While reading Blu’s Hanging by Lois-Ann Yamanaka, I was struck by the similarities between this particular text and The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. The God of Small Things is a work which centers around the decline of a formerly wealthy and affluent Indian family. On the brink of their decline, the narrative highlights the final years and events which act as catalysts to the final blow dealt to the family; the matriarch’s affair with a man in a caste much lower than that of the family’s. Much like Blu’s Hanging, this novel is viewed through the eyes of children and encompasses many similar aspects including, but not limited to, the sexual abuse of the son of the family.
Prominent throughout both novels is the sexual perversion displayed towards the young boys of both works. Blu of Blu’s Hanging is consistently stripped of his masculinity and exposed to perverse sexual encounters through molestation, exhibitionism/fondling, and finally, rape. Estha, the young boy of The God of Small Things, is molested by a man inside of the lobby of a movie theater. Although the situations vary, both boys cope with these situations similarly. For Blu, the act of absolution is ignorance, Estha’s reaction is like-wise. Both boys essentially blind themselves to the acts, neither openly acknowledging or vocalizing the injustices acted upon them. For Blu, the instances are only highlighted due to his sister witnessing them. Similarly, Estha’s sister is the only informant of his molestation. In both of these novels, the sexual abuse of the young male protagonists is central to the text and is made all the more apparent through the lack of acknowledgment by the victims themselves.