- Topic #1
The novel offers a contrast between the acceptance of one’s fate, which is Rukmani’s philosophy, and Kenny’s battle against the status quo of poverty and sickness that pervades rural India. The author’s aim in providing this contrast is not to take sides in the argument, but to show how the very different life circumstances of each character make their very different philosophies possible.
I. Thesis Statement: Markandaya portrays two very different views of poverty, as embodied in Rukmani and Kenny, which are based not on one’s innate nature but on the circumstances of one’s life.
II. Rukmani’s philosophy: To be able to accept one’s fate is noble.
A. Religion: she is taught that suffering in silence is good for the soul.
B. Her position as a woman means that she has no freedom.
C. The power of the caste system means that there is a lack of equal rights for the people.
1. Her sons’ failure to elicit change at the tannery because the laws do not exist to protect them.
2. No laws exist to protect Rukmani and Nathan from being cast from their land.
D. Rukmani’s deep love for the land means that her greatest fear is that of starvation. But the land also provides her the security of place and hope for the future.
III. Kenny’s philosophy: To fight against poverty and elicit change for the better.
A. Kenny cannot understand Rukmani’s acceptance of starvation and poverty.
B. Rukmani points out that Kenny is not of their society, which is why he doesn’t understand their ways.
C. Kenny’s socioeconomic circumstances provide him with a much better means and freedom to pursue the eradication of poverty.
1. Kenny is male.
2. He is white and British.
3. He is educated.
(The entire section is 686 words.)