Msgr. Scanlan High School
Nectar in the Sieve Independent Reading Questions Mrs. Keelin
1. What events happen in this chapter?
2. Where does Ruku go with Nathan?
3. Characterize Nathan. What do you think of him from this chapter?
4. What does Ruku mean when she says, “I think it cost him a good deal to say what he did”(13) ?
5. How does Ruku feel when she is told that her baby is female? Why does she feel this way? What does her reaction suggest about the status of Indian women at the time?
6. Describe Ruku’s relationship with Kunthi.
7. Describe Kenny. Why does Ruku keep her visits to him a secret?
8. Name Ruku’s sons.
9. Why is Ruku so worried about putting away rupees for Ira’s dowry?
10. Read the opening paragraph of this chapter. What does the description of the tannery suggest?
11. What is a tannery? Look it up if you don’t know.
12. What do we learn about Kenny in this chapter?
13. Describe the customs surrounding Ira’s engagement and wedding. What do these customs tell you about Indian culture?
14. Explain the opening statement from chapter 7: “Nature is like a wild animal that you have trained to work for you.” What does this description of Nature suggest?
15. How does the village and its members change? Why?
16. What happens in this chapter?
17. Who does in include? ( BRIEF SYNOPIS)
18. Why does Ira return? How does Nathan view her return?
19. Why does Arjun want to work at the tannery? How does Ruku react and why?
20. What festival is celebrated in this chapter?
21. What is the purpose of Chapter 10?
22. How is Ruku’s encounter with Kunthi significant?
23. How does Ira change by the end of this chapter? What brings about this change?
24. Consider Ruku’s comment, “It is true, one gets used to anything” and the paragraph that follows. Do you agree with Ruku’s comment? Why or why not?
25. Describe Arjun’s and Thambi’s characters—how are they different from Ruku and Nathan? Cite evidence to support your response.
26. How could what is happening with the tannery apply to a situation in today’s world?
27. What natural disaster befalls Ruku and Nathan? How does this hurt them?
28. How does Ruku get some of the money they need?
29. Explain the irony of the chapter.
30. How does Kunthi blackmail Ruku? Why? Do you agree with Ruku’s decision to give Kunthi rice, or would you have handled the situation differently? Why?
31. What secret does Nathan reveal to Ruku? What was your reaction to this secret? How does Ruku react? Now that their secrets are out in the open, how does Ruku and Nathan’s marriage change as a result?
32. How has Kuti changed?
33. Explain how the verb tense changes on page 89. What does this verb tense shift suggest?
34. Why do the men from the tannery visit Ruku? What do you think is the purpose of this scene? What does it show about Ruku, the tannery, etc.?
35. To what does Ruku first give credit for Kuti’s improved health? What is the real reason, and how does it make Ruku feel? What is Nathan’s reaction?
36. Describe Ruku’s reaction to Kuti’s death.
37. What is the tone of the opening line of the chapter?
38. What does this chapter tell us about Nathan’s character? How do you know?
39. What background information does Ruku learn about Kenny in her visit to him? How does information affect the reader’s perception of Kenny?
40. What do you think of Ruku’s words, “A woman’s place is with her husband”(106)? What does Kenny think of them? What would Ira think of them?
41. What has become of Ira? What does Ruku mean when she says, “Had she been barren forever, it would have been better”?
42. What is Selvam’s announcement?
43. At the end of this chapter, Kenny and Ruku discuss their differing approaches to suffering and injustice. Summarize each character’s viewpoint and then find a passage that shows this view. With whose approach do you agree and why?
44. What is “wrong” with Sacrabani?
45. How does Selvam save Ira’s baby from Kali’s shameful words?
46. Why does Ruku feel guilt over Old Granny’s death?
47. How long will the hospital’s construction take? What effect does this have on Selvam? Old Granny?
48. What does Kali believe is the root of most of the country’s troubles? What does this say about Kali, and how is this belief consistent with her character? Do you agree with her? Why or why not?
49. Explain Ruku’s words, “I wonder whether parents ever know their children as they known one another”. What does she mean?
50. What questions does Sacrabani have for Ira? How does she handle them? What is Nathan’s advice, and what does it reveal about his character?
51. What news comes from Murugan?
52. How has Nathan changed? How much time has elapsed since the beginning of the novel?
53. Consider the juxtaposition of major events in the novel, particularly between pages 129 and 130, and earlier, between pages 77 and 78, and again between pages 100 and 101. As an author, what does Markandaya seem to be doing? In other words, what effect is she trying to create, or what impact does her narration have on the reader?
54. How has the tannery once again been a curse to Ruku and Nathan? What happens as a result?
55. Describe the writing style Markandaya uses on pages 139-141. How did she use this style earlier in the novel, and what is the effect?
56. What happens to Ruku and Nathan when they arrive in the city? How does Markandaya build sympathy in the reader for them?
57. Explain the significance of the description of the children on page 152.
58. What is surprising about the doctor, Murugan’s former employer?
59. Who is Ammu? What is her reaction to Ruku and Nathan? Why?
60. At first, how does Ruku plan on earning money? What challenges does she face?
61. What is the worst condition Ruku and Nathan have had to face thus far in the city? Explain why.
62. Explain what Ruku means when she comments, “There is no limit to the achievements of human courage.
63. Returning from work one day with Puli, Ruku spends some of their precious money on toys and food treats. How does she feel as she makes these purchases?
64. What does Nathan tell Ruku? What question does he ask her?
65. What is shown in the last minutes of Nathan’s life between him and Ruku?
66. Examine Ruku’s last words. How are they significant?
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