Cultural References In The God Of Small Things By Arundhati Roy

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The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy uses different cultural references that not everyone might understand. The cultural context necessary to understand what Roy writes about, makes it interesting to study how two different readers could interpret parts of The God of Small Things differently. This essay will focus on how a native Hindu practising Indian vs a western reader may interpret certain sections of the novel. Roy’s use of stylistic devices when talking about the cultural aspects, can affect how well the book is understood and received by audiences around the world.

Arundhati Roy refers to a thing that Indians do, that, without sufficient knowledge of Indian culture may seem confusing to an outsider. One of the places this difference
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This is another section where, differences in culture and its effect on understanding is prominent. ‘He collects his fee. He gets drunk. Or smokes a joint. Good Kerala grass… That night Karna was stoned (231)’ This would be considered a normal thing when looked at by a THPI, because in India dance is performed for Shiva the god of dance. Shiva only appreciates dances if the dancers are in the ‘zone’ which they reach through the use of weed (or alcohol). A western reader will not understand this and most likely assume it is very unprofessional of the dancers and that they don’t take their jobs seriously. Kathakali dancers are usually very poor or have a side job, this is because unless they’re paid great amounts it’s very hard to live off of kathakali dancing, ‘if he had had a fleet of make-up men waiting in the wings, an agent, a contract… what would he be? An imposter… Could he be Karna? Or would he be too safe inside his pod of wealth? (231)’. As a result dancers tend to show more raw emotion and not be afraid of whether it would be acceptable to perform. From a THPI’s eyes this, could be both a good and a bad thing. They may see it as hard-working men keeping up traditions and a way of storytelling so that old folktales don’t die out. However, it can also be a bad thing because the dances tell stories that have content that was and is considered taboo. A western reader, could see this either as India letting an old cultural event die out because they don’t invest in the upkeep of traditions. It can also be something confusing and foreign because the west and western media don’t have anything of the sort, thus becoming an irrelevant chapter to a western

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