Traversing beyond postcolonial identity: symptomatic selfannihilation in The God of Small Things as a symbolic failure in Roy’s politics
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This study claims that the roots of the symptomatic ‘madness’ found in the Syrian-Christian Kottayam family in The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy traverse beyond the general postcolonial identity crisis. It investigates the selfdestructive element hidden within this family that obviously had an impact on Ammu, Chako, Baby Kochamma and others in developing some form of self-annihilation, which cannot be simply attributed to postcolonial identity politics. The authors find that the ‘dual identity’ (symbiosis) (Bhabha, 1994), the ‘disconnectivity’ (Jameson, 1991) and ‘death as a pathway to rebirth’ (Holbrook, 1971) experienced by the Kottayam family force the authors’ reading of the novel to go beyond postcolonial discourse and exploit Žižekian psychoanalytic tools. The death drive and self-annihilation that run within the family members, which distance them from the rest of the contemporary Kerala society, demand a broad universal analysis of the text. The only rebel in The God of Small Things, Ammu, who ‘radically annihilated her existence’ by loving an untouchable, ends up in a tragic Žižekian misrecognition. Her act is, therefore, an attempt of escapism from the false deadlock of stagnating identity politics that made her life quite miserable and unliberating. Though there are substantial features of discursive success throughout the novel, Roy’s own failure and inability to contextualise India in a universal emancipatory stream is widely evidenced by the symbolic deaths in her ‘imaginary’ (yet empirical) family.
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