Sibling Relations in The God of Small Things In The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy (156) says that “there are things
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Sibling Relations in The God of Small Things In The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy (156) says that “there are things that you can’t do – like writing letters to a part of yourself.”
This statement, emerging from the mind of
the female twin named Rahel, establishes the theme of the novel with respect to the intimate relationship between twins. Despite having been born “from separate but simultaneously fertilized eggs,” or being dizygotic or fraternal rather than identical twins, Rahel and her brother Estha are so intertwined psychically that even the science into which the brother Ethappen enters does not separate them (4).
This brief essay
will examine the theme of constant communication and the inescapable linkage between twins as this theme is presented in Roy’s novel. Estha and Rahel “never did look much like each other” and the confusion regarding their synergies “lay in a deeper, more secret place (4).”
As young children, these twins are described
as thinking of themselves “together as me and separately, individually, as We or Us.
As though they were a rare breed of
Siamese twins, physically separate, but with joint identities (4-5).”
So intimately intertwined are the psyches of these two
individuals that Rahel actually has a memory “of waking up one night giggling at Estha’s funny dream (5).”
These two children, born to a lonely mother who takes a lover, surrounded by adult relatives described as difficult at best, and subject to many different family and personal tragedies, are exceptional in their youth because of their shared lives.
Together, they are united in the face of family
traumas and are mutually supportive. This young couple – and it is quite clear that they function as a couple for much of their youth – share various “Terrors” as they attempt to navigate family relationships. They are a brother and sister “who had never been shy of each other’s bodies, but they had never been old enough (together) to know what shyness was (88).”
Ultimately, the siblings, in their
separate identities, achieve as they mature, a sense of distance from one another.
The normal adolescent development is forever
changed when Estha enters into a period of silence. Estha is described as someone who “had always been a quiet child, so no one could pinpoint with any degree of accuracy exactly when… he had stopped talking. altogether (12).”
The arrival of quietness is what distances
the boy from his sister, striping “his thoughts of the words that described them” and permitting him “to withdraw from the world (13).”
Rahel, in contrast, brings to her brother “the
sound of passing trains, and the light and shade that falls on you if you have a window seat (16).”
In other words, his
sister’s presence opens the closed gates that have prevented Estha from speaking and from expressing himself freely. The young boy is sent away from the family, but ultimately is “returned,” reunited with his sister when they are older.
Roy (149) describes this, it is “as though that was what twins were meant for. books.”
To be borrowed and returned.
In this return, what both of the twins and particularly
Rahel discover is that “separately, the two of them are no longer what They were or ever thought They’d be.
lives have a size and a shape now. Estha has his and Rahel hers (5).” Though it may not be necessary for twins who are separated to communicate with one another verbally, what Roy (5) seems to suggest is that there are events and actions that can ultimately diminish the bonds that exist between twins or at the very least, permit them to have separate identities and separate lives.<