Rukmani describes her garden in vivid detail in the story. Why might she do this? What does this tell readers about how she feels about her garden, and about her character in general?

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Nectar in a Sieve is a novel written by Kamala Markandaya. It is narrated by Rukmani who tells us her life story through a series of flashbacks covering the most impactful parts of her life. Rukmani's story begins when, at twelve years old, she was given in marriage to a farmer named Nathan. The two eventually have one daughter and six sons. Much of the rest of the story covers their struggles living as farmers in poverty and the places that this life takes them.

Rukmani spends a lot of time telling us about her garden—and for good reason. She tends to her garden and helps it blossom through her hard work and dedication. Rukmani becomes very proud of her garden and the work that she put into it. Markandaya uses Rukmani's love for her garden as a metaphor for Rukmani's growth as a woman. Although she was scared when she first went to live with Nathan, Rukmani soon starts blossoming. The journey that Rukmani goes through with her garden is indicative of the journey she went through as a person. She uses the garden to show us how she has grown and what traits led to her growth.

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The garden in this story is very much symbolic. A significant reason behind the rise and fall of fortunes in this novel is the growth, or failure to grow, of crops. When times are good, it is because crops are thriving and there is no famine. When things fail to grow, everything else runs into trouble. The garden is connected to this.

When Rukmani reminisces about the early years of her marriage, she is remembering a time when things were flourishing: not only Rukmani and her love for her husband, but also her hopes. The title of the novel refers to Samuel Taylor Coleridge; the rest of the quote states that "hope without an object cannot live." In her thriving garden, we can see Rukmani's hopes flourishing. She has begun with nothing but a dirt patch—much as she has come to her marriage poor and without expectations—but through her love and hard work, she has succeeded in building something which is alive and vibrant. The garden is a visual representation of a time in Rukmani's life when she was able to foster and grow her hopes through the work of her own hands and her own commitment to her ideals and desires.

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In the story, Rukmani reminisces about her young married days. She describes her garden in vivid detail and recalls how proud her husband was of her industry. In describing her garden in detail, Rukmani illustrates her diligent and persevering nature.

When Rukmani married, she was a young girl of twelve. Then, fearful of what marriage would hold for her, Rukmani remembers how lonely she had felt. She had married an impoverished farmer and had been disappointed when she first saw her married home. It was merely a mud hut and small for its size. However, her...

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husband, Nathan, had been full of love for her. Rukmani remembers how grateful she was to have married a man who thought her beautiful despite her plain looks.

Under Nathan's loving care, Rukmani blossomed into a woman who enjoyed her nights of passion with her husband and who was thankful for the life she led. She describes her garden in great detail to illustrate how, under Nathan's encouragement, she was able to step beyond her comfort zone. Essentially, her garden became a symbol of her personal growth and of her contributions to their welfare. Her industry and tenacity were further exhibited through her ability to grow pumpkins, brinjals (eggplants), chilies, beans, and sweet potatoes for their own use. As she remembers, her garden was a point of pride for her, and it was partly made possible through Nathan's lavish praise and encouragement.

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