A highly important thing to remember alongside the incredibly personal and intimate vision of a Indian woman's life in this novel is the historical setting which forms a backdrop to the world of Rukmani. The novel is set after Indian independence in 1947, which finally represented a release from British colonial power and gave India a chance to be independent for the first time as a nation.
Part of the birthing of this new nation involved a constitution which stated that the caste system was to be abolished. This caste system had of course been a principal way of disempowering millions of Indians by limiting their opportunities and restricting their life chances.
India's first few years featured significant difficulties as its leaders remained neutral in the Cold War, which meant India found it very difficult to gain any famine relief when it suffered a catalogue of natural disasters in 1950.
If we examine some of the details of this historical background, we can see the way in which this backdrop is fused with the personal account. Rukmani struggles against her position in society and the lack of options and choices that both she and her children and husband enjoy. She also has to weather famine and droughts, working hard with all of her will to survive and to help her family to survive. In many ways, Rukmani's individual life story can stand for the first few years of the new India with all of its trials and tribulations.