- Make a family tree or a chart listing all the characters and showing how they are related.
- How is Velutha unusual for a dalit, and why is this so dangerous for him?
- What is Estha's main characteristic as an adult? How does this compare to his nature as a child?
- What is Baby Kochamma's role in the death of Velutha? What motivated her to do what she did?
- How does Baby Kochamma first develop her hatred of Velutha?
- Why does Chacko invite his ex-wife to visit him in India? What does this say about his character?
- Why is Estha sent out of the theater by his mother, resulting in his molestation? How is this a telling detail that reveals what Estha might have been like if tragedy had not struck him?
- The triple tragedies of Sophie Mol's death, the twins' role in Velutha's arrest and death, and Velutha's death itself are repeatedly foreshadowed and then all happen suddenly; does Roy's technique build suspense or work against the normal progression of a story?
- What kind of society does a caste system support?
- What do the Communists represent in the novel? What are they supposed to do, and what are they really doing?
- What is the function of the past in this novel—a tool for making decisions in the present, or a barrier to moving forward in life?
- What does television represent in the story? When and how does it most fully affect people?
Discussion Prompts to Encourage Critical Thinking
- What does the future hold for Rahel? For Estha? What could either of them do to re-engage with life?
- What are the parallels between Baby Kochamma and Ammu?
- Why does Rahel go to see the Kathakali dancers? What do they symbolize?
- What does the History House symbolize or represent to India at large, to Velutha, and to the twins?
- How is the family's own house portrayed?
- If Ammu and Velutha had been able to continue their secret relationship, what would the possible outcomes have been? Keep in mind that they would have been rejected by both his caste and hers. What are the logical outcomes of such a situation?