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Celebrating Womanhood In Kamala Markandaya’s Nectar In A Sieve

2270 words - 9 pages

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.

Body of the Article
Women representation in literature has always been governed by ideologies based on hierarchical binary oppositions with male suppressing and repressing female. As a result women had to prevent themselves from misrepresentation which led to their silencing. A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft marks the beginning for the plea of distinct female voice advocating the moral and social equality of women. Later Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of one’s own” seeks for an intellectual equality of women. Feminists across cultures concern themselves with the independence and autonomy of women. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s “Can the Subaltern speak?” points to the female as subaltern who according to her is doubly marginalized and “deeply in shadow”. The paper attempts to read Nectar in a Sieve from feminist perspective. Markandaya brings in the marginality, subalternity and forsakenness of a new born female child through Irawaddy’s birth. Irawaddy is Rukmani’s first child and her response to Ira’s birth is, “I turned away and, despite myself, the tears came, tears of weakness and disappointment; for what woman wants a girl for her first-born?” (15) . Nathan too is unhappy at her birth, “he had wanted a son to continue his...

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