History House

Gabi Siewczynski and Hailey Hess

"To understand history," Chacko said, "we have to go inside and listen to what they're saying. And look at the books and the pictures on the wall. And smell the smells."

An important part of the story has to do with trying to find out their real family history and the history of their country. To understand their history it is revealed to the author through the explanation of this "history house". The history house has two different meanings in the book one metaphorical and one literal.

What is a metaphor?

A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.
A thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else, esp. something abstract.

There are countless common metaphors you may hear on a day to day basis. Although they are often just a funny expression they can be easily taken literally.

Keep your ______ peeled

Jumping for ______

I'm heart______

Its all Greek to _____

______ as a bat

“But we can’t go in,” Chacko explained, “because we’ve been locked out. And when we look in through the windows, all we see are shadows. And when we try and listen, all we hear is a whispering. And we cannot understand the whispering, because our minds have been invaded by a war. A war that we have won and lost. The very worst sort of war. A war that captures dreams and re-dreams them. A war that has made us adore our conquerors and despise ourselves.”

The family which they came from were completely Anglophiles who by definition means an admirer of England and things English.

("Anglo" = British, "phile" = love)

This reveals that their family somewhat lost sight of who they originally were and where they came from since they seemed to be fascinated with their conquerors. This was very common in India but it seems that it is a part of their past that they are somewhat ashamed of. Because their family was somewhat brainwashed by the British, in order to find out about their family's past they must go about it in another way since they have "been locked out". The metaphor used describes them as locked out because of a war they lost that made them despise themselves, this most likely refers to them having to work to find out about their history since their ancestors faced this obstacle with identifying themselves with the British.

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It is curious how sometimes the memory of death lives on for so much longer than the memory of the life that it purloined. Over the years, as the memory of Sophie Mol [...] slowly faded, the Loss of Sophie Mol grew robust and alive. (1.98)

Sophie Mol dies a traumatic death and as a result it is painfully remembered and nearly impossible to forget by her friends and family. Besides the fact that she was dear to them, her loved ones remember her because she died in the river by the history house. The history house is something that keeps having relations to their history and memories. Throughout the story it is a topic that always seems to come up. A big part of history and what you remember about your past has to do with what you choose to remember or forget. Her death was a sharp painful memory that stuck with them "for so much longer than the memory of the life" because of what the history house means to them.

Mufasa's Death The Lion King English

"He stepped onto the path that led through the swamp to the History House. He left no ripples in the water. No footprints on the shore. He held his mundu spread above his head to dry. The wind lifted it like a sail. He was suddenly happy.Things will get worse, he thought to himself. Then better. He was walking swiftly now, towards the Heart of Darkness. As lonely as a wolf. The God of Loss. The God of Small Things. Naked but for his nail varnish."

The history house was a symbol of darkness, which is shown in this quote. When walking up to it the characters are flooded by memories and emotions that overwhelm them and create this house to be a monster in their minds. However, we see here that there is hope in the future even when there is such an awful past and it is necessary to just keep walking in order to reach it. The History House is not all bad, but also can be a motivation for these characters to push forward to a better future.

"Pointed in the wrong direction, trapped outside their own history and unable to retrace their steps because their footprints had been swept away."

This quote explains how history is unexplainable. In most cases, we cannot retrace our steps to find how we got to where we were, leaving us trapped and forced to be complacent with our pasts. In the God of Small Things, all of the characters had events in their past that they could not explain to any one else, and in some cases, could not even explain to themselves. They found their histories to be murky places, ones that they did not want to journey back to, and if they did, would get lost in the mess of their pasts because their footprints had seemed to been erased.
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"The History House whose doors were locked and windows open... Where translucent lizards lived behind old paintings. Where dreams were captured and re-dreamed."

The twins believed that history was evil and that it was present to haunt them. They view the history house as a place of their childhood where events were so surreal they felt like a dream, one that would not be desirable to relive. The children think that history is a burden that only causes problems in one lives and a sneaky villain hiding behind the walls of this house across the river. This quote is a metaphor to history, it says that the doors are locked with windows open, just as these children can never actually relive the horrendous moments that occurred here that is locked in their past, however they can remember these events, just as the windows are open to this house, so is their remembrance of the past.

"To understand history," Chacko said, "we have to go inside and listen to what they're saying. And look at the books and the pictures on the wall. And smell the smells."

In order to undergo a change in your life or gain a lesson from a past event, you must face and evaluate the experiences in your history. You must try to understand why this event took place in your life and how it can help you in your future. Ignoring history is a waste, however, embracing it and learning from the past can help shape your future.


The God of Small Things is a story that deals with the issue of trying to find out about their true family history and reveals this to the reader through the History House metaphor. History plays a part in all of our lives and shapes who we are today.


"Metaphors.com - A Big List of Metaphors And What They Mean."Metaphors.com - A Big List of Metaphors And What They Mean. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 May 2013. <http://www.metaphors.com/>.

Roy, Arundati. "The God of Small Things Themes | GradeSaver." Study Guides & Essay Editing | GradeSaver. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 May 2013. <http://www.gradesaver.com/the-god-of-small-things/study-guide/major-themes/>.


  1. Do you think that if all of these major events in the characters' lives happened in different places instead of all near this one house that they would have had less of an impact in the story?
  2. What is a metaphor, symbol, or place that can represent your own past?
  3. How did the characters' histories play a part in previous novels we have read this year?
  4. What is a place in our country's past that symbolizes a major event in history?
  5. In society do you think that having a metaphorical representation of your past makes it a bigger part of who you are?
  6. Are there any obvious or hidden metaphors you can think of that were in any previous novels from this year?
  7. If at the end of each day, we forgot what happened the day before, what would our lives look like?