Character Analysis: Rahel

Nadia Esmail and Alley Mason

Overview

As a child, Rahel exists in a kind of harmony with Estha, her twin brother who is eighteen minutes her senior. Estha is serious and earnest; Rahel becomes preoccupied with things and can't seem to sit still. Rahel also has an incredibly active imagination – she seems to exist in a version of reality that's all her own.

Interactive Survey

How many of you have heard the phrase “He/she is my other half”?

What do you think that this phrase normally pertains to?

How is this idea utilized in the God of Small Things?

Quotes

“Promise me you’ll always love each other,” she’d say, as she drew her children to her. “Promise”, Estha and Rahel would say. Not finding words with which to tell her that there was no Each, no Other.

When you think about it, Estha and Rahel actually seem to have pretty different personalities in the novel – they're definitely not the same person. And yet they balance each other out; each of them is the extension of the other.

Two little ones, instead of one big one. Twin seals, slick with their mother's juices. Wrinkled with the effort of being born. Ammu checked them for deformities before she closed her eyes and slept. She counted four eyes, four ears, two mouths, two noses, twenty fingers and twenty perfect toe-nails. She didn't notice the single Siamese soul. (Roy 27)

Rahel and Estha’s literary identities are portrayed as two halves of one being, a fact that is crucial to the development (or lack thereof) of the two characters. When Rahel lost half of her “soul”, she lost the light and purpose in her eyes as Estha lost the desire to speak.


Rahel never wrote to him. There are things that you can't do – like writing letters to a part of yourself. To your feet or hair. Or heart. (Roy 62)

Rahel's inability to write to Estha shows us to what extent their identities are wrapped up in each other. Writing to him would be like writing to herself, so they lost contact for over 20 years.

Frightened eyes and a fountain looked back at Ammu. "D'you know what happens when you hurt people?" Ammu said. "When you hurt people, they begin to love you less. That's what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.

While Estha was preoccupied with dark worries such as the molestation he had suffered from the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man that disconnected him from his family, his less pessimistic counterpart becomes preoccupied and inquisitive with small matters such as a single quote from her mother. With a childlike, wondering imagination that wanders far and wide, she is much different from her two-egg twin, yet part of the same “soul”.

"Where's Estha Mon?" Velutha said, with an Ambassador (disguised as a Stick Insect disguised as an Airport Fairy) hanging down his back with her legs wrapped around his waist, blindfolding him with her sticky little hands. "I haven't seen him." (9.114)


As a child, Rahel took on a lot of different identities. She was supposed to act as an Ambassador of India to Sophie Mol. In Estha's eyes she is a skinny Stick Insect, and she takes on the identity of Airport Fairy when the family goes to Cochin to pick up Margaret and Sophie. She is secure yet wandering in her identities when she is a part of Estha, but is lost when Estha leaves.

Discussion Questions

1. How did Rahel compare to Estha in terms of similarities and differences?

2. How do Rahel and Estha’s conflicting personalities compare with Jack and Ralph’s conflicting personalities in Lord of the Flies?

3. The author of God Of Small Things compared Rahel’s relationship with Estha to Ammu’s union with Velutha (People from two castes in forbidden relations, and two-egged twins in forbidden relations). Did this decision to include Rahel and her brother enhance or damage the overall message against “who should be loved and how. And how much”?

4. There are strong arguments against laws banning love, from gay rights, to age differences, to incest. Where should the boundary for romantic love be drawn?

5. Did Rahel and Estha share romantic love? If not, what theme did this idea represent in the story?


6. Siblings play a formative influential role of informal behaviors like how to act at school or on the street... What kind of roles did Estha and Rahel play on each other?