Nectar in a Sieve Discussion Questions

Last Updated: 19 Apr 2023
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  • What is the main character’s name in the book?

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A: Rukmani

  • What do you think could have happened if Ira was given the medicine the Rukmani had to bear children for her first husband?

A: She would have been severely neglected and abused, for he seems to be not a trustworthy man.

  • What is the underlying theme of the importance of fertility?

A: In Hindu society, fertility and the ability to take care of children decides how successful a woman will be in a marriage and whether the marriage will last. So, the central idea of fertility is nothing new to books about Hinduism.

  • Can you provide a definition of the title?

A: Nectar is the drink of the gods according to the Hindus because it’s savory and sweet. But when you put it in a sieve, the sweetness is lost and it’s no longer a good drink.

  • What is the symbolic meaning for the tannery?

A: The tannery is a symbol of urbanization and the outside world coming into their cultural bubble. The whole village is kind of a town luck in time.

  • Identify the problem with the caste system in the setting of the novel.

A: Especially in Rukmani’s case, sometimes a girl of a middle or low caste is forced to marry below her caste simply because her family is not financially ready.

  • What evidence is there to support that Rukmani’s parents are not financially stable?

A: Rukmani was the fourth daughter born to her parents, so her oldest sister had a lavish wedding lasting for days, which was very expensive. Consequentially, by the time Ruku got married, her wedding was short and plain.

  • What was the turning point in the novel?

A: The turning point was definitely when Nathan and Rukmani had to leave their land because the tannery bought it. This is so because everything important to Nathan was in that land, and everything goes downhill from there.

  • What was the author’s purpose for not specifying the exact time and place?

A: Markandaya prevents a lot of work and attention on the subject of location. The reader spends more time focused on the story, and the author does not have to worry about correct facts about the location and time period.

  • How are Nectar in a Sieve and Ishmael alike?

A: They both point out some of the flaws in humans and their society.

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