The monsoon rains come early and stronger than usual - it pours rain for days and Ruku and Nathan watch helplessly as their rice crop succumbs to the floods. On the last night of the storm, a lightening bolt claims their coconut palm tree as well, leaving them with little of value.

When the storm finally subsides, Ruku learns that many of her neighbors have also suffered greatly. Kali's hut was destroyed in the storm and a group of village men was killed by a lightening strike.

Nathan and Ruku take two of their precious rupees to town for rice and new palm leaves to thatch their roof before the rains return. Nearly everything, save the brick and cement tannery, lies in tatters, the villagers wonder aimlessly about, picking up scraps of their possessions. They return home empty handed.

A second trip to the village for rice brings them to Biswas, the only one in town with anything left to sell. He sells them rice at a high price but they have no choice - it's buy or starve. On the way home they encounter Kenny who shouts at them for continuing to suffer in silence. Not understanding his anger, Ruku and Nathan continue home.

The family struggles on until it is time for the fields to be drained for replanting. There are plenty of fish to be caught during the draining, and for a while at least the family has full bellies. Ruku falls asleep with dreams of saving and planning once again for the future.


Ruku begins the chapter by comparing nature to a wild animal you have trained to work for you. India experiences annual monsoon rains - without them people die from lack of water; if they are too heavy, people die from flooding and ruined crops. This year the monsoon brings devastating floods, which destroy the rice crop. Because they have no ability to save for the future, families like Ruku's suffer greatly and hunger is unavoidable.

The suffering is not Ruku's alone; her trip to the village shows few have escaped unscathed. Only the tannery stands nearly untouched - a force so strong not even nature can stop it.

Like many poor people, Nathan and Ruku are faced with a difficult choice - do they spend their scant funds on overpriced food and delay hunger or do they save and hope to find food elsewhere? They decide to buy a bit of rice to tide them over until better times. Biswas, the moneylender, represents those that take advantage of their own less fortunate neighbors.

Ruku's encounter with Kenny illustrates one of the fundamental differences between them. He is angry that Ruku and her neighbors do not cry out against injustice and ask the world for help in their time of need. Ruku, on the other hand, lives in a culture that teaches suffering in silence - one is expected to quietly bear the burdens one is given. What Kenny sees as weakness or failing in Ruku is actually a source of her strength; she will endure much more in her life but never once seems to pity herself or begrudge those who are more fortunate.

The chapter ends on a note of hope. With her family's food problems solved at least temporarily, Ruku allows herself to once again dream of the future. She sees only bright possibility where many would see despair.

Cite this page:

Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on A Long Way Gone".