Page 33. " Still, to say that it all began when Sophie Mol came to Ayemenem is only one way of looking at it. Equally, it could be argued that it actually began thousands of years ago. Long before the Marxists came. Before the British took Malabar, before the Dutch Ascendancy, before Vasco da Gama arrived, before the Zamorin's conquest of Calicut. Before three purple-robed Syrian bishops murdered by the Portuguese were found floating in the sea, with coiled sea serpents riding on their chests and oysters knotted in their tangled beards. It could be argued that it began long before Christianity arrived in a boat and seeped into Kerala like tea from a teabag. That it really began in the days when the Love Laws were made. The laws that lay down who should be loved, and how. And how much. "

When I first read this section I was slightly alarmed by the massive amount of detailed historical references  - how was I to make sense of something that extensively references events I am not even remotely familiar with? What is important to know here is that the specifics of the occurrences mentioned are not what is of significant - rather it is the emphasis of the fact that all of these obscure events have culminated into what is conveyed as the present in the story, as the present, which is key here. Were the trials and tribulations of the Ipe family pre-decided thousands of years ago when these now rather obscure decisions were made? Is fate or a 'bigger plan' to blame for their misfortune, or is it just Sophie mol? These are the questions that Roy wants to instill in you from this passage.


Page 35. " ...enough bombs were being dropped to cover all of it in six inches of steel. "

This quote speaks to the turmoil that frequently broke out in the Eastern regions of the country, most probably between Pakistan and India. Despite the lack of immediate turmoil to the twins, Ammu and Chacko as they drive towards Cochin; Roy's inclusion of this information is somewhat predictive in nature. It alludes to the imminent tragedy that will end Sophie Mol's visit to India, and change the lives of the characters involved forever. Whether the bomb be in its metallic explosive form, or merely an event in one's life, the result is always the same in that it leaves what was before it shattered and barely resembling that which it was before.

Page 35. " A skyblue Plymouth "
Page 36. " She made them write lines - 'impositions' she called them - I will always speak in English, I will always speak in English. "

Baby Kochamma reprimands the twins for speaking in Malayalam, by both taking money from their pocket money and by punishing them in the form of writing lines. It was - and possibly still remains to be - the belief that the ability to speak English was of the higher classes in the caste system. Thus, in the days leading up to Sophie Mol and her mother's arrival, Baby Kochamma wishes to engrain in the children the need to speak English, more in her desire for appearing upper class to the sophisticated British guests. This quote reiterates the view of English society being sophisticated and an ideal for which one always ought to strive.

Page 36. " For the Time Being they had no surname because Ammu was considering reverting back to her maiden name, though she said that choosing between her husband's name and her father's name didn't give a woman much of a choice. "

This quote speaks to Ammu's contempt for both of the men in her life. Escaping her father's tyrannical rulings, she runs straight into the arms of her drunken, physically abusive husband. Ending the marriage after the birth of her twins, and running back home to Ayemenem see's Ammu left in a state of no longer living; merely existing. She is scorned and seen as lower class as a result of her failed marriage, and her fatherless children are sometimes referred to as Untouchable. Ammu voices her contempt for the patriarchal running and ultimate ruining of her life in this quote.

For more information on Women's Rights in India, view the following webpage:

Women's Rights
Public DomainWomen's Rights - Credit: Anatoliy Omelchenko and Nataliia Lyzenko

Page 38. " She was twenty-seven that year, and in the pit of her stomach she carried the cold knowledge that for her, life had been lived. She had had one chance. She had made a mistake. She married the wrong man. "

One of the leading causes of shame in Indian culture is a failed marriage. For Ammu, it's a shadow that haunts her throughout the rest of her life. Not only does she marry the wrong man - a man her father disapproves of - but the marriage fails and it is she who assumes all the blame when she moves home to Ayemenem with her twins. Failed marriages result in Ammu and many other women, facing fierce social stigmatization and will find it hard, if not impossible, to remarry.

In India, arranged marriages were always - and in some cases still are - preferred. It is argued that the divorce rate in arranged marriages are much lower than in love marriages - although one hardly finds this surprising when the repercussions of a failed marriage are so severe. Unwed mothers, seperated, single, or unfaithful women are considered outcasts and they bring shame not only upon themselves, but upon their parents and are viewed as burdens.

Read more on the above at the following webpage:

Page 42. " Pappachi would not believe her story - not because he thought well of her husband, but simply because he didn't believe that an Englishman, any Englishman, would covet another man's life. "

This quote further develops the patriarchal rule that governs Ammu's life. Upon escaping the abusive and destructive relationship with her husband, she returns to Ayemenem, but instead of finding herself wrapped into the safety of her family's arms, her father completely disregards the story of what Ammu went through with her husband. To him, the mere thought that an Englishman could desire his daughter, could covet a woman in marriage, is unfathomable and it is to his devout faith in English society and the paradigms that rule it that he clings. His daughter is now nothing more than a source of shame and a burden upon him and his family.

Page 45. " Chiselled "