Part One, Chapter 1: Questions and Answers
1. When Rukmani is a child, why does her mother worry about her future?
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?
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.