and Ammu did not have in common. Ammu always
chose to not follow the rules and no problem and going against what was expected
in society. Although she knew her affair with Velutha was not acceptable, their
love brought one another happiness and she continue to see him secretively. Although
Ammu married to make her family happy, she was also very quick to divorce
making her family resent her. Mariane in his play, is afraid to disappoint her
father but not doing what makes him happy even if it meant for her to be
miserable. She wanted to be to the good daughter to her father.

A woman’s
role during this time was to please your family but most importantly your
father and husband. Mariane is very afraid to go against her father because she
knew that would frowned upon and never wanted to disappoint her father. This
was the one main difference between Mariane and Ammu. If Marine would have done
what Ammu would have done, she would have faced the same consequences. If
Mariane was to marry Tartuffe and cheat or divorce him, she would be judged by
society. Reputation to her family was very important, and this would ruin
theirs as well as hers. This is what Ammu did. She married and divorced.  As you can see gender issues and caste systems
was a major problem for both woman in The God of Small Things and Tartuffe. Mariane
meets the expectations of a woman during this time. Ammu went against the
expectation of her time in Indian society. Mariane was true to her father and did
what she was expected of her. Ammu married for her father, but realized her
marriage was no good for her and left and started to do what was best for her. Ammu
had challenged the traditional role of women during this time. She was a
touchable that spoke her mind and did the unthinkable. It did not matter what
caste system anyone was in, Ammu was always honest with what she felt which is
why she took it as far as she did with Velutha.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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