Nectar in a Sieve | Study Guide

Kamala Markandaya

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Nectar in a Sieve | Part 1, Chapter 18 | Summary



At the next harvest the family does equally well. Rukmani grows enough vegetables to return to the market and sell for a profit. New shops have sprung up, which offer her better payment for her vegetables than Biswas ever did. When he sees her on the street, Biswas comments that Kennington has returned. He insinuates Rukmani should be pleased because of their scandalous relationship. Rukmani rushes to Kenny's home to welcome him back. She gives news of how poorly her family fared during the drought. Kenny, too, confesses that his wife has left him and his sons have abandoned him. (He has returned to India with money to build a new hospital.) Rukmani invites Kenny to visit her family again and to offer his congratulations to Irawaddy, who is now pregnant.


In this era of suffering, not even Western men like Kennington emerge unscathed. During the famine his family left him, so he dedicates his time and energy to building a new hospital. Little is known of Kenny's personal life, but his progressive character provides a perfect foil to Rukmani's acquiescent acceptance of fate. When Kenny suggests Rukmani is simply too ignorant to understand the complexities of his life, she replies, "Our ways are not your ways," which shuts down his judgment. It suggests Rukmani understands that her traditional values don't work for everyone.

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