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Nectar in a Sieve | Study Guide

Kamala Markandaya

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Nectar in a Sieve | Part 1, Chapter 7 | Summary



Shortly after Irawaddy's wedding, monsoon rains destroy Nathan's rice fields. The rains wreak havoc on the family's mud hut, winds batter the vegetable garden, and lightning destroys their coconut tree. After the storm Rukmani takes some coins from her savings to buy supplies, but the shops in town that haven't been destroyed by the storms don't have enough supplies for the many villagers. Rukmani turns to Biswas, the oily moneylender, and spends both coins on two small bundles of rice, leaving no money to purchase supplies to repair the house. Rukmani sees Kennington on her way back through town as he stands in the street and rants angrily that starving villagers do not demand help from the government. Rukmani doesn't understand what he is talking about. When harvest arrives, crops are meager, but schools of fish have formed in the excess water in the field. They catch the fish with nets as the fish flow out of the swollen rice paddy, and they eat well that night.


Just as Rukmani feared would happen, the village cannot handle the rise in population once troubles arrive. Although the tannery population allowed Rukmani to earn more money for her produce, prices skyrocketed, which means she is actually making less than before. Now, when supplies are low, she pays exorbitant prices just to have something to eat. Although Rukmani's family has lost much in the storm, optimistic Rukmani quickly notes that at least they still have their house—others have fared even worse.

Once again, Kennington's presence highlights the weaknesses in Rukmani's more passive tradition. Rukmani believes the gods are responsible for her fate, so she has no one to blame for her loss. Kenny, however, cannot comprehend why impoverished peasants refuse to demand more from their government. The wealth gap and lack of education in India ensures that peasants will never rise in social standing and will forever be at the mercy of nature.

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