The twins' mother - who suffers from the patriarchal mindset of her father, and later her husband whom she divorces only to be viewed as a Veshya. She drifts through life until she finds momentary happiness with Velutha, before it all ends in dispair..
An actual town in the Southern State of Kerala, spelt "Aymanam." Both the setting for the novel "The God of Small Things" and the place where Arundhati Roy spent her childhood.
Baby Kochamma
The twins Great Aunt whose only passion is her childhood love for an Irish Monk who cannot return her advances. Disillusioned, she converts to Catholicism and enters into a Convent. A year later her father goes to fetch her as she expressed unhappiness in her letters, but she refuses to reconvert and remains a Catholic for the rest of her life. As a result of these events, it can be argued that she lives her life in bitterness and resents the twins, also playing a helping hand in Velutha's eventual death.
Caste System
A social system found in India that grades society based on castes/classes. In India, this class system is hereditary also stratified according to ritual purity by Hindu standards. In the caste system, Brahmans are the highest caste and the Untouchables are the lowest.
Ammu's older brother, the twins' uncle and the father of Sophie Mol. After his divorce to Sophie Mol's mother he remains in India and struggles to keep up the family's pickle business before eventually emigrating to Canada.
A major city also found in the Southern State of Kerala, which is home to the region's major airport. It is the setting for the twins' first introduction to Sophie Mol and her mother Margaret Kochamma. Cochin is viewed as a tourist city, thus its history has been put aside in favour of pleasing the foreigners who visit it: historical rooms are replaced with lobbies and dining rooms, and traditional Indian cultural acts such as the Kathakali performances are adapted and become solely performed in the entertainment of tourists.
A member and follower of Communism, exemplified by the philosophy of Karl Marx, and politics of Lenin. Communism is a sociopolitical movement that aims for a classless and stateless society structured upon common ownership of the means of production; free access to articles of consumption, and the end of wage labour and private property by the means of production and real estate.
A fellow member of the Communist Party.
An offensive Asian slang word for an unskilled labourer.
Esthappen Yako (Estha)
A sensitive, quiet boy - Rahel's twin brother, and her closest ally. Whilst they're not identical, it is clear from the beginning that the bond between them is sacred and unbreakable.
History House
An abandoned house across the river from the Ayemenem house in which Velutha lives with Vellya Paapen and Kuttappen. The twins becomes obsessed with the History House and use the area surrounding it as their safe-haven from various troubles in the Ayemenem house.
A Traditional art form native to Kerala. It combines opera, dance, and "full-body acting." Usually several hours long, in Cochin the performances are cut short and abridged to please the foreigner's patience and taste.
A low, Untouchable caste - most usually of fishermen. Velutha and his family are Paravans.
Rahel Kochamma
A quiet girl with an inner emptiness that she carries with her into adulthood and which eventually causes the end of her only marriage to a man who finds her eyes alarming whilst they make love. She is a keen observer of the world around her and the people within it.
Sophie Mol
Daughter of Margaret Kochamma and Chacko. She visits India and forms a bond with the twins. Of her, Rahel states on page 16: "...Sophie Mol (the seeker of small wisdoms: where do birds go to die? Why don't dead ones fall from the sky? The harbinger of harsh reality: You're both whole wogs and I'm a half one. The guru of gore: I've seen a man in an accident with his eyeball swinging on the end of a nerve. Like a yo-yo.) was always there." Her death changes the courses of the lives around her forever.
The Grotesque
A style/art in which things are distorted and made bizarre. It can incorporate the supernatural, violence, the unmentionable and sexuality.
The lowest caste in the system. They are considered - most especially by the members of the higher castes. Roy attempts to incorporate the meaning of Untouchable with a sense of "irreproachable," suggesting that that which is Untouchable may in fact be sacred.
The handyman who helps out around the Ayemenem household. As an Untouchable, he is unable to even touch Ammu, and so it becomes clear as to the utter disgust with which the people view his love affair with her. Ironically enough, it is via the touch of this Untouchable that Ammu is finally granted a glimpse of happiness and contentment.
Ritualistic Prostitute in India.