The lesson Pappachi’s Moth is an extract from Arundhati Roy’s first novel “The God Of Small Things” which won the Bookers Prize in 1997. Pappachi ( grandfather) is an imperial entomologist prior to his retirement. His name is Shri Benaan John Ipe. His wife Shoshamma Ipe is referred to as Mammachi ( grandmother). Amma and Chacko are their children. Papachi has been bitter since his discovery of new moth species dismissed and subsequently credited to someone else. That incident is strongly held responsible for his black mood and irritable temper. His guise of being a perfect husband and father hides his abusive tendencies towards his family, especially Mammachi . One night while Pappachi is beating his wife, Chacko, a Rhodes scholar from Oxford University stops him and warns him never to repeat such mean things again. From then on, till his death, Pappachi never his nor speaks to Mammachi again This lesson subtly raises important issues that plague our milieu.
Textbook Question of Pappachi’s Moth
1. Write the character Sketches of Pappachi and Mammachi.
I. Character Sketch of Pappachi
Pappachi is Mammachi’s husband and the father of Ammu and Chacko. He has served in the Department of Entomology as an Imperial Entomologist. His biggest triumph in life becomes his biggest failure when he discovers a rare breed of moth, but he does not get credit or even naming rights for his discovery. Later, when he comes to know that his discovery has been recognized but named after the acting director of the department he is shocked. This event is held responsible for his black mood and temper.
Pappachi is a harsh, jealous man who beats Mammachi regularly. He does not like Mammachi’s work of making pickles. He thinks that this menial job to be done by his wife is against the dignity of a high ranking ex-government official.
Pappachi is a rude and snobbish person. He wears beautiful dresses in order to hide his age and infirmity. He buys a car and does not allow anybody to sit inside it. He pretends to be a royal person. He dies before the action of the novel really kicks off, so he’s referred mostly as a memory.
Character sketch of Pappachi.
Shri Benaan John lpe (referred to as Pappachi which means grandfather) is a retired Entomologist. He is an unemotional and jealous person. He is very unfair and indifferent towards his family especially his wife, Mammachi. He is highly displeased by the success of his wife, which she gains because of her talent of pickle and jam making. He has the feeling of humiliation to see his
wife in her prime when he is in his ripe age. When his son, Chacko stops him from beating his wife mercilessly, he feels it hurting his ego and abandons his wife. He does not talk to her or touch her throughout her life. He lacks the love and care of a husband and does not bear anything against his personality.
He dresses in a clean tailored three-piece suit. He buys a Plymouth (car) from an Englishman and drives it very proudly to impress upon others about his Anglophilic nature. He uses a high-class mahogany chair to sit but breaks it when Chacko stops him from harassing Mammachi. He discovers an unusual kind of moth and for six months, he struggles for its nomenclature. But to his disappointment, he retires and after twelve years, the Moth is considered unusual and new and is named after the acting director of Entomology. He dies as a result of massive heart attack and his death is grieved most by his wife, Mammachi.
II. Character Sketch of Mammachi
Mammachi is an important character in the story “Pappach’s Moth” taken from Arundhati’s famous novel ” The God of Small Things”.She is the wife of Pappachi and has twin children namely Chacko and Ammu. Mammachi is young and looks beautiful and in full youth. She is seventeen years younger than her husband. She is a hard worker but a primitive type of Indian woman. She starts Paradise Pickles and Preserves and builds it into a successful business before turning it over to Chacko.
Some people believe “Mammachi is sort of your typical cranky lady seems very stubborn and set in her beliefs and habits. Her notion of how this world works is to a large set in stone. She is prejudiced against the lower classes, always wants to make herself look important, and hates Margaret Kochamma with a passion.” But she is not an arrogant woman. She is humble. She belongs to male dominating society. She is a victim of male dominance. She reflects Indian traditional woman. Her husband harshly beats her every night but she does not complain or disclose it to anyone. She is a loyal wife. At Pappachi’s funeral, she cries and her contact lenses slide around at her eyes. In the end, she is nearly blind and plays a mean violin.
