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In The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy explores the boundaries of conventional romantic relationships in Indian culture by highlighting two relationships that violently break the love laws, a set of laws that control who are allowed to be romantically involved. Roy uses these forbidden but loving relationships between Ammu and Velutha and Estha and Rahel, as a foil for the very unhealthy “traditional relationships” that we see such as that between Mammachi and Pappachi. Through doing this she is showing the reader that a set of laws can’t be responsible for something as subjective as love and that even “acceptable” relationships can be toxic. The relationships that break “The Love Laws” are the only truly successful love stories. The two relationships Roy chooses to demonstrate the fickleness of the love laws are very different violations of the laws. However, they both defy the picture of “normal” relationships that the society is comfortable with. Despite there not being specific written out rules regarding incest that we are aware of it’s clearly a moral violation of the spirit of the laws. Roy crafts a new understanding of what a happy/healthy relationship looks like for the reader. Instead of allowing the reader to fall into the widely held beliefs in this story, Roy pushes the audience to take a step back and consider what actually comprises a good relationship.The love laws govern all romantic relationships in the society. “The laws that lay down who should be loved, and how, and how much” (33). They decide who can love who, the amount of love an individual can express to another, how that love can grow over time, and the outward acceptability by society. Those who are older members of society are much more likely to adhere to the love laws than the younger generation. Mammachi and Pappachi’s relationship is a perfect example of this blind adherence. Pappachi is extremely abusive and constantly beats Mammachi. Chacko returns home during the summer to a shocking sight, “he found Pappachi beating Mammachi in the study. Chacko strode into the room, caught Pappachi’s vase-hand and twisted it around his back. ‘I never want this to happen again. Ever,'”(47) This incident scares Pappachi enough to stop beating Mammachi, but his emotional abuse doesn’t stop there. He finds other ways to put her down and humiliate her, he even goes so far to “create the impression that Mammachi neglected him,” (47) Despite the terrible way he treated her, when Pappachi dies Mammachi continues to show her complete devotion: “At Pappachi’s funeral, Mammachi cried and her contact lenses slid around in her eyes. Ammu told the twins that Mammachi was crying more because she was used to him than because she loved him,” (49). Mammachi was not truly in love with Pappachi, but, as said by Ammu, she was used to him. This terribly harmful relationship was the product of strict obedience to the love laws. Mammachi is a prime example of a woman who has allowed her life to be decided by history and what is found acceptable by the love laws.Ammu and Velutha break one of the most fundamental parts of the love laws by crossing the barrier between the touchable and untouchable cast. They are fully aware how forbidden their love is, so at first the relationship is frozen due to their deeply ingrained beliefs that adherence to the love laws is essential to be an acceptable member of society. Due to this strange in between state they find themselves in, the scene where Sophie Mol first arrives is the turning point in their relationship. “Velutha looked up and saw things that he hadn’t seen before. Things that had been out of bounds so far, obscured by history’s blinkers…For instance, he saw that Rahel’s mother was a woman…He saw too that he was not necessarily the only giver of gifts. That she had gifts to give him, too,” (168). Velutha is seeing Ammu in an whole new light. He has seen Ammu almost everyday for his whole life, but his image of her has always been blocked by the love laws. For the first time he looks beyond the barriers and sees Ammu as the beautiful woman she is and he falls in love. Even though he’s finally broken through that image of her, he understand that it is wrong, and so does she. “Ammu saw that he saw. She looked away. He did too. History’s fiends returned to claim them. To re-wrap them in its old, scarred pelt and drag them back to where they really lived. Where the Love Laws lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much,” (168). The past has such a strong hold on their emotions and personalities that they can’t escape the guilt of blatantly disregarding the laws they have followed for so long. Ammu and Velutha are under its influence and can’t allow themselves to act on the newly found feelings they have for each other.Soon after this encounter Ammu has a dream in which she falls in love with a mysterious stranger. She soon realizes that this “God of Loss, the God of Small Things,” (210) is Velutha. Ammu describes how the dream made her truly happy, showing that Ammu finds happiness in just the theory of being with Velutha. However, the barriers of society prevent them from allowing themselves to feel the full extent of their emotions towards each other. “They knew that it was all they could ask of each other. The only thing. Ever. They both knew that,” (320). Ammu and Velutha both know that the only kind of relationship they’ll be able to have is a secret sexual relationship. There’s no possibility that they could ever have a public and romantic relationship because of the shame that would be associated with their names. Although they refuse to break the rules entirely by being in a relationship, they decide that they are ok with bending the laws. Even through having a purely sexulay relationship Velutha and Ammu are going against history and what is perceived as normal. Roy decides to end the novel with an intimate scene between Ammu and Velutha rather than the stark and hopeless death of Sophie Mol and its aftermath. The word that she chooses to end her novel with is “Tomorrow,” (321). This inspires a feeling of hope. The feeling that a new day, a better day, is waiting. The Love Laws and history may be exercising some control, but with this vision of hope comes a vision that these limitations on “who should be loved, and how. And how much,” (33) will cease to exist. They will disappear and people, young and old, will be free to love whomever they so choose. For this reason, I think that the relationship between law and the values of mercy, compassion, and love should not exist. That, like the Love Laws and history’s influence, this relation between law and love must disappear altogether because law cannot dictate how one loves someone else.

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