The Hungry Tide

The Hungry Tide

by

Amitav Ghosh

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The Hungry Tide: Part 1: Dreams Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Back in Nirmal's notebook, Horen and Nirmal decide to stay the night in Kusum's hut. Late at night, Kusum wakes Nirmal from a feverish dream. In the morning, Nirmal admires the beautiful landscape. He looks around the settlement, which is surprisingly organized. He's in awe and is thrilled; he thinks he's watching the birth of something amazing, especially given that the settlers aren't educated radicals. Nirmal has to sit and gather himself for a moment and then races back to Kusum's hut. He asks her to take him to the settlement's leaders—he wants to help.
Nirmal's surprise betrays his own belief in the superiority of education and of people like him—it's fairly clear that he didn't believe before seeing it that uneducated refugees could come up with a system that so closely mirrors what Nirmal has read about in Marxist theory. This begins to suggest that political ideas don't need to stem from education, something that will help Nirmal humanize the refugees.
Themes
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The Human Cost of Environmental Conservation Theme Icon
Idealism and Theory vs. Practicality and Action Theme Icon
Related Quotes
The settlement's leader shows Nirmal around. Nirmal is still amazed by the organization and the industry of the settlers. When the leader mentions they'll need help, Nirmal offers his services. The leader says that they really need someone who can put pressure on the government to leave the settlement alone, and he becomes annoyed when Nirmal admits he can't help with that. Nirmal suggests he could teach the children of Morichjhãpi, which doesn't interest the leader at first. Finally, he agrees. Nirmal returns to tell Kusum the news. She's perplexed and asks what Nirmal intends to teach the illiterate children who need to help their families survive, and he says he'll teach them to dream.
When Kusum is just as perplexed by Nirmal's interest as Nirmal is by the settlers' successes, it shows that both of them have deeply held ideas about how different groups function—Kusum suggests here that illiterate children have little need for the kind of education she'd expect Nirmal to want to bestow upon them. Teaching those children to dream implies that Nirmal may teach them more about the theory behind their settlement, which in turn suggests he'd like the children to follow him in his desire to promote pure theory.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
The Human Cost of Environmental Conservation Theme Icon
Idealism and Theory vs. Practicality and Action Theme Icon