Nectar in a Sieve | Study Guide

Kamala Markandaya

Get the eBook on Amazon to study offline.

Buy on Amazon Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Nectar in a Sieve Study Guide." Course Hero. 6 Feb. 2018. Web. 23 Sep. 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2018, February 6). Nectar in a Sieve Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved September 23, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2018)



Course Hero. "Nectar in a Sieve Study Guide." February 6, 2018. Accessed September 23, 2023.


Course Hero, "Nectar in a Sieve Study Guide," February 6, 2018, accessed September 23, 2023,

Nectar in a Sieve | Part 1, Chapter 13 | Summary



This year, instead of the bountiful rice harvest Nathan and Rukmani hope for, the rains fail. Rukmani weeps and begs the heavens to produce rain, but none comes. The green fields brown and wither. The earth dries and cracks. The landlord's collector, Sivaji, demands rent, but with nothing to harvest there is nothing to sell. The collector tells Nathan he will give him a few weeks to come up with half the money owed, otherwise the landlord will reclaim the land. Rukmani sorts through their few belongings, preparing to sell them. She travels to the moneylender, Biswas, and argues with him over the price he offers to pay for her possessions. Everyone, he says, has been selling their belongings and there are no other buyers. He says Rukmani should be happy with what he offers. After a long back and forth, they agree on 75 rupees (roughly $15). When she returns home she learns Nathan has sold their bullocks and is determined to sell their seed as well. She begs him not to sell the seed, otherwise they won't be able to plant for the next harvest, but he doesn't feel they have a choice. In the end they don't have enough money to pay the landlord, but the collector says he will wait. The drought continues, and then, at last, the rains come but it is too late.


The drought is far worse than the severe monsoon the family endured years ago. Rukmani sells everything she owns not deemed necessary for survival. Notably, Rukmani sells her red sari. The sari is Rukmani's most prized possession—beautiful and expensive, the sari represents the upper-caste life she came from as the daughter of a headman. She allows Irawaddy to wear the sari on her wedding day but keeps it for herself to wear at her son's weddings someday, so as not to "shame" them. Rukmani clings to the sari as a symbol of her dignity. When forced to sell the sari to pay the land debt, Rukmani loses part of herself. She takes one step closer to desperation. She has not yet lost all her hope—she pleads with Nathan to retain enough seed to plant for the next harvest. Although the pennies are important now, Rukmani recognizes the seed's value in securing their future.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Nectar in a Sieve? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!