The God of Small Things | Study Guide

Arundhati Roy

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The God of Small Things | Chapter 7 : Wisdom Exercise Notebooks | Summary

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Summary

The action returns to the Ayemenem House at the present time in the narrative. Rahel is in Pappachi's study, looking for items that she hid behind books as a child. She believes she might be able to reach Estha inside his silence if she can share things with him from their childhood. She is surprised to find that other people have hidden things, too. She finds the notebooks referenced in the chapter title, items created by the twins as part of their education, probably put there by Ammu.

Rahel reads aloud entries written by Estha. One entry titled Little Ammu and written about their mother's birthday celebration has been corrected by Ammu and leads Rahel to think about the last time she saw her mother alive and to recall the details of her death. She had died alone in a "grimy room," succumbing to asthma at just 31 years of age. Chacko took Rahel to the crematorium where Ammu's body was burned. They were given her ashes in a clay pot. Rahel never communicated with Estha about it.

When she looks up from her musings, Rahel sees that Estha has silently disappeared. When she looks for him, she sees him headed through the gate, out for his daily walk.

Analysis

Significantly, Rahel refers to Estha early in this chapter as "An Estha-shaped Hole in the Universe." She is acknowledging that he is no longer of this world, yet he has left his mark on it. She doesn't seem to realize that trying to reach him through their damaging childhood is not the way to go.

As she remembers her last day with Ammu, Rahel also acknowledges that her mother participated in the desire to hold time frozen. She wanted her children to remain the way they were when the family was split apart, unchanged until she could have them with her again. She lived outside of reality because it was the only way she could survive. To a certain extent, this is true also of her children.

A significant clue about the big event that tore the family apart appears in this chapter. Rahel mentions that Ammu had been forced to pack her bags and leave Ayemenem because "Chacko said she had destroyed enough already." So her actions are behind the loss of her family. As Rahel says, Ammu "never completed her corrections."

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