The God of Small Things | Study Guide

Arundhati Roy

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The God of Small Things | Chapter 18 : The History House | Summary

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Summary

In the early morning hours of the night Velutha, Rahel, and Estha cross the Meenachal River and go to the History House, six police officers follow them. They march in step to the house and then creep around until they find Velutha on the veranda. They attack him violently, kicking him and beating him. The police do not know Estha and Rahel are watching. The scene is bloody, and the children see it and smell it. Rahel tries to deal with the horror of what she sees by pretending it is Velutha's make-believe twin brother who is being beaten.

When the police find Estha and Rahel, they also find their supplies. They realize this might be evidence that the children have come here on their own, have not been kidnapped by Velutha as has been implied, and so they take everything with them. The children are walked out, and the police drag Velutha, barely alive but nevertheless handcuffed, on the ground.

Analysis

This scene is horribly cruel and violent, yet Roy opens the chapter by portraying the Kottayam police as cartoon-like. It's as if what happens is too hard to deal with as reality. The beauty of nature and of the History House are juxtaposed against the ugly brutality of the police officers' actions. Still, Roy wants to be clear that the men feel justified in what they do; they believe they are protecting the "Touchable Future." Their actions are based on fear, fear of a change in their status and in the fabric of the culture. They act to "inoculat[e] a community against an outbreak."

Several things that have been referenced previously in the novel are now placed as part of this devastating scene. The police officers notice Velutha's nails, painted red by the children. The children's toys are taken away, but Rahel's watch, the one with the time painted on it as 10 to two is left behind. A rubber goose is popped with a cigarette. Despite how broken Velutha's body is, the Lucky Leaf shape on his back can still be seen. All of the pieces of the puzzle of the Terror are now complete.

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