Like Rukmani, Nathan identifies with the sustaining and replenishing earth. As a young husband, he thrives on the hope of one day owning land. However, with each passing year, the tannery gains ascendancy over the rural landscape, and his hope diminishes. Nathan is heartbroken when his sons repudiate a farmer’s life and turn to other occupations, yet he refuses to ask any of them to sacrifice their hopes for a better future. Despite bitter times, Nathan is capable of great happiness and joy, and the prospect of a good harvest renews his spirit. He dances joyously with his sons at the Festival of Lights and loves Rukmani passionately. Often he praises her cleverness and calls her the best of wives. Like Rukmani, Nathan is not perfect. His secret infidelity with Kunthi early in his marriage fills him with shame and regret until he confesses to Rukmani and earns her forgiveness. Rukmani describes Nathan as an upright man. He will not eat the food his daughter procures from prostituting herself, nor will he fight like an animal for food at the temple as others do. At his death, the flame atop the temple goes out as his soul is liberated from his suffering body. Like the land he loves, Nathan exemplifies spiritual harmony.


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