What does the nectar in a sieve suggest about hope and despair?

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The title of this novel by Kamala Markandaya comes from a nineteenth-century poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which speaks specifically about hope. If you put nectar through a sieve, almost nothing will remain, but, because nectar is a liquid, traces will still cling to the implement. The novel, like the poem’s lines, reminds the reader that human beings must continue to hope in order to have strength to pursue their goal, or work with purpose.

Work without hope draws nectar in a sieve,
And hope without an object cannot live.

The novel’s characters endure a number of hardships; those who persevere are generally the ones who did not lose hope. In some cases, the hope relates only to their personal aspirations; more often, it applies to the character’s wishes for their loved ones. Rukmani, perhaps more than any...

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