Celebrating Womanhood in Kamala Markandaya’s Nectar in a Sieve

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Kamala Markandaya was a pen name used by Kamala Purnaiya Taylor. She moved to England in 1948 and settled there after marrying an Englishman. However she still considered herself a true Indian. Her first published novel, Nectar in a Sieve (1954) was a bestseller and cited as an American Library Association Notable Book in 1955. Her other novels include, Some Inner Fury(1955), A Silence of Desire(1960), Possession(1963), A Handful of Rice(1966), The Nowhere Man(1972), Two Virgins(1973), The Golden Honeycomb(1977), and Pleasure City (1982). The works of Markandaya abound in the themes featuring a clash between traditional and modern, East and West, agriculture and Industrialization. Markandaya's feministic stance in her works is unique and distinctive. The female characters in Nectar in a Sieve are portrayed as independent minded confronting and enduring all odds meted out to them. Rukmani, the protagonist, comes across as a woman whose strength, courage, perseverance and resilience is a fitting reply to all those patriarchal institutions promoting the stereotypical images of women. The writer places her female characters in different circumstances and the same is to be analyzed in the Paper. Markandaya doesn’t portray her female characters in Nectar in a Sieve as victims rather they are shown as an epitome of will and patience standing upright against all onslaughts. Rukmani throughout the novel, succeeds in asserting and affirming her independent identity that celebrates her womanhood. Markandaya deconstructs the gender ideologies that propagate the dominance of male over female. The Paper is an attempt at scrutinizing the different female characters of the novel through feministic perspective.

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Women repr...

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...Kamala Markandaya in the form of a recurrent female ‘quest for autonomy’. It is Rukmani’s faith and belief in her own Self that makes her a unique woman protagonist. Thrity Umrigar in her “Afterword” to the novel regards Rukmani as a true “everywoman”. The novel is thus a saga of a triumphant womanhood in India.

Primary Sources
Markandaya, Kamala. Nectar in a Sieve (1954). New York : Signet Classics, 1982.
Secondary Sources
Arora, Neena. Nayantara Sahgal and Doris Lessing : A Feminist Study in Comparism. New Delhi : Prestige Books, 1991.
Krishnaswamy, Shantha. The Woman in Indian Fiction in English 1950–1980.New Delhi : Ashish Publishing House, 1984.
Pathak, R.S. Quest For Identity in Indian English Writing,Vol. I Fiction (ed). New Delhi : Bahri Publications, 1992.
Shirdwadkar, Meena. Image of Woman in the Indo-Anglian Novel. New Delhi: Sterling,1979.
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