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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Life, Consciousness, and Existence

The meaning of life is constantly questioned and probed in this text. Life means different things to different characters: For Rukmani, it is an opportunity for endurance and spiritual cleansing th...

Suffering

Suffering is fact of life in Nectar in a Sieve. Characters suffer financially, but they also suffer in deeper and more personal ways. Rukmani watches as her children starve, and her family breaks a...

Transformation

Transformation has many facets in Nectar in a Sieve. Characters are transformed by hardship, learning how to endure and transcend difficulties. The town is transformed by the tannery, which disrupt...

Man and the Natural World

Nature is a dual force in the novel. It brings great joy but also great pain. Characters often get angry about other forces beyond their control (the tannery, their children). However, for all the...

Poverty

Poverty is the everyday reality of the characters in the novel. Poverty is not an abstract concept that one can really think about; it’s like a wolf at the door that must constantly be staved...

The Home

The home is a place of stability in this novel. The home represents safety and protection, but it is also the keeper of people’s larger lives. When Rukmani packs up her home to go, she leaves...

Love

Nectar in a Sieve is full of all different kinds of love. Family love, romantic love, love for children, and abstract philosophical love of life and land, are all central to the novel. The ability...

Foreignness and 'The Other'

Foreignness is most present in this novel as a trope of colonialism. The colonial world has brought in unfamiliar objects, people, and ways of life. The tannery, the Muslims that come to work at th...

Women and Femininity

Nectar in a Sieve hints at the fact that women did not have as much power in their society as men. The women of this novel, however, exercise tremendous and unusual power in many different ways. Ru...

Power

Power is another important force in Nectar in a Sieve. Much of the novel is driven by the fact that the characters are often powerless against external circumstances. They are at the whim of the we...
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