The Hungry Tide

The Hungry Tide

by

Amitav Ghosh

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The Hungry Tide: Part 1: Kusum Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Kanai looks to where Nirmal's house once stood. It had been a two-room bungalow, and Kanai had slept in the study when he visited in 1970. He'd spent his nights imagining the roