Kamala Markandaya's Nector and Seive

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  • Topic: Woman, India, Women in India
  • Pages : 15 (2705 words )
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  • Published : September 27, 2010
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The Indian Woman in Kamala Markandaya

For a long time, the woman has assumed a secondary role in the first generation of Indian English male writing such as R.K.Narayan, Raja Rao, Mulk Raj Anand. Indeed, R.K.Narayan's heroine, Rosie, in his novel 'The Guide' is viewed only in relation to the main protagonist, Raju and Raju's mother is confined to a very secondary position. It is only through the advent of the rise in fiction by Indian women writers that the woman has been able to assume a major role in the novel. Many of the Indian women novelists focus on women's issues; they have a woman's perspective on the world. This has allowed them to create their own world. It has made it possible for the women writers to set the conditions of existence, free from the direct interference of men.

Among the different Indian women writers who have made the female character their main preoccupation is Kamala Markandaya. In her novel 'Nectar in a Sieve', the central consciousness is that of a woman. This novel is characterized by a fine feminine sensibility. Kamala Markandaya is an expatriate writer, living in London. Born and educated in India her personality has developed within the Indian cultural ethos. Kamala Markandaya's acquaintance with Indian life is as authentic as her u

 

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By allowing Rukmani to be the narrator, Kamala Markandaya allows the Indian woman to show her own point of view. The first person narration encourages the reader to identify himself with the thought process of the Indian woman and to better understand her perspective. The highly intellectual responses of Rukmani on the evil effects of the industrialization and her philosophical broodings over the death of the old woman and Raja contribute to her strength as a character, and it is this strength of character that sustains the novel. Despite the unending troubles faced by Rukmani, the story does not end in despair. Rukmani emerges as the heroine of the novel because she surmounts everything that is aimed at weakening her integrity. Thus, by fulfilling cultural values, Rukmani and Ira find in their way of life not only suffering but also a sureness and inner peace.

Thus, although Rukmani's general submissiveness may appear a weakness to Western readers, from another point of view she has incredible strength. These two views represent conflicting Western and Eastern values. Rukmani, the Indian woman, sees suffering as good for the spirit and endurance as a necessity, because she cannot change her situation. Looking at Rukmani only from the Western point of view leads one to misunderstand her character and the values that sustain her. The Western viewpoint equally misjudges the ideal of the devoted wife. Meena Shirwadkar, who hopes that women will emerge as uninhibited, multifaceted individuals in literature, perhaps regards the Sita-Savitri image from too Western a standpoint. She sees the role as a purely weak one forced upon women, when in fact Hindu culture conceives of self-sacrifice as a form of power.

Thus, In India, with its strong bent for tradition, the woman is expected mainly to live for others than for herself because "others" controlled and moulded the social structure. Even woman in life and literature herself voluntarily surrendered to the ideal of self-sacrifice. Indian womanhood and all its facets are portrayed significantly in Kamala Markandaya's novel 'Nectar in a Sieve'.This image of the unsullied, selfless Indian woman is primary in this novel. Rukmani is presented as the perfect Indian woman. She fulfills the ideal suffering devotion, which Meera Shirdwadkar calls the Pativrata tradition in Image of Woman in Indo-Anglian Novel.

[The god] Rama's wife Sita exemplifies...
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