Essay about Value of Suffering in Markandaya's Nectar in a Sieve

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Value of Suffering in Markandaya's Nectar in a Sieve

Kamala Markandaya's Nectar in a Sieve portrays its positive woman characters as ideal sufferers and nurturers. "[T]he cause of her suffering springs mainly from poverty and natural calamity. The women are from the rural sections of society. They are the daughters of the soil and have inherited age-old traditions which they do not question. Their courage lies in meek or at times cheerful way [sic] of facing poverty or calamity" [Meena Shirdwadkar, Image of Woman in the Indo-Anglian Novel (New Delhi: Sterling, 1979), 49].

Rukmani, the main character, and her daughter Ira display suffering hroughout the novel. Rukmani works hard and is devoted to her gentle husband. She endures
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When two officials from the tannery, where Raja was killed, come three days later to try to bully her into saying they have no responsibility, she tells them what they want to hear, thinking, "What compensation is there for death? I felt confused, I did not know what they were getting at."When the officials turn to leave, she realizes that one of the men feels "shame and misery" and tries to make him feel better: "'You should not care,' I said very softly to him alone. "It does not matter.'" Her goodness and inner strength prevent her from becoming hard and bitter.

Rukmani survives. No pain or injustice can cause her to rebel or seek revenge. In fact, Markandaya subverts Rukmani's only violent reaction: when she finally physically attacksa shadowy figure in her home, thinking it a woman who has previously robbed her family of precious rice during a famine, the woman turns out to be her daughter Ira. Yet although Rukmani's general submissiveness may appear a weakness to Western readers, from another point of view she has incredible strength. These two views, which represent conflicting Western and Eastern values, explicitly appear in Nectar in a Sieve Rukmani confronts the Western doctor, Kenny, who urges, "'you must cry out if you want help. It is no use whatsoever to suffer in silence. Who will succour the
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