The God of Small Things | Study Guide

Arundhati Roy

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The God of Small Things | Chapter 17 : Cochin Harbor Terminus | Summary



Returning to the present time of the narrative, the chapter opens with Estha once again sitting silently in his room at the Ayemenem House. It is a rainy night, and he sits in darkness. Kochu Maria sleeps in front of the television on the floor of the drawing room. Baby Kochamma fills in discount coupons and writes her daily entry in her journal: "I love you. I love you." She has never stopped loving Father Mulligan, even though he has been dead for four years now. She is also eavesdropping, trying to keep track of the whereabouts of Estha and Rahel. She doesn't know that Rahel is in Estha's room, lying on his bed. Rahel is thinking about how beautiful she is, how much she looks like Ammu.

Estha is also thinking about the farewell scene at the train station when he was sent to Baba's to live. He remembers meeting the man who escorts him on the trip to Madras. He remembers his last glimpse of his beautiful mother and his sister. And then he remembers the final, horrible events leading up to his departure that no one but he and Rahel really know the whole truth about, as eyewitnesses to what happened to Velutha at History House so many years ago.


Things have never really changed much around Ayemenem House, except for the decay seen everywhere. The blue Pontiac can still be seen, and the factory still stands. Baby Kochamma still loves Father Mulligan and distrusts Rahel and Estha, wishing they would leave. The haunting memories are still in the rooms and brought to mind by the strong family resemblances.

Several times in the novel Roy has referred to the History House as the "Heart of Darkness." This chapter ends with a particularly ominous reference to it, stating that the police cross the river and go "clumping into the Heart of Darkness," in pursuit of Velutha.

Heart of Darkness is a novel by Joseph Conrad (1899), set in the Congo. One of the main themes of the book is that so-called civilized people are not very different from people labeled as savages. Civilized people can be violent and hateful, especially when racism exists. The relevance to The God of Small Things is obvious. The "civilized" upper castes in India are horrible to the lower castes, and horrible violence is about to occur

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