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‘Pappachi’s Moth’ is an excerpt from the book ‘The God of Small Things’ written by Arundhati Roy. It revolves around Pappachi, the grandfather and his toxic masculinity in a patriarchal environment.
About the Author:
Suzanna Arundhati Roy (1961-) is a notable Indian writer. Her book ‘God of Small Things’ was the recipient of the Booker Prize in 1997. Other famous works of her include ‘Azaadi’, ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’ and ‘The Doctor and the Saint’.
The theme of this extract revolves around of patriarchy and how it affects women. Mammachi, the grandmother, is one such example where she faces cruelty from the hands of her husband.
The extract begins with how Mammachi ad begun to make pickles after her husband’s retirement. She seems to be quite famous for them too. Her husband, Pappachi, is seventeen years older than herself and is seen to be disgruntled by watching his wife being in her ‘prime’. He refuses to help her, displaying his toxic masculinity. He is extremely jealous of his wife, beating her every night to prove this point. He had also broken her violin in his anger.
Chako, Pappachi’s soon returns home from Oxford to spend his summer vacation. Realising that his father beats his mother regularly, he confronts him, angrily warning him not to repeat this henceforth. Resentful, Pappachi is seen to never hit or talk to his wife ever again, going lengths to tarnish her image too.
The story of the moth is an interesting one. Having researched on a moth and deciding that it was a rare species, he decides to pursue fame, only to be disappointed as it was deemed to be a regular kind of moth after all. Years later, after him being retired however, it was discovered to be a special species. Much to his chagrin, he was not given any credit for it. This is cited as the reason for his moody attitude and his cruel behavior, how he is seen to continue to try to live in the past until his death.
The scene ends with a mention of his funeral, how despite the cruelty she suffered, Mammachi still shed tears for her husband. This shows how women have internalized the patriarchal norms that have been forced on them, how they refuse to even acknowledge or act against it.