Character sketch of Mammachi.
Soshamma (referred to as Mammachi) is the wife of the renowned Entomologist, Shri Benaan lpe. She is an elderly lady but seventeen years younger than her husband, Pappachi. She is naturally inculcated with many talents. She is very good at making pickles and jams, which sell very quickly at a particular fair. She gets more orders and thus becomes employed particularly after her husband’s retirement. She is very good at playing the violin and takes some lessons of playing it during her stay in Vienna. She is a hard-working lady and full of patience. She tolerates the beatings of her husband without a wink of a complaint. These beatings are only stopped when her son, Chacko comes back from Oxford and stops his father from beating Mammachi. She is suffering from conical corneas and wears contact lenses to visualize things. She does not get the support of her husband throughout her life but still, she keeps on supervising and managing everything alone and does not feel or let anyone else feel bad about her husband and never lets him down.
2.” I never want this to happen again,” he told his father, ‘Ever’.Who says it and why?
Answer. These are the words of Chacko. One day when Chacko is at home for summer vacation from Oxford, he finds his father beating Mammachi beating mercilessly with a flower vase in the study. The Chacko on seeing this gets angry and catches Pappachi ‘s hand and twists it around his back and warns him that he should never repeat such a mean thing again.
Ans: Pappachi’s son Chacko says these words to him. He comes to home for summer vacation from Oxford and finds his father beating the mother in a room. He catches his hand, twists it around his back and warns him never to do it again.
3. ‘Amma told the twins that Mammachi was crying more because to him than because she loved him’.In the light of the statement of Mammachi’s daughter, comment on the relationship between Mammachi and Pappachi.
Answer: Mammachi and Pappachi do not have good relationship particularly after Pappachi retires. Pappachi burns on his wife’s work of making pickles in spite of the fact that her business flourishes. He strangely thinks that it is against the dignity of a high ranking ex-government official. Above all, he brutally beats her every night with a flower vase. But Mammachi becomes used to his beatings. She never complains about his ill-treatment with her. She remains a loyal and loving wife. That is why she cries on her husbands funeral forgets all that he has done with her.
Ans: The relationship between Pappachi and Mammachi is a physical one. Mammachi and Pappachi’s relationship does not have any element of care, love and understanding. Their relationship has jealousies, harassment and male supremacy in abundance. Mammachi can be considered as a tolerant lady and a silent worker. She is talented and patient. She loves and respects her husband to a great extent but she is more habitual of him. She is used to his abusive treatment and perhaps considers it her fate. On the contrary, Pappachi is an unemotional person who is least bothered about the respect and sentiments of his family and particularly his wife, Mammachi. He is filled with envy to see his wife progressing, which Is a great flaw in their relationship. He is not helpful and cannot bear Mammachi’s acclamation in the world of employment. So, we can say that their relationship is a physical one.
4. How does Mammachi stand out as an independent resilient woman in the text?
Answer: Mammachi stands out as an independent resilient woman in the text. She is a woman who is always beaten by her egoistic husband. He never supports her and is jealous of her talent and any sort of attention she receives. Probably it is so because of the frustration pent up inside his heart for not receiving the deserved fame of his discovery of the moth he wishes to be named after him. However, her pickle recipe is a famous one and she is called by the Kottayam Bible Society to make some of her famous banana jam and tender mango pickle for an upcoming fair. It sold quickly and receives more orders than she can cope with. Thrilled with her success, Mammachi decides to persist with the pickles and jam and is kept busy for the whole year. Gradually she sets up a Paradise Pickles and Preserves and makes it a success. She always remains busy bee in her work.
