The God of Small Things | Study Guide

Arundhati Roy

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The God of Small Things | Chapter 19 : Saving Ammu | Summary

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Summary

When the police get back to the police station, Inspector Thomas Mathew deals with the children. The officers tell him about the provisions found at the History House, and this does not make him happy. He realizes that Baby Kochamma has lied to him about Velutha's responsibility in regard to the disappearance of the children—much less the rape of Ammu—and he sends for her. He threatens to have her charged with making a false claim, and so she knows she must get the children to corroborate her tale. The way she does this is through threats. She accuses them of murdering Sophie Mol because of jealousy. She says they and their mother will go to jail. However, because the police have made the mistake of believing Velutha is guilty of the crime, if they go along with that story they can save themselves and Ammu. Baby Kochamma points out that Velutha is going to die anyway.

So the inspector takes Estha to where Velutha has been locked up and asks him one question. Estha identifies Velutha as the guilty one, and the twins are released from the station. Velutha dies that night.

When Ammu hears from the children the next morning what happened at the police station, she goes to try to set things right with Inspector Thomas Mathew. But it is too late. Shocked that Ammu would admit to sleeping with Velutha, Baby Kochamma determines she must be made to leave Ayemenem. She works on the grief-stricken Chacko's rage until he throws his sister out. Baby also orchestrates the removal of Estha to his father's house, leaving just Rahel for the family to care for.

Analysis

In this chapter Baby Kochamma is portrayed as perhaps the most despicable character in the story. Her manipulative, ugly personality rules the day in a time of tragedy. Her cruelty to the children is hard to imagine. They never recover, are never sure that they had been tricked into betraying Velutha. After all, they were given a choice and they chose "Save Ammu."

People in authority also continue to act out of self-interest. The inspector knows he has ordered a terrible action, but he has no intention of setting it right. He, too, is cruel to the children. No one should have to see Velutha in the horrible condition he is in, especially not the young Estha who loves him. But the inspector forces that to happen. As Rahel did at the History House during the beating, Estha decides he is looking at Velutha's make-believe twin brother. How else could he get through it?

Unlike Baby Kochamma or Inspector Thomas Mathew, Ammu does try to take responsibility for what has happened, simply by telling the truth. Yet the truth is not what people want to hear, and so she is banished. Velutha is dead, and as Roy points out, "the end of living" has come to Ammu, Rahel, and Estha.

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