This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Milk and Honey" by Rupi Kaur. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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Who are the main milk and honey characters? How did each person influence Rupi Kaur’s life and her poetry?
The milk and honey characters consist of Rupi Kaur’s family and two boys she had relationships with. This character list provides a brief look at each individual’s involvement.
Read on for an overview of key milk and honey characters.
5 Milk and Honey Characters
- Rupi’s Father: Kaur states that your father is supposed to be the first man you love, but that she didn’t have that experience because she never connected to her father. Kaur’s father was an alcoholic. She explains that there’s no such thing as an alcoholic parent. Instead, there are just alcoholics who fail to parent. When they would speak, her father often screamed at her. He claimed this was out of love, but this confused Kaur. She began to associate love with aggression. In fact, she began to develop angry tendencies like those of her father.
- Rupi’s Mother: While Kaur had to beg her father to have a relationship, her mother showered her with love and affection. When she was young, Kaur struggled to understand how a mother could focus all of her love and energy into a child without expecting anything in return. She couldn’t relate to it, but she was intrigued by it. She looked to her loving mother for guidance, especially when it came to love.
- Rupi’s Uncle: As a child, Kaur was raped by her uncle. She recalls her assault in graphic detail. In one therapy session, her therapist asked her to point to the area her uncle touched her. She noticed that the doll was about the same size as the girls her uncle liked to abuse. After she explained her uncle’s actions, her therapist asked how she was feeling. She said that she felt numb.
- First Boy Rupi Kissed: The first boy Kaur kissed held her down and forced himself on her. She was five years old at the time. After this, Kaur believed that her body wasn’t her own. Instead, her body was meant to be given to those who wanted it. She explains that the boy was a product of the household he was living in. His father’s sexual demands towards his mother taught him that sex was a man’s right and a woman’s obligation. Kaur relates to the boy’s mother through the emptiness Kaur felt after the forced encounter.
- Rupi’s First Love: The first serious love of Kaur’s life focused on her intellect before her body. They would read together and talk about their hopes and dreams. He related to her struggles and helped her work through them. While her first serious relationship started in a strong place, it deteriorated over the years. She stayed in the relationship for a while because she believed they could solve their differences. However, they ultimately couldn’t salvage their relationship. This resulted in a nasty breakup that caused a variety of emotions to surface.
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Here's what you'll find in our full Milk and Honey summary :
- How Rupi Kaur suffered sexual assault and oppression as a child
- What red flags Kaur missed in her toxic relationship
- How Kaur was able to heal and embrace her femininity