The extract from The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy is a descriptive extract with plenty of imagery about a “grand old house”, known as Ayemenem House, where a lady called Mammachi lives. The extract is a continuous description of the house in no particular order, rather a random one i.e. Arundhati describes the roof, the doors and then goes back up to the verandah. This is done in no particular order and hence may represent the path the speaker took as he or she was exploring the Ayemenem House. Arundhati vividly describes the different aspects of the house with minute details and exceptional imagery in order to portray the uniqueness of the house.
To begin with, the author’s first sentence in this extract tends to provide a general idea of house as she mentions that “it was a grand old house…but aloof-looking”. The use of the word ‘old’ indicates that the house has been there for a long period of time and may be a historical house related to Mammachi’s family history. Similarly, the word ‘aloof-looking’ creates an image of the house being remote and distant, thus reflecting on the age of the house. The reader is immediately directed into believing that the house is old-aged and therefore the rest of the extract will be dull and boring due to the vocabulary ‘old’ and ‘aloof-looking’ that was mentioned in the first line.
In the same way, the second line of the extract adds more clarification to the fact that the house is “aloof-looking” thus highlighting the unpleasantness of the house. The second sentence says “As though it had little to do with the people that lived in it.” This sentence heightens the fact that the house looks very unfriendly (‘aloof’) as ‘it ha little to do with the people that live in it”. This manner of beginning the extract tends to de-motivate the reader into reading the rest of it because the descriptions of the house already sound very dull and create dreary mood.
Furthermore, the second stanza changes the mood of the extract with more exciting images and descriptions. The first sentence of the paragraph is linked to the previous one whereby there are unpleasant images of the roof and their descriptions are unattractive, for instance when he says the “tiled roof had grown dark and mossy with age and rain.” The mossy image of the roof creates a nasty and repulsive image, thus reinforcing the oldness of the house. However further into the paragraph, there are interesting images of the wooden frames that were carved into the gables. The “patterns on the floor”, which indicate the shadows by the sun, took the shapes of “wolves, flowers and iguanas”. The shapes of the shadows change into fascinating ones “as the sun moves through the sky,” and therefore this creates a very exciting atmosphere and a mood to discover new shapes, as line 6 states that the “patterns… full of secrets.”
However, the last sentence of the paragraph is a very short one with, once again, unpleasant vocabulary and amusing meanings. The word “dying” creates an unusual contrast to the recent exciting and pleasant images in the paragraph. In addition to that, the short sentence tends to have very harsh ‘d’ and ‘p’ sounds that evoke an unpleasant image. Despite the fact that the word ‘dying’ is used to portray the images of the patterns disappearing as the sun sets, which tends to indicate a passage of time, alternative words could have been used, especially after the images of the wonderful shadow shapes. On the whole, although paragraph two tends to start and end in an unpleasant manner, it brings out the fact that no matter how old the house it, there are intriguing aspects of it.
The author then describes the doors of the house and relates the descriptions to real-life situations of how “ladies keep the bottom half closed…and bargain with visiting vendors…” This allows the readers to visualize the size of the doors and how they are used by the people. Furthermore, Roy creates a comical sense in the following sentence, whereby she says that the ladies would buy things “with their breasts covered and their bottoms bare.” Similarly, the repetition of the word ‘technically’ tends to evoke a sense of sarcasm because of the stunning ideas the women of those days had.
In addition to the description of the doors, the author uses plenty of minute details in describing the veranda. Primarily, the first sentence in paragraph four states, “Nine steep steps led from the driveway…,” in this case, the steps could easily be referred to as simply ‘steps’ but the author decided to add more details to it and mentioned the number and gradient of the steps. The author then goes on and describes how the veranda is elevated, giving it a look of ‘a stage’ and she emphasizes this by mentioning that it looks so much like a stage that anything that took place on the veranda looked like a ‘performance’. This portrays the beauty of the veranda and how unique it is and looks, especially considering the fact that it is “cool even at midday, when the sun was at its scorching best.” (Line 16)
Furthermore in the same paragraph, the author describes Baby Kochamma’s ornamental garden below the veranda and how it slopes down towards the slight hill. Once again, vivid descriptions are used, for instance the reader is able to know what sort of garden it is and the fact that it is for Baby Kochamma, who might be a significant character that adores gardens. Altogether, these descriptions not only allow the reader to visualize the different aspects of the house, but it also allows the reader to interpret the fact that the house is old and yet very beautiful, thus creating a very calm and peaceful atmosphere, particularly through the description of the unique ‘ornamental garden’.
In the seventh paragraph, more vivid descriptions are evident which provide more information about the relationships and people that live in the house. The author describes Mammachi as “stuffed, button-eyed bison head” which also creates a sense of humor as the reader pictures how she looks like. Similarly, information of where exactly Mammachi is, is provided through the descriptions, whereby the reader is able to know that she is sitted in a “low wicker chair at a wicker table on which stood a glass vase with a single stem of purple orchids curving from it.” Also, she has portraits of her in-laws on either sides of her. This paragraph is filled with descriptions, for instance the ‘wicker’ table and chair, the glass vase and the single-stemmed purple orchids. All these adjectives are very pleasant and provide more minute detail about the locations of Mammachi.
Finally, the overall structure of the extract is quite regular, with short paragraphs of about one to four lines. The paragraphs tend to have a mixture of simple, compound and complex sentences, however the majority are long, complex sentences enriched with punctuations such as commas and semi-colons. In addition to that, there are also very short paragraphs and sentences towards the end of the extract, for instance the last line has four to six worded sentences, which tend to emphasize the heat of the afternoon. In the same way, the personification of the air ‘waiting’ highlights the fact that it was very hot and the air was waiting to come out and cool things down, but it was too hot for the air to move.
To conclude, the extract from The God of Small Things written by Arundhati Roy creates a very strong image of a big old house and the vocabulary used to describe it is very strong and informative. The body of the extract creates a big contrast with the beginning because it starts off with a very dull and unpleasant atmosphere with unattractive descriptions of the house and it eventually turns out into a very beautiful and calm house. In this case the reader tends to raise questions on whether the descriptions of the house are real and whether they actually apply to the house, considering the fact that the author started off by describing it as ‘old’, ‘aloof-looking’, ‘dark’ and ‘mossy’. Alternatively, the speaker might have such a deep personal connection with the house that the unpleasant things are viewed as pleasant by the speaker. Overall, the speaker might be evoking the impression of ‘old being gold’.