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Quotes

Quote #1

How quickly children grow! They are infants—you look away a minute and in that time they have left their babyhood behind. Our little girl ran about in the sun bare and beautiful as she grew, with no clothes to hamper her limbs or confine her movements. Then one day when she was five—long before Arjun was born—Nathan pointed her out to me as she played in the fields.

"Cover her," he said. "It is time."

I wanted to cry out that she was a baby still, but of course Nathan was right; she had left infancy forever. (3.38)

From the moment that Ira stops being an infant, she is burdened with what it means to be a woman in this society. Her life will change: her parents will clothe her, and the restrictions on her behavior and movement will increase until she’s finally sent off to be married. Though her parents make these changes and restrictions against her with the best of intentions, nothing will protect her from the world.

Quote #2

Change I had known before, and it had been gradual. My father had been a headman once, a person of consequence in our village: I had lived to see him relinquish this importance, but the alteration was so slow that we hardly knew when it came. I had seen both my parents sink into old age and death, and here too there was no violence. But the change that now came into my life, into all our lives, blasting its way into our village, seemed wrought in the twinkling of an eye. (4.1)

Ruku has a million reasons to resent the tannery, but she suggests that it’s the swiftness of the transformation it brought about that’s hardest to bear. It’s not just the tannery itself that bothers Ruku. What upsets Rukmani most is the fact that even from its earliest building stages, it was clear that the tannery would change the pace of village life. It’s almost as if the changes brought about by the tannery bleed into nearly every facet of Ruku’s life.

Quote #3

"Besides, you will not want me so often," I said. "This home, your brothers, are all you have known so far, but when you have your own home and your own children you will not miss these… (6.8)

A woman traditionally leaves her father’s house for her husband’s house. Rukmani knows that Ira will miss her, but she seems pretty comfortable with Ira essentially trading her old family for a new family. Rukmani can be wistful about this, but the reality is that her daughter’s success will require cutting ties with her past and setting up shop elsewhere. Rukmani seems to accept this change glibly, as she does with most things that pain her deeply.

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