The God of Small Things and Psychoanalysis
The author often uses dreams and thought as instruments in her novel, to help make readers clear about the unconscious condition of the mind of the characters. The psychological effects of all the major characters in the novel are distinct. The twins’s mother constantly dreams of the one-armed man, that is obviously Velutha. One of the twins, his son, accurately says:
‘She dreams a lot.’ If he touched her, he couldn’t talk to her, if he loved her, he couldn’t leave if he spoke, he couldn’t listen, if he fought, he couldn’t win. Who was he, the one-armed man? Who could he have been? The God of loss? The God of Small Things? The God of Goose Bumps and Sudden Smiles? Of Sourmeal Smells – the steel bus –rails and the smell of the bus conductor’s hand from holding them? (Roy 217).
In addition to her mother, Rahel constantly dreams of an unknown over-weighted male figure who symbolically represents the words of Chacko to Ammu. Chacko said that Ammu couldn’t stay in the house any longer, and if she did, he’d break Ammu’s bones one by one without any compassion. “After that for years Rahel would dream this dream: a fat man, faceless, kneeling beside a woman’s corpse. Hacking its hair off. Breaking every bone in its body. Snapping even the little ones. The fingers. The ear bones cracked like twigs. Snapsnap the softsound of breaking bones. A pianist killing the piano keys. Even the black ones.” (Roy 225). In his book Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud states that for a patient with neurosis, through the type of Dream, their mind often plays back the circumstance or the traumatic event that it had experienced before, from which they wake up with different struggles and that surprises people much less.
As in the case of Estha, this is a parallel processing of vision and thought: “The Orangedrnk Lemondrnk Man could walk in any minute. Catch a Cochin—Kottayam bus and be there And Ammu woulf ofler him a cup of tea. Or pineapple squash perhaps. With ice Yellow in a glass.” (Roy 194). This is the product of the Lemon drink man’s encounter with Estha who, molests him physically outside talkies near the refrigeration counter. Although Baby Kochamma is different from the others, she grows in a situation in which she must be very aware of all. All of the leading character in the novel are partly the survivors of their own past, troubled by their childhood trauma.
Rahel and Estha had no portrait of a father to accompany them in their lives and they grow up without a father figure. As a result, in their third stage of development between the ages of 3 and 6, these two children would probably never have developed castration anxiety like that faced by other abnormal children. According to Sigmund Freud, the phallic stage has a critical role to play in improving the psychological fitness of the child. For him, this is the stage in which the ego opens up something referred to as defence mechanism to defend the self from feeling depressed. One of the defence mechanisms is repression, an unconscious emotional action that drags the problems down to the id or the subconscious mind, which is unbearable to an individual’s ego or conscious mind.
This third stage of development which takes on the concept of the ego’s defense mechanism is the second developmental mental process after the id or the unconscious mind. This stage is a vital development in a child, and plays an important role in the growth of the child’s psyche in order to prepare a strong personality physically and mentally for a healthy adult life. In this way, the individuals who are fixated in the third stage of their developmental process are called mother/father fixated. These people are most likely attracted to the person who resembles their parents. In Estha’s case it’s Rahel. His Sister.
A significant viewpoint is the entangled identity and insight that he and she have between them: “In those amorphous years when memory had only just begun, when life was full of Beginning and no Ends, and Everything was For Ever, Esthappen and Rahel thought of themselves together as Me, and separately, individually as We or Us.” (Roy 2). After the Madras Mail Incident for twenty-three long years, she never wrote to her brother, not even to inform him about their mother’s death, she clarifies, saying that “Rahel never wrote to him. There are things that you can’t do – like writing letters to a part of yourself. To your feet or hair. Or heart. ” (Roy 163-64). This is very crucial to understand the vastness of their separation.
As Rahel saw Estha after the partition, she tailed him to his room that once belonged to Ammu. “This room was where he kept all her secrets. It gave nothing away. It was like a room in a hospital after the nurse had just been” (Roy 91). The bond that the twins shared was out of standard, they knew each other so well simply like one knows the rear of one’s hand. In the wake of reading him for the great fifteen minutes, she considered him to be an outsider.“A dark brown man in pale honey clothes. Chocolate with a twist of coffee. High cheekbones and hunted eyes. A fisherman in a white – tailed bathroom, with sea-secrets in his eyes” (Roy, 92). The Estha that she knows as her twin sibling “the spoiled little boy” is no more. This is the significant point where Rahel acknowledges how far he had gone to keep his feelings covered, where nobody could get to them.
The following episodes can be viewed as Rahel’s endeavors to retouch her sibling’s uncertainties, insecurities. Esthappen had consistently been the mother’s boy from the earliest starting point, was both blameworthy and pain stricken about his mom’s state and his resulting division from Ammu. The author of the novel, on the one hand repeatedly fortifies the image of Ammu through Rahel, on the other hand Rahel is the one in particular who could empathise with Esthappen, “Except perhaps that no watcher watched through Rahel’s eyes” (Roy 328).
