Commentary on Chapter 1 in Nectar in a Sieve

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Commentary on opening pages „Nectar in a Sieve“
The novel starts off with the narrator(Rukmani) as an old woman reflecting on her past. She says that she is now at peace; however things have not always been this way. After briefly mentioning the people important to her, such as her now dead husband, her son and daughter, Puli and Kenny, she begins to tell the story of her life in a flashback. The novel is written in first person narrative. Apart from a few paragraphs, the novel is told in flashback as Rukmani recalls the events in her life. Her opening statement foreshadows the coming events such as the death of her husband “I think that my husband is with me again”, her adoption of Puli who suffers from a disease, and Kenny and her son Selvam working on building a hospital. The narrator also suggests that her life was full of suffering as she says “no fears now”. We learn a lot about Indian culture and traditions in this chapter, such as the fact that it is not unusual of a bride to be twelve and not knowing the groom. The parents choose the suitor and give a certain dowry, the amount depending on the status of the suitor. Ruku´s child innocence about the truth of things is shown when she thinks that due to her fathers position as headman, she will have a grand wedding. It is indicated that Ruku was still a child at her wedding, as she remembers all the unpleasant things, such as her nausea, her fear and sense of confusion. In this chapter we are also introduced to some village women which will play important parts in Ruku’s life later on. Kali and Janaki, two older and more experienced women, and Kunthi who is the same age as Ruku. Ruku’s notices that Kunthi is different and so her unease around her might foreshadow upcoming events. At the end of the chapter, Ruku talks about the large amounts of food and hope, which could also foreshadow the problems with food and hope later in the book.
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