Which character in Nectar in a Sieve represents tradition in the face of change?

One could say that Rukmani in Nectar in a Sieve represents tradition in the face of change. We can see this through the way she adapts to the ancient rhythms of village life despite the many hardships she has to endure.

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Despite being different from the other women in the village due to her education, Rukmani is nonetheless determined to live her life in the traditional way. Though her married life with Nathan is filled with hardship and suffering, Rukmani nonetheless retains a traditional outlook on life. There's never a sense in which she yearns to escape from the "slow, calm beauty" of village life.

In fact, Rukmani shows herself to be positively hostile to anything that disrupts the rhythms of village life, anything that poses a threat to the age-old traditions. Such hostility is amply illustrated by her extreme animosity toward the establishment of a tannery, which, though it might bring work for some of the villagers—including two of her sons—also brings with it noise, pollution, and disruption to the normal patterns of village life.

The old ways may not have done much for Rukmani in many respects. There was poverty, exploitation, and suffering long before the tannery was built. But at least Rukmani and her husband were able to feel a connection to their land, no matter how hard their lives were. All that changed when they were forced from their land due to the tannery's expansion.

In effect, a hard life with a relative degree of certainty due to the persistence of the old traditions has been replaced by an even harder life without any certainty or tradition at all.

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