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Chapter 12: Amanda Ting
Sunday, 19 March 2006
Chapter twelve is mainly about two of Rukmani’s sons, Arjun and Thambi, and their job at the tannery. Although they receive one rupee for each day of their work, Arjun and Thambi, along with other fellow workers are not satisfied with their pay. As a result, both sons take part in a strike, but they end up losing their job. Shortly after, Arjun and Thambi are able to find another job; however, they are required to move far away to work in the tea plantation of Ceylon. Although Rukmani is saddened and reluctant to let her sons travel so far for a job, she ends up accepting their decision as she and her husband give them their blessing and bid them farewell. As Rukmani begins to spend time with her husband, Nathan, she realizes how beautiful and healthy the paddy fields have become since the devastating monsoon.

Rukmani receives from her benefactor, Kenny, news of her third son, who works as a servant, saying that he is doing very well and that she has nothing to worry about. During this time, Rukmani also suddenly asks Kenny if he is truly alone, meaning whether or not he has a family of his own. Kenny tells her that he has no wife or children, and he goes on to explain that he does as he please in terms of traveling to and from Rukmani’s village, because he is impatient with the peoples’ culture and can only handle so much of their way of life. Accepting this, Rukmani tries to understand Kenny in return, but as she watches him leave, she finds that she is unable to fully comprehend him either.

Posted by planet/nectarinasieve at 2:01 PM EST
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Literary Elements
Imagery: “we gazed at the paddy fields spreading rich and green before us…the air was cool and still, yet the paddy caught what little movement there was, leaning slightly one way and the next with soft whispering” (73)

Simile: “I glanced at [Kenny], sitting there in our hut with long, haggard face and eyes like a kingfisher’s wing” (74)

Posted by planet/nectarinasieve at 1:58 PM EST
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Hope: With three sons no longer living with the rest of the family, Rukmani and Nathan must hope for the best for each of them, especially the two oldest, as they have become old enough to live on their own and make their own decisions in life. Also, with the beautiful weather and green, healthy paddy fields, there are high hopes that the season will promise a good harvest for Rukmani’s family.

Comfort: When her two oldest sons decide to travel far away for a new job in a distant land, Ceylon, Rukmani is extremely saddened at her sons’ decision to leave their family. Seeing their mother’s grief and tears, Arjun and Thambi soothe her and speak of all the positive outcomes of their new job, despite the great distance from their home. Even after Arjun and Thambi depart for their new job, Nathan provides Rukmani with comfort as he speaks encouragingly of healthy the crops and fields have become, how promising the harvest will be for them, and how they may even be able to visit their son after the harvest.

Posted by planet/nectarinasieve at 1:52 PM EST
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Rukmani’s values of her cultural aspects are exemplified in this chapter. When Rukmani’s two oldest sons decide that they want to leave their home village to travel very far away for a new job, it gives Rukmani a lot of grief, and she is even reluctant to let them go without an argument or effort to make them stay. However, Rukmani has no choice but to accept her sons’ decision because the values of her culture tell her that “they must go their way,” for it is better for them to start living independently (72).

Another example is when Rukmani asks Kenny if he is truly alone, meaning without a wife and kids. He responds by saying he is surprised that Rukmani hasn’t asked him before. Part of the reason Rukmani has never asked Kenny this before is that she has not dared, because his looks and manner “forbids such talk” (74). It is also part of her culture that does not make it her place to ask such questions, especially to foreigners, of their marital status.

Posted by planet/nectarinasieve at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 19 March 2006 1:23 PM EST
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