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Ruku thinks it is not very lucky for a man to marry above himself because "if he does he gets a wife who is no help to him whatsoever, only an ornament". Traditionally, the higher a woman is in social ranking, the less work she has to do herself in a household; she would have others to do it for her. Ruku speaks from her own experience, having married, in a sense, below herself. She did not at first appreciate that her husband, Nathan, had made their humble mud and thatch dwelling with his own hands, because she had always taken the luxury of her own comparatively fine home for granted.
Ruku realizes that she herself "was ignorant of the simplest things" when she got married, and being plain in appearance, was "no ornament either". She had to learn from the women in neighboring households "how to milk the goat, how to plant seed, how to churn butter from milk, and how to mull rice". Ruku sympathizes with her husband, who, having married "above himself", received very little help as he struggled daily to eke a living off the land from his new bride at first, and she marvels at "what patience...(he) must have had to put up with (her) uncomplainingly during those early days of (their) married lives...not one cross word or impatient look, and praise for whatever small success (she) achieved" (Chapter 1).
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