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Date of Award

2020

Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Outka

Abstract

Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things and Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night are both novels intimately concerned with lives deemed small under prevailing power structures. The God of Small Things, published in 1997, tells the story of two twins in a Syrian Christian family in India as they approach and deal with the traumatic aftereffects of the murder of an Untouchable man named Velutha. Cereus Blooms at Night, published a year before Roy’s novel, is similarly concerned with trauma’s long-term effects. It tells the story of a woman named Mala, the granddaughter of Indian indentured servants on the fictional Caribbean island of Lantanacamara, as she faces the present reality and the later effects of being abandoned by her mother and sister and being sexually abused by her father. Within and connected to these human stories are the authors’ detailed depictions of the nonhuman lives within their works’ settings, both lives explicitly relevant to the characters’ experiences and those without direct bearing on them. This paper focuses on these lives, both human and nonhuman, that those in power deem irrelevant. It investigates the maltreatment the authors show these small lives suffering, the characters’ responses to their own conditions of smallness, and the ways the authors themselves resist and reimagine the force of dominant power structures through the forms of their novels.

Available for download on Monday, May 15, 2023

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