Not only does Kenny cry out against injustice and poverty, he takes what actions he can to fight against them. He questions the status quo and exhorts the suffering to call for help. Sometimes his questions are naïve, such as when he remonstrates with Rukmani for taking dung out of the fields or for nursing her child past the age of weaning. Kenny does not always understand the severe marginality of the impoverished, yet Rukmani admires his gentle ways and tender heart. He brings western medicine to the village and helps both Rukmani and Ira conceive children, their greatest desire. Kenny sacrifices his wife and children to his calling in India and lives a lonely, isolated life. He helps others however he can, securing work in the city for Murugan and training Selvam as his assistant. He raises money by appealing to the humanity of the outside world and is tireless in building a hospital for the village. He is determined, says Rukmani, to find ways and means. In the novel, Kenny stands for hope.


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