Nectar in a Sieve

Topics: Family, Family values, Nectar in a Sieve Pages: 5 (1893 words) Published: July 21, 2008
Nectar in a Sieve is a powerful, moving narrative highlighting the struggles and prosperity of one woman as she strives to hold tightly on to tradition in her rapidly shifting world. Written by Kamala Markandaya, the author was raised in a middle class family which gave her many opportunities for travel and a higher education. It is seen in the first moments of the novel that the author seems thrust herself into the main character, Rukmani, who leaves her well educated and wealthy upbringing to become a lowly farmer’s wife. Markandaya writes the accounts of Rukmani so convincingly that Nectar in a Sieve reads more like an autobiographical description of her life rather than a work of fiction. Like many great fiction writers, Markandaya uses her book as an art form. Reflecting on the novel, one could compare it to a great artist’s painting that is filled with a wide variety of themes, motifs and symbolism that are not always obvious at first glance but are incredibly rewarding when they are finally recognized. The most significant of the themes poised in the book are those of the importance of family and traditional Indian values. The roles of mothers, wives, sons and daughters are enforced and challenged throughout the story. The author also uses strong religious themes while peppering it with ideological encounters with other individuals and outside sources that make the main character both question and embrace her basic principles. The author weaves the story into an inspirational account of an enduring spirit that illustrates the hardships of a traditional Indian family trying to cope with the transformation of their way of life. She shows how with great effort and hard work a person can mold to their new surroundings while still being able to hang on to what they see as the most valuable elements in their lives. The basic family unit seems to be one of the, if not single, strongest theme within the book. Being the youngest child, Rukmani has always been with her family. From the very first account of her relationship with her own mother, father and brothers we see that she holds family to be foundation of her life. After she leaves her family to join her husband on his farm, she is sad but soon she sees him as her family and does what is expected of her as her role of wife. Family is so important to her that when she has trouble conceiving a child she breaks tradition to see a doctor, a foreigner, to assist her and soon after she gives birth to her daughter, Ira. Rukmani seems quite disappointed by having a daughter as sons are most sought after in their culture. Though family is still most important to her and her husband, Nathan, and they love their daughter as much as they would a son and raise her to be a proper woman. As their family grows and sons are born, Rukmani and Nathan are proud as the family works together to sow and harvest the rice that gives them their livelihood. They are proud to think that they will be able to carry on as a traditional family unit where their daughter will marry and their boys will take over the family farm and prosper. When her daughter is married and leaves with her husband to a village many miles away, Rukmani is not sad as that is what a traditional family is to do with a daughter, to make them into strong wives which Rukmani and Nathan believe they have done. Even as their sons leave to work in places they disapprove of, they still love them the same. The bond of family is very strong with these people. However, the changes happening in their country soon reflect what happens in their family and tradition is broken for more contemporary ideas that challenges even this strong bond of family. The tannery holds an underlying theme of change for the country and traditional values begin to alter almost as soon as it begins operation. People begin to turn away from conventional ideas of wealth to begin forming the idea that money is what gauges their happiness....
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