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Nectar in a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya-Online Book Summary


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1. Which of the following best describes Nathanís attitude about Rukuís ability to read?

a. he encourages her to keep reading
b. he makes her stop studying
c. he laughs at her for trying
d. he asks her to teach him

2. When Rukuís first child is born her first reaction is to

a. cry tears of joy
b. laugh at her babyís pale skin
c. weep because the baby is a girl
d. smile because she is happy

3. Rukuís village changes dramatically after

a. India gains independence
b. Biswas becomes mayor
c. Kenny builds his hospital
d. the tannery is built

4. Iraís husband is chosen by

a. Ira
b. Biswas
c. Old Granny
d. Ruku

5. When Ira returns home from her marriage her parents

a. kick her out for bringing shame on the family
b. let her stay but yell at her
c. praise her for leaving her husband
d. comfort her in her time of need

6. When Kuti is born, Ira is

a. excited about the baby
b. jealous of her mother
c. angry at her husband
d. mean to the child

7. Arjun and Thambi lose their jobs at the tannery because they

a. were always late
b. went on strike
c. attacked the guards
d. read while on the job

8. Kunthi wants ďher bloom backĒ so that she can

a. become a model
b. earn money by selling herself
c. find a husband
d. grow her own food

9. Rukuís secret that she has kept from Nathan over the years is that she

a. sought medical treatment from Kenny
b. can read and write
c. had a child with Biswas
d. had an affair with Kenny

10. Nathan steals the familyís rice to

a. pay off Biswas
b. buy Ira a new sari
c. pay off Kunthi
d. feed his starving self

11. Raja dies because

a. he starves
b. supposedly he was caught stealing at the tannery
c. Nathan kills him
d. he fights with Sivaji

12. Ira becomes a prostitute because she

a. wants to buy new clothes
b. wants a new husband
c. is bored and lonely
d. wants to save her brother

13. Ruku is upset by Iraís pregnancy because

a. there is no father
b. Kenny is the father
c. they donít have enough money
d. Ira is too young

14. Iraís baby is strange because

a. he has leprosy
b. he is an albino
c. itís a girl
d. she is too small

15. Ruku and Nathan go to the temple in the city to

a. pray and worship
b. fast
c. find food and shelter
d. meet their son

16. Ruku and Nathan decide to return to the village after

a. they canít find their son
b. Nathan is attacked
c. Puli steals their money
d. Murugan kicks them out

17. Puli helps Ruku and Nathan by

a. buying them food
b. taking them to the temple
c. telling them about the rock quarry
d. giving them a place to stay

18. When Nathan dies he tells Ruku that

a. he will live on through his children
b. she should adopt Puli
c. she should stay in the city
d. she should marry Kenny

19. At the end of the book Ruku has

a. gotten a job reading letters
b. decided to stay in the city
c. died
d. gone back to the village

20. Puli decides to

a. stay in the city
b. go home with Ruku
c. move to another city
d. become a doctor


1.) a
2.) c
3.) d
4.) c
5.) d
6.) a
7.) b
8.) b
9.) a
10.) c
11.) b
12.) d
13.) a
14.) b
15.) c
16.) a
17.) c
18.) a
19.) d
20.) b


1. Describe how the title is appropriate for the novel.

2. Why might the author have chosen to have Ruku tell her story in flashback form? Is Ruku a reliable narrator?

3. How does Rukuís experience as a daughter, wife and mother inform her relationship with her daughter Ira?

4. What role does nature play in the novel? What do you make of Rukuís statement that ďnature is like a wild animal that you have trained to work for youĒ?

5. How does the arrival of the tannery affect Ruku and the rest of the village?

6. Discuss the relationship between Ruku and Kunthi. What motivates Kunthi to behave as she does?

7. Discuss the character of Kenny. Why is he unable to understand Rukuís view of life? Do you think he respects Ruku?

8. Discuss Rukuís sons. How do their fates relate to and affect Ruku?

9. Why does Ruku become so attached to Puli? What does his character symbolize?

10. Why does Ruku tell her children Nathanís death was a ďgentle passingĒ? How does this symbolize their marriage as a whole?

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Sinclair, Meredith. "TheBestNotes on Nectar in a Sieve". . 09 May 2017