Nectar in a Sieve

Kunthi Character Analysis

Kunthi is Rukmani’s beautiful and alluring neighbor. Kunthi is aloof and arrogant because she comes from a wealthy background and considers life in the village beneath her. While Rukmani becomes close with the other village women, like Kali and Janaki, Kunthi is always rude and “insolent” to her. Once, after Rukmani visits Kenny in town, she encounters Kunthi dressed in a sheer sari and made up provocatively; even though it’s obvious that Kunthi is conducting an affair, she implies that Rukmani has been cheating on her husband. Later, Nathan reveals to Rukmani that he slept with Kunthi before and after their marriage; in fact, he fathered both of Kunthi’s two sons. While Rukmani and Irawaddy provide surprisingly positive depictions of sexuality, Kunthi’s sexuality is characterized as an explicit threat to the cohesion of the family.

Kunthi Quotes in Nectar in a Sieve

The Nectar in a Sieve quotes below are all either spoken by Kunthi or refer to Kunthi. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Suffering Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Signet edition of Nectar in a Sieve published in 2010.
Chapter 14 Quotes

It seemed to me that a new peace came to us then, freed at last from the necessity for lies and concealment and deceit, with the fear of betrayal lifted from us, and the power we ourselves had given her finally rested from Kunthi.

Related Characters: Rukmani (speaker), Nathan, Kunthi
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:
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Kunthi Character Timeline in Nectar in a Sieve

The timeline below shows where the character Kunthi appears in Nectar in a Sieve. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1 
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
...talkative, always making jokes; Janaki, the shopkeeper’s wife, is tired and careworn from many pregnancies; Kunthi, the youngest, is beautiful and graceful despite being very pregnant. Now, Kali makes raunchy jokes... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
...fruit on the road. Janaki and Kali often drop by to give Rukmani advice, but Kunthi keeps her distance; she’s much quieter than the other woman and no one can make... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Rural vs. Urban Poverty Theme Icon
...that in these kinds of marriages, it’s actually the husband who suffers, as she and Kunthi are unfamiliar with basic farming chores. Rukmani has to learn how to milk the goat... (full context)
Chapter 2
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Soon, Rukmani is pregnant. Around this time, Kunthi goes into labor on a day when only Rukmani is available to help. Kunthi pushes... (full context)
Chapter 3
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...and happy to have a companion, since Kali and Janaki’s children are much older, and Kunthi remains distant. Overjoyed, Nathan invites everyone in the village to celebrate and they prepare an... (full context)
Chapter 4
Suffering Theme Icon
...village, glad that her house is far from “the smell of their brews and liquors.” Kunthi says she should be glad that the village is becoming a town, and it will... (full context)
Chapter 8
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Kunthi’s sons begin to work at the tannery, bringing home high wages to their mother’s delight.... (full context)
Chapter 9
Agriculture vs. Education Theme Icon
Arjun says that Kunthi’s son will procure him a job, but Rukmani counters that she will ask Kenny, since... (full context)
Chapter 11
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Walking home from Kenny’s office, Rukmani encounters Kunthi in the path. Kunthi remarks insinuatingly that Rukmani keeps “late hours,” but Rukmani retorts that... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
In close proximity to Kunthi, Rukmani notices that she has tied her sari below her bellybutton, “like a strumpet,” and... (full context)
Chapter 14
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
On the eighth day of rationing, Kunthi arrives at the cottage. Rukmani has not seen her since their encounter in town, and... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Kunthi asks for a meal; Rukmani gives her some rice water but explains that she cannot... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Kunthi threatens to tell Nathan that Rukmani lacks virtue if she doesn’t give her any rice.... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Eventually, Rukmani gives Kunthi seven days worth of rice. In the middle of the night, worried that Kunthi is... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...into the hut and tells Rukmani not to admonish the children. Sobbing, he admits that Kunthi forced him to give her the rice. He is the father of both of her... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Finally, Rukmani says tiredly that Kunthi is “evil and powerful” and they should forget about the whole affair. She tells Nathan... (full context)
Chapter 16
Suffering Theme Icon
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
...wakes up filled with optimism. Suddenly she hears footsteps entering the hut and fears that Kunthi has returned to steal from them again. She sees a woman’s figure in the dusk... (full context)
Chapter 18
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
...knows she is close to Kenny and that he has heard of their friendship from Kunthi. Rukmani calls him a “carrion crow,” but soon her anger subsides. She knows Biswas isn’t... (full context)