Rukmani: She is the main character of Nectar In a Sieve. She was born into a wealthy family in her village. At age twelve she married man named Nathan, who was a tenant farmer who owned no land. Growing up she did not have preform chores, but after she gets married she learns how to do the chores of a wife and a farmer. Rukmani is a strong believer in spiritual strength. During her life she learns how to help other women endure child birth. She also helps others, along with herself, accept the changes that the tannery brings to their village. Through the story Rukmani goes through some good, but she also goes through some bad times as well. She has one daughter, who turns to prostitution. She also has six sons, in which one dies, and the rest leave home to work at the tannery. Over the years she endures loss, rage, poverty, and starvation. She learns to control and face the consequences of her actions. Whenever her patience and tolerance was tested her spiritual belief would only grow.
Nathan: He is the tenant farmer, who becomes Rukmani's husband. He loves the earth and all of its land that it provides. Nathan's personality is warm and forgiving and towards his wife he is kind and gentle. As years pass on his love grows for Rukmani and he becomes the best life partner she could have ever asked for. He really wanted sons so they could farm along with him. But after Rukmani finally gave him the sons he always wanted they grew up, Nathan came to find none of them were interested in farming. This was not only hurtful, but also heartbreaking to Nathan. Nathan is someone that was gifted with the talent of farming and someone who went through many hardships in his life. But no matter how many hardships he endured he still maintained a strong and bright personality through it all.
Kenny: He is the white doctor from the west who helps people within the village. Kenny become friend with Runkmani by helping her overcome her infertility problems. When coming to the village Kenny is disgusted and shocked at the poverty and the patients within their village. Throught the story Kenny is extremely helpful and kind toward Rukmani and her family. Although he helps many people through the story he is a very private character.
Kunthi: She is the most beautiful girl in the village. She was pregnant when Rukmani first meets her. She is some what in to the social aspect of life. She becomes enlightened and happy when the tannery comes to the village and expands the villages population and creates more excitement within the citizens. People tell her she married beneath her. Kunthi becomes a little bit full of her self, and throughout the story enjoys going into the near town and having the boys watch. Her personality is somewhat man obsessed, and very over protective.
Ira: She is Rukmani and Nathan's first child. She is named after the Irawaddy River. Which is a sacred river within their village. Ira is a very talented and beautiful young girl. She is very attached to her youngest brother Kuti. When she is older and married she falls into depression when her husband leaves her. Ira turns to prostitution during the story. She later then has a son by the name of Sacrabani who is albino.
Arjun: He is the first son of Rukmani and Nathan. He is an intelligent young boy. He is one of their children that goes to work at the tannery because he wants to help his family out. Also, him and the rest of the family is sick of the hunger problem. He provides very well for his family and gives his mother, Rukmani, all his earning. He is also a very handsome young man, and goes very far within the tannery business.
Thambi: He is Rukmani and Nathan's second son. He also goes along with his older brother to work at the village tannery. But unlike Arjun he does not go very far in the tannery business. He becomes a very angry and unpleasant person. This lack of dedication to work is spread to his older brother. Which causes both of them to lose their positions within the tannery.
Murugan: He is the third child of Rukmani and Nathan. He is basically the outcast of the children. Early in his life, he becomes interested in Kenny, the white doctor's, occupation. So Kenny tells him about a job in the city and sends Murugan to take it. In the city he marries, without even notifying his parents. He also has a child with this women. But within years he leaves the city he lived in along with his wife and child.
Raja: He is Rukmani and Nathan's fourth son. He is not a large character within this sotry. He is the son who is murdered during the time of the famine. He was killed by the tannery guards for supposedly stealing a calfskin.
Selvam: He is the fifth son of Rukmani and Nathan. He is by far the most hardworking son of theirs. His father, Nathan, really wants Selvam to take to farming, but he never really takes interest in it. He somewhat follows the track of his older brother Murugan and is interested in Kenny, the white doctors work. He is very close with his older sister Ira and took a particular liking to his nephew Sacrabani. He is very over protective of him, especially when people make fun of his albino skin.
Kuti: He is the sixth and last son of Rukmani and Nathan. Rukmani gives birth to Kuti at an old age. He is the one child in the family who most like endures the most suffering because he was born within the time period of the famine. But he is the baby who brings who brings his older sister out of her despair.
Sacrabani: He is Iras albino son. He was concieved during the time that his mother Ira turned to prostitution. Since he is albino he is considered a loser or a freak within the villagers. He is not only made fun of by other children but also adults. His skin is extremely pale and he sunburns easily. His hair is also so fair it appears as a white color.