Rahel indeed goes further than the twin bond that the two of them share and consider him as her son who needs to be cherished. “She watched him with the curiosity of a mother watching her wet child..” (Roy 93). There are a lot of cases in the novel where Estha considers Rahel as his mom that he lost.“It was his fault that the faraway man in Ammu’s chest stopped shouting. His fault that she died alone in the lodge with no one to lie at the back of her and talk to her. Because he was the one that had said it” (Roy 325). He emphatically believes that he is the person who is exclusively liable for his mom’s passing and feels hopeless for what he had done to her.
In all the given chances, as the narrator Rahel and also the author of the novel desperately attempt patch the image of their mother and Rahel in her brother’s consciousness. In each symbol and image, the author of the novel never appears to disregard acquiring the image of Ammu. In the wake of leaving Baba, Ammu goes to Ayemenem’s nearest jewelry store and melts down her wedding ring, turning it into a bracelet with a two-headed snake for Rahel. When Rahel decides to approach Estha for the first time after the partition, this bracelet is the primary thing that the author presents the readers to recognize the presences of ‘Ammu’ in the scene. “A thin, gold, serpent-headed bangle glowed like a circle of orange light around her wrist. Slim snakes whispering to each other, head to head. Her mother’s melted wedding ring. Down softened the sharp lines of her thin, angular arms” (Roy 92). The author of the novel then proceeds to compare Rahel’s appearance with her mother. “She seemed to have grown into her mother’s skin at first glance. High cheekbones. Beautiful dimples when she smiled. But she was taller, harder flatter, more angular than her mother had been. Less attractive perhaps to those who liked roundness and softness in women. There was no question that her eyes were more beautiful” (Roy 92).
The author of the novel emphasizes the existence of Ammu for the second time by associating the figure of Rahel with Ammu. This time through Esthappen, the author continues to stress similarities between Rahel and her mother Ammu. When Estha notices Rahel for the first time after years, she looked alluring, her highlights reminded him about their mom and his past.
“A nagging sound started up in his head. The sound of passing trains. The light and shade and light and shade that falls on you if you have a window seat. He sat even straighter, he could see her. Grown into their mother’s skin. The light glint of her eyes in the dark. Her small straight nose. Her mouth, full lipped. Sometimes wounded-looking about it. As though it was flinching from something. As though long ago someone – a man with rings-had hit her across it. A beautiful, hurt mouth. Their beautiful mother’s mouth, Estha thought. Ammu’s mouth.” (Roy 300).
Esthappen envisions, his mom (Ammu) in each part of his sisters’ physical highlights, with her she bought every one of the things that Esthappen could identify with his ‘Beautiful Ammu’. To the readers it appears to be bizarre that he generally compared Rahel, his twin sister with his mom and not once with his sister’s childhood appearance.
TWENTY-THREE YEARS LATER, Rahel, dark woman in a yellow T-shirt, turns to Estha in the dark.‘Esthapappychachcn Kuttappen Peter Mon, she says.She whispers. She moves her mouth.Their beautiful mom’s mouth.Estha is sitting very straight, waiting to be arrested, takes his fingers to it. To touch the words it makes. To keep the whisper. His fingers follow the shape of it. The touch of teeth. His hand is held and kissed. (Roy 327).
In this scene he indeed brings back the memory of the railroad station, the seat by the window, his Ammu, the wonderful lips that she has, the lips that had touched his hand. Rahel, splendidly realizing what he throbs for, kisses his hand that followed her lips, much the same as her Ammu did in the station the last time where Estha saw his mom. Besides, the expressions that the author much of the time utilizes for both Rahel and Ammu ordinarily like “A viable die-able age. What a funny word old was on its own, Rahel thought, and said it to herself: Old.” (Roy 92), “once again they broke the love laws. That lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much.” (Roy 328) are lines that symbolizes ‘Ammu’ and features her presence frequently in every one of the things that Rahel does to Esthappen like their mom. That is to say, this is actually how Esthappen sees Rahel, similar to his Ammu, their mom.
Taking everything into account by considering the conditions that prevailed in the novel, it is seen that the twins make great efforts to conceal their emotions, and grow up isolated from the outside world. They keep everything on their own. To take Rahel into consideration by applying Freud’s psychoanalytic criticism, she was fixated in her fourth developmental stage and this may have caused her not to be sexually satisfied with her partner all the time. As stated above, she marries Larry McCaslin and moves to America, but she and Larry are divorced when Rahel’s “Emptiness” becomes too much. To take Estha into consideration in the same way, there is a high possibility of him being mother fixated and affected by Oedipal complex, and this could likewise be one reason that he was so obsessed with cleaning and the cause for his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder remaining completely quiet and disconnected with the outside world. This novel can be taken as one of the many examples of children who are growing up in the abnormal situations with traumatic past, suffering its great influence as it impacts the shaping of their personality as adults.
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