Ans: Mammachi proves to be a praiseworthy character of the story. She prepares delicious pickles and jams and becomes successful in this work. Soon, she receives more orders and thus becomes employed and independent. She is also a resilient lady because she adapts herself to the irritating and jealous nature of her husband. She tolerates the tyranny of her husband like a silent tolerant and never complains
5. Pick out the elements of irony in the lesson.
Answer: Irony means the strange and amusing aspect of a situation that is opposite or very different from what you expect. The main elements of irony in the lesson are as follows:
1. Pappachi discovers a rare breed of moth, but he does not get credit or even naming rights for his discovery. He has not hopped that his discovery will be ignored. So this is irony.
2. Later, when he comes to know that his discovery has been recognized but named after the acting director of the department, he is shocked. He has never expected so but ironically it happened.
3. When Mammachi starts pickle making. Her business flourishes tremendously. She gets busy all around the year but her husband unexpectedly dislikes her job.
4. Pappachi beats her wife every night but she never complains or discloses it to anyone. Isn’t it ironical?
5. At Pappachi’s funeral, Mammachi cries hard in spite that her husband used to beat her when he was alive.
Ans: Irony is a figure of speech which consists of a statement that appears to be praise but is really condemnation.
The various elements of irony in the lesson are:-
1) He was seventeen years older than Mammachi and realized with a shock that he was an old man when his wife was still in her prime.
2) When Chacko scolds him, Pappachi does not touch her for the rest of his life.
3) He bought the sky blue Plymouth from an old Englishman in Munnar. The Plymouth was Pappachi’s revenge.
4) His moth was named after the Acting Director of the Department of Entomology a junior officer whom Pappachi had always disliked.
5) Mammachi was crying more because she was used to him than she loved him.
6) Ammu said that human beings were creatures of habit, and it was amazing the kind of things they could get used to.
7) ln the evenings, when he knew visitors were expected, he would sit on the verandah and sew buttons that weren’t missing onto his shirts.
8) On his dressing table, next to the cologne and silver hairbrush, he kept a picture of himself as a young man, with his hair slicked down.
6. Identify instances of humour in the story.
Answer: Humour is that figure of speech that amuses us and makes us laugh. Some of the humorous elements we find in the story are given as under:
1. Pappachi feels jealous of her husband because she is seventeen years younger than him and looks to be in full youth.
2. Pappachi keeps a photograph of his youth on the table to remember the days when he was young. This is really amusing.3. Pappas’s daily moving around the compound watching the mounds of red chilies, freshly powdered turmeric and Mammachi’s doing her work makes us laugh badly.
4. Pappachi never allows Mammach and anyone in the family to use his car or even to sit inside it. The Plymouth was Pappachi’s revenge.
5. Pappachi always likes to create the impression that Mammachi neglects him.
He sits on the verandah and sews buttons to show the people that he is ignored.
Ans: The various instances of humour in the story are:-
1) Pappachi slouched around the compound in his immaculately tailored suit, weaving sullen circles around the mounds of red chillies and meekly powdered yellow turmeric.
2) He became a familiar sight in Ayemenem, coasting importantly down the narrow road in his wide car, looking outwardly elegant but sweating freely inside his woollen suits.
3) Pappachi’ss Moth was held responsible for his black moods and sudden bouts of temper.
Q7. Write a short paragraph to show that the lesson Is a reflection of male chauvinism
Ans: Gender discrimination is a major social evil in our society. Man has always been dominant over woman from ages. He has never treated woman equal to his status. She has always been a mere slave to him. She is for him the ‘other sex’. He abuses her in every respect. She is exploited by a man physically, sexually, morally, economically and also politically. She has never been given equal rights. Even her fundamental rights have been snatched from her. She is used by man as a plaything to satisfy his lust. She is treated as the weaker sex.
The lesson is a perfect example of male chauvinism. Gender discrimination is the main theme of the lesson. Mammachi is an oppressed woman who is daily beaten by her husband. She is fed up with the regular beating of her cruel husband. Pappachi gives no respect to her. He never speaks a single word of love to her.
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