Kanthapura

by

Raja Rao

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Kanthapura can help.

Ratna Character Analysis

Kamalamma’s daughter, a young girl whose husband died soon after she married him at the age of ten. After Ratna becomes a widow, her mother ostracizes her, and the rest of the village treats her as a pariah and source of shame. She gets close to Moorthy early in his campaign of resistance and cares for him during his three-day fast. Ratna gains a central role in the Gandhian campaign once Ramakrishnayya dies and she begins to read religious texts to the rest of the Satyagrahis (even though she has little interest in philosophy). During the final massacre in Kanthapura, a policeman tries to rape her but she fights him off. With Rangamma and Moorthy in jail, Ratna becomes the movement’s leader during this final protest. The police arrest her, and in the book’s final section she returns after her release to tell Achakka and the other women Volunteers about Moorthy’s letter to her (in which he disavows Gandhi). Ultimately, she moves away to Bombay. Early in the book, Ratna represents the cruel reality of a caste system that will reject a young girl whose chosen husband dies before she is old enough to even recognize her place in the world, but her involvement in the Satyagrahi campaign demonstrates the way Gandhism empowers women and outcastes through its insistence on equality and drive for freedom.
Get the entire Kanthapura LitChart as a printable PDF.
Kanthapura PDF

Ratna Character Timeline in Kanthapura

The timeline below shows where the character Ratna appears in Kanthapura. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 3
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Kamalamma, Rangamma’s sister, stops by with her daughter Ratna. Ratna is a widow but “still kept her bangles and her nose-rings and ear-rings,” dressing... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Bhatta does not mention this, since he is not a woman; plus, Ratna’s father is his second cousin, and he used to play with her when she was... (full context)
Section 7
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
...little of that primordial radiance” and feeling love “pour out of him” with every breath. Ratna visits him and he feels differently toward her, no longer seeming “so feminine and soft... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
When Moorthy awakens, Rangamma, Seenu, and Ratna are watching him and Pariah Rachanna and Lingayya stand nearby. Moorthy feels that “something was... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Rangamma asks Ratna to watch when Moorthy wakes, and she prays to God for him. When he awakes,... (full context)
Section 11
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
...even though “never was a girl born in Kanthapura that had less interest in philosophy,” Ratna would be the one to read. (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
So each afternoon, Ratna read the texts and Rangamma interpreted them, “bring[ing] the British Government into every page and... (full context)
Section 12
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
...are so anxious that the bus has not arrived that Rangamma sends Pariah Lingayya and Ratna, then Chenna and Sidda, to check around town for him. (full context)
Section 15
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
...protestors by their hair—one kicks Rangamma so hard that she passes out, and another slaps Ratna until her mouth is bloodied. When Moorthy’s calls of “Mahatma Gandhi ki jai!” stop because... (full context)
Section 16
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...her to ring a bell if the police come into her house. With Rangamma and Ratna’s help, he managed to inform everyone in the village that night, and everyone stayed up... (full context)
Section 17
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
They hear a yell in the post office and find Ratna laying on the ground there as a police officer runs off. Ratna tells the women... (full context)
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
One woman feels feverish, and Ratna offers to fetch a blanket. Although the others protest, a policeman sees her as soon... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
When the women can sing no more, Ratna tells the rest stories about women who marched for Gandhi in cities around India. They... (full context)
Section 18
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...marching “pariah-looking people” out, but something seems wrong, and Rachi brings the other women to Ratna, “for she is our chief now.” (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...who blames Moorthy for “all this misery” and at first refuses to follow them to Ratna, but eventually gives in and joins. (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
They go to Sami’s house, where Ratna is staying, and find about a dozen other villagers looking at a door behind which... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
The door opens, and Ratna is behind it along with many of the men who had been arrested and a... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
...town and suddenly they blurt out, “no, no—this will not do, this will not do.” Ratna assures them that the Congress will take care of them, but the women cannot bring... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Ratna had already left, and everyone returns home in frustration as Achakka wonders whether Gandhism has... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...sees that they are women from their own village, including Kamalamma and Venkatalakshamma and Lakshamma. Ratna hopes that they want to buy out Bhatta’s lands. They have trouble discerning who is... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...city” and illuminate the fields around the village; when he sees them, Sankar shouts at Ratna to blow the conch. (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
Ratna drives the protestors forward and they all hear a volley of shots and close their... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...with bayonets, starting another chaotic massacre. Someone strikes one of the officers and Achakka hears Ratna’s voice saying, “no violence, in the name of the Mahatma” but cannot find her anywhere.... (full context)
Section 19
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Rangamma and Seenu will supposedly be released from prison soon, and Ratna has already gotten out. When she visited, Ratna told them about “the beatings and the... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
The dead have been cremated on the Himavathy’s banks. Ratna reported that Moorthy has been released, but he never returned to see the other villagers... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Ratna went to Bombay the week after her visit, but Achakka is hopeful about Rangamma’s upcoming... (full context)