Nectar in a Sieve

Puli Character Analysis

Puli is a street child whom Rukmani befriends when she travels to the city in search of Murugan. Rukmani pities Puli because he’s homeless and his fingers have rotted away from leprosy; in turn Puli pities Rukmani and Nathan because they are bewildered and frightened by the city. Puli is wise beyond his years, able to navigate the city and protect money from robbery; but he’s also a child, coveting toys in the market and enjoying the care and affection Rukmani provides. Their relationship shows the close ties between urban and rural poverty, as well as the mutual vulnerability of impoverished and uneducated people everywhere. Rukmani’s eventual decision to adopt Puli demonstrates the inherent generosity that persists despite her harrowing experiences in the city.
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Puli Character Timeline in Nectar in a Sieve

The timeline below shows where the character Puli appears in Nectar in a Sieve. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1 
Suffering Theme Icon
As the sun rises, Rukmani greets her children, especially Puli, whom she has adopted and brought home to her native village. When she asks if... (full context)
Chapter 25
Suffering Theme Icon
Rural vs. Urban Poverty Theme Icon
...if they pay him later on, when they have money. He proudly introduces himself as Puli, the “leader of our pack,” and Nathan and Rukmani take a liking to him. Rukmani... (full context)
Rural vs. Urban Poverty Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
After showing them the correct house, Puli quickly disappears. Assuming they are beggars, a servant tries to dismiss them, but Nathan explains... (full context)
Chapter 27
Family Theme Icon
...bouts of fever and rheumatism. One day, as she’s returning to the temple, she encounters Puli, who says he’s coming for payment. Smiling at the child, she tells him she has... (full context)
Rural vs. Urban Poverty Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
To Rukmani’s surprise, after finishing the meal, Puli stretches out next to her and falls asleep. Rukmani knows that Puli is better equipped... (full context)
Rural vs. Urban Poverty Theme Icon
Agriculture vs. Education Theme Icon
In the morning, Puli suggests that Rukmani and Nathan work at a stone quarry outside the city, where they... (full context)
Suffering Theme Icon
Rural vs. Urban Poverty Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
At the end of the day, Puli helps Rukmani gather the stones in a sack and bring them to the overseer for... (full context)
Rural vs. Urban Poverty Theme Icon
Accompanied by Puli, Rukmani and Nathan work in the quarry every day. They always give their earnings to... (full context)
Suffering Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...and he can only be happy there, even if he has to starve. He asks Puli what he will do when they leave, and Puli says he’ll return to begging and... (full context)
Suffering Theme Icon
Rukmani has become attached to Puli, and is saddened by the thought of leaving him. She also worries about the progression... (full context)
Chapter 28
Rural vs. Urban Poverty Theme Icon
...Rukmani and Nathan earn more money, they anticipate their return home more and more. Even Puli shares their excitement. One day, Nathan says he will return directly to the temple after... (full context)
Suffering Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...rice cakes from her usual vendor, and purchases extra sweet cakes as a treat for Puli. Emboldened by the extra spending, they stop in front of a man selling small toy... (full context)
Rural vs. Urban Poverty Theme Icon
...to work in the rain all week, even when the weather is so bad that Puli refuses to come to the quarry. (full context)
Chapter 30
Suffering Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...proceed with her life again. The one person who helps her through this time is Puli. Although she doesn’t quite remember the arguments she used, eventually she persuades him to accompany... (full context)
Rural vs. Urban Poverty Theme Icon
After a long journey by cart, Rukmani and Puli reach her own village. She is overjoyed to feel the familiar earth under her; the... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
...still unfinished, Selvam rushes out to embrace her. Soon, Irawaddy and Sacrabani join. Rukmani introduces Puli as her son, explaining that she and Nathan have adopted him. (full context)
Suffering Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Irawaddy takes Puli in her arms, promising him food and a rest. Selvam assures Rukmani that even with... (full context)