Just like any other story, “Nectar in a Sieve” follows a specific narrative structure when telling its’ story.
This is a Freytag’s pyramid and includes an exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. The rising action is included because without it, the story would have no conflict, no plot, and no stakes. This section of the pyramid kicks the story’s events into action and leads into the conflict the characters must overcome before they can reach a resolution. After the exposition, the first inciting incident comes with the addition of the tannery in the village. From the very beginning, Rukmani disapproves of the tannery and forbids her sons Arjun and Thambi from working there. However, the family struggled with poverty and starvation, so despite their disapproval, their sons get a job at the tannery to bring in extra money. This decision disappoints Rukmani and Nathan because they had high hopes that their sons would become tenant farmers like their father.
- Thesis Statement
- Structure and Outline
- Voice and Grammar
Later on, Arjun and Thambi are fired for starting a labor strike, ending their contribution to the family’s wealth. The next conflict introduced is a natural disaster. After arranging a wedding for Ira, their crops suffer a serious blow from monsoon rains, which forces Rukmani to sacrifice her savings so she can afford to feed her family. Also, Ira’s husband brings her back to her parents’ home because she was unable to bear him a son, something Rukmani had trouble with when she first married Nathan. She fixed her problem by consulting Dr. Kenny, so she takes Ira to him to see if he could help her aswell. Thanks to Dr.
Kenny, Ira is able to bear a son who she names Kuti. This lifts Ira out of her depression until the family’s crops die from drought and they have to sell their possessions to pay half of what they owe to the landowner. If they’re unable to pay rent, they’ll have to give up their land and move. This leads into another conflict within the family. Rukmani and Nathan go to the market to barter what they have left with the merchants, but unfortunately, they don’t earn nearly enough rupees to pay rent.
Nathan suggests selling the rest of their seeds, but Rukmani adamantly denies the idea, arguing that the seeds are their only source of food and that farming is their way of life. Also, selling the seeds wouldn’t give them many rupees. However, Nathan argues that if they don’t pay their lease, they won’t have any land to plant the seeds in. Ultimately, they decide to hold onto the seeds if they somehow manage to pay their lease on time. Another conflict appears when Kunthi shows up at their doorstep and demands rice from them, despite that they were starving and desperate for anything they could scrounge up. Rukmani reluctantly serves her, but only because Kunthi had blackmailed her. On one of her trips to Dr.
Kenny’s office, Kunthi ran into her and threatened to tell Nathan, something that Rukmani didn’t want him knowing about. It also turns out that Kunthi was blackmailing Nathan too, as he didn’t want Rukmani to know that he was previously married to Kunthi and was the father of her sons. This situation forces the two to confess their secrets to each other, which strengthens their bond and rids Kunthi of her power over the family. And the final conflict introduced in the first 19 chapters is the death of Rukmani and Irawaddy’s sons. At this point in the story, the family is the hungriest they’ve ever been and there hasn’t been rain in months. The family keeps hoping for a harvest, but it doesn’t come.
One afternoon, the men from the tannery bring Raja, Rukmani’s 4th son, to their doorstep. She discovers that he has died, but the company tries to reassure her that it was his own fault for trying to steal and that the company was free from any responsibility for his death. Since she can’t sue them, they don’t earn any money and continue living in poverty.
This is until one day when the harvest comes and they’re able to eat for the first time in weeks. Unfortunately, the harvest comes too late, as Ira’s son had already died from hunger. Rukmani and Nathan were able to survive during the drought, but not without their fair share of losses.