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Date QW Written: December 1, 2014
The source of Rukmani’s resilience is the hope for prosperity and strength in knowing things can be better. Because Rukmani has once experienced good times with good harvests, she is able to bounce back from periods of starvation in the return of times without hardship. In the novel, Irawaddy, Rukmani and Nathan’s first child, also faced constant challenges throughout the story. The first hardship Ira faced was her infertility. She had believed herself to be a failure of a woman, unable to do the one thing a woman should do — carry a child. Another hardship she faced along with her family was the lack of food during monsoons and drought. While Rukmani was hopeful although sometimes with false courage, Ira found a reason to draw on her strength in human spirit; the reason was to feed her starving brother, Kuti, and to keep him alive. Because of Kuti, Ira was willing to face the degradation of prostitution and that action alone is testament to Ira’s selflessness and determination.
Throught Rukmani’s character, Nectar in a Sieve teaches that blind hope sustains the human spirit. When the harvests are bad and her family is starving, Rukmani is pragmatic but that does not deter her hope. For example, when Kuti dies, Rukmani claims that is is good he did not continue starving and there was one less mouth to feed, but that experience that should jade her never actually does. Rukmani’s belief that her fate is in God’s hands and constant near naive determination disproves Coleridge’s quote in showing, at times, hope without object can live.
Note: The Coleridge quote referenced in this QW can be found in this poem.