Ashley S. Dela Vina English Nectar in a Sieve Novel Analysis K(What I know about the novel)| W(What I want to know about the novel)| L(What I learn from the novel)| Nectar in a Sieve is an Indian novel written by Kamala Markandaya. It is about a girl who was married at a young age to a farmer. And faced a lot of challenges throughout her life. | I want to know how the protagonist of the story will live her life as a wife. Also the struggles she will face and the things she would do and sacrifice in order to overcome her hardships in life. Life is naturally hard and disastrous. We just have to learn how to face these disasters in order to succeed and survive. Giving up is not the solution to everything. Hope and perseverance will always stand against the odds in our lives. Rukmani shows the need to hold onto hope and the nectar of life despite all the overflowing tragedies. | The KWL Chart The novel started with the protagonist, Rukamani, narrating her own story in a first person point of view. Having a flashback of all the happenings in her life, Rukmani was able to analyze all the different events in her life.
Rukmani is an educated woman who is married to a farmer named Nathan at the age of twelve. Her marriage is one of the greatest times in her life and she is thankful that her husband is kind to her. Rukmani wishes to raise a happy and healthy family while Nathan wishes to buy their own land. They had their first child Ira, and then followed by five sons; Arjun, Thambi, Murugan, Raja and Selvam. In Rukmani’s later years she gave birth to Kuti. The major conflict in the novel was the fight between life and death for the poor people of the small village.
But when you go beneath the surface, you will see that it is not just a matter of life and death, but also a fight between the evil and the good that was challenged by the constant struggles that happened. The arrival of the tannery was a turning point in Rukmani’s life. Her restriction to Ira’s freedom from the tannery workers foreshadows the troubles her son will have with them. Two of her sons were dismissed at the tannery for leading the strike of workers after sometime of working there. She deals with losing her daughter because of her marriage that is too good to be true.
Her marriage is also a form of foreshadowing in the novel. It foreshadows the future trouble with her fertility and security. Her husband returned her to her family because she cannot bear a child. Rukmani tried seeking for Kenny’s help but it was too late because Ira’s husband already found another wife. Rukmani’s sixth son, Kuti, brought Ira out of depression. She took care of the child until drought came and the family suffered hunger again. Kunthi’s prostitution foreshadows Ira’s similar fate. Ira turned to prostitution in order to feed Kuti. Kenny’s comeback symbolises hope for them.
He returned from his long absence with the money he will use to put up a hospital. He offers help to Rukmani’s son, Selvam to be his assistant which Selvam quickly accepted. Kunthi’s blackmail attempt exposes Rukmani’s long held secret (her visit to Kenny’s clinic) and reveals that Nathan fathered Kunthi’s sons. Just as Nathan and Rukmani’s marriage survived Kunthi’s storm and became stronger, the family survives the drought and dares to hope once again. Ira had an albino child from prostitution but the family welcomed the child wholeheartedly despite what the villagers think.
Just when it seems that the family had overcome everything, the biggest of the challenges came. They were told that they have to leave their land immediately because it was already sold to the tannery. Their decision to go to the city marks as the climax because this will change the direction of their lives. In the city, they found Puli, an orphan who helped them look for their son. During their travel at the city, they found out that their son left his wife and child and moved to some other place. They were also robbed at the temple and Rukmani wanted to go back to their village.
When Nathan died at the temple in Rukmani’s arms, she went back home with Puli. Rukmani is a very strong woman. She has undergone so many struggles but yet, she doesn’t lose hope. The novel has different themes: hunger as threat to dignity, knowledge as power, and importance of fertility. Hunger and poverty is a powerful enemy to someone. People will do everything for fear of hunger, even sacrifice their dignity. Rukmani lost her sons because of hunger. Her elder sons seek new lives in other land; another son was killed for stealing, leaving Rukmani grieving.
For fear of hunger her daughter turned to prostitution. She herself almost killed someone for thinking the last piece of their rice was being taken. In the novel, hunger and poverty breeds people who has no dignity. People with knowledge hold power. The tannery won against the workers because they have more knowledge. For Rukmani, white men have power and so she turned to Kenny. Kunthi uses her knowledge of Rukmani and Nathan’s secrets to exercise evil power. Puli’s knowledge of the city helped Rukmani and Nathan to look for their son.
The commendable characters in the novel were the ones who apply their knowledge to good deeds. Importance of fertility is shown throughout the novel. Not just the fertility of women but also the fertility of the land. She sought the help of Kenny for fear of infertility and this caused Kunthi to blackmail her. Ira’s problems were also caused by her barrenness. She lost her husband for not being able to produce him a child. The fertility of the land is a symbol of life, it is so important to the villagers for when the land does not produce, the people will starve.
The bullocks were related to the peasants of the land. The bullocks highlight the harmony of nature. The bullocks, like the peasants, suffered from the injustice of overwork. They overwork for their owners to earn a living every day. The sari is a sorce of dignity, status, and pride. Rukmani’s sari on her wedding shows that her father was the headman and that she comes from important people. The Hinduism belief, dharma was present in the novel. It was shown in the novel when Rukmani sold the sari together with their bullocks and other possessions to pay for the land they live.
By selling her most prized possession, she reduces her attachment to worldly goods as an important step toward achieving the hindu virtue of dharma. Rukmani is a strong voice of the poor because she seaks with carity and truth. She gets stronger in every challenge because of her devotion to truth. With her, the Hindu belief that truth surpass all other moral values was shown in the novel. Sources: http://thebestnotes. com/booknotes/Nectar_Markandaya/Nectar_In_A_Sieve05. html http://www. sparknotes. com/lit/nectar/facts. html http://www. enotes. com/nectar-sieve