Course Hero. "Nectar in a Sieve Study Guide." Course Hero. 6 Feb. 2018. Web. 20 Sep. 2020. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Nectar-in-a-Sieve/>.
Course Hero. (2018, February 6). Nectar in a Sieve Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved September 20, 2020, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Nectar-in-a-Sieve/
(Course Hero, 2018)
Course Hero. "Nectar in a Sieve Study Guide." February 6, 2018. Accessed September 20, 2020. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Nectar-in-a-Sieve/.
Course Hero, "Nectar in a Sieve Study Guide," February 6, 2018, accessed September 20, 2020, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Nectar-in-a-Sieve/.
Not able to afford a higher dowry, Rukmani's family believes she married below her station. An optimist from the start, Rukmani knows she will make the best of her situation because Nathan loves her.
Rukmani's disappointment over having a girl as her firstborn child highlights the gender preference and sexism in Hindu culture. Girls are seen as a liability because they cannot take over their father's work and require an expensive dowry to be married off. A boy, on the other hand, can inherit his father's work and earn the family a dowry from the wife he marries.
The Gods have other things to do: they cannot attend to the pleas of every supplicant.
Rukmani believes in the traditional Hindu gods yet recognizes that the plight of her neighbors is the same as her own. She forgives the gods for their inability to answer every prayer, maintaining her simple loyalty and forgiveness.
Nathan teaches Rukmani an important life lesson—she must adapt to change or be destroyed by it. When the tannery moves in, Rukmani cannot accept it, and it plays a large role in destroying her family.
Rukmani describes her relationship with nature: If a person honors and respects it, nature will provide what is needed. Her words exemplify the dependency farmers like Nathan have on nature, in all its fickleness, in order to survive.
Times will not be better for many months ... Why do you keep this ghastly silence?
Kennington feels frustrated that the impoverished peasants accept a fate of suffering and prayer. He sees Hindu traditions as ignorance and feels frustrated knowing he cannot save everyone through philanthropy alone—they must also work to save themselves.
Nathan accepts that Irawaddy's husband abandons her for being barren because he understands the cultural importance of children. Although welcoming Irawaddy back home puts further strain on the struggling family, Nathan feels no anger toward his son-in-law. The situation also serves to contrast Irawaddy's husband with her father. Nathan sticks by Rukmani during years of infertility while Irawaddy's husband does not.
You people will never learn. It is pitiful to see your foolishness.
For all his good works in India, Kennington feels frustrated that impoverished peasants like Rukmani would rather blindly accept their fate than demand better from their government. Exchanges like these highlight the culture clash between Eastern and Western traditions.
Rukmani chastises Irawaddy for mourning over her brother Raja's death. Rukmani has singular focus on the rest of her family's survival, knowing even shedding tears will weaken their ability to survive another day.
Want is our companion from birth to death, familiar as the seasons or the earth.
Rukmani responds to her perceived acquiescence—from Kennington's perspective—to poverty, explaining that it's all she has ever known and all her children will expect to know in their lifetimes. There's something familiar and almost comforting about it, which is why she never asks for more, as Kennington suggests she should do.
It is not enough to cry out, not sufficient to lay bare your woes and catalogue your needs.
Rukmani explains why she doesn't simply ask for better, as Kennington suggests she do. Rukmani recognizes that for a peasant to be saved, someone on the other side—the government or a benefactor—must be open to listening. From her experience, she sees that asking is never enough if the god or person who could help "close[s] their eyes and their ears."
The description of the injured bullock pulling the cart creates strong symbolism for hardworking peasants like Nathan and Rukmani. Both work diligently, ignoring their own suffering, until they die.
Ammu defiantly defends her child born out of wedlock by suggesting that, like Irawaddy and Kunthi, she did what she had to do to survive. Rukmani's acceptance of Ammu's child shows how her character has changed. She understands on a new level the desperation felt when on the brink of death.
Nathan's unwillingness to die in a land not his own displays a strong tradition in Hindu culture. Even knowing how expensive a return home would be and the financial hardship it would cause his children, Nathan feels determined to return to his roots.
Although Rukmani's statement references Puli's initial refusal to move back to the village with them, it also provides foreshadowing for Nathan's death. No matter how courageous and determined Nathan was to survive, there is a limit to human endurance.