Nectar in a Sieve Part One, Chapter 2-4: Questions and Answers

Kamala Markandaya

Part One, Chapter 2-4: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why are Rukmani and Nathan disappointed when their first child is a girl?

2. Who is Kenny?

3. Why does Rukmani hide her fertility treatments from her husband?

4. How does the opening of the tannery affect the villagers?

5. Why does Rukmani decide to sell her vegetables to Biswas instead of Old Granny? And how does this make her feel?

Answers
1. Rukmani and Nathan are initially disappointed that their firstborn child is a girl because a female child, who requires an expensive dowry and eventually leaves the family to join her husband, is less desirable than a son, who can inherit the father’s livelihood and can care for his parents in their old age.

2. Kenny is a white doctor, presumably British, who befriends Rukmani and provides her with fertility treatments.

3. Rukmani is afraid that Nathan will be angry with her for allowing herself to be examined by a white, male doctor.

4. The arrival of the tannery completely changes the village. The tannery attracts a large population of workers to the area, and while the villagers are able to sell their goods at a higher price to the tannery workers, the price of goods goes up, and they are unable to afford the products they once could. The new businesses that open in the town also cause the old businesses to be driven away.

5. Biswas the moneylender is able to offer Rukmani more than double what Old Granny would pay her for her vegetables. Rukmani feels guilty for not doing business with Old Granny any longer, but she realizes that she must do so in order to support her family.