Part One, Chapter 1: Questions and Answers

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 243

Study Questions
1. When Rukmani is a child, why does her mother worry about her future?

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2. When Rukmani is married off to Nathan, why do people say that the match is below her?

3. Where does the novel take place?

4. What is a dowry?

5. How does Rukmani describe her husband?

Answers
1. In Rukmani’s society, a woman’s security is based on the prosperity of her husband. However, for a woman to obtain a prosperous husband, her family must provide a significant dowry. Rukmani, as the fourth daughter, is left with no dowry after the marriages of her three older sisters, which means that Rukmani cannot hope for a prosperous match.

2. Rukmani is the daughter of a village headman, a position of high status. Nathan, who is a poor tenant farmer who does not own his land, is of a lower social status than Rukmani.

3. The novel opens in a poor village in India where a tannery factory is located. The exact time of the novel is not made clear.

4. A dowry is a sort of payment given by the family of a woman to the family of a man as part of the arrangement of their marriage. A larger dowry can help to get a more materially prosperous marriage for a woman.

5 Rukmani describes Nathan as a patient, gentle, and hardworking man. She delights in the fact that he sees beauty in her and praises her work and small accomplishments. He makes her happy.

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Part One, Chapter 2-4: Questions and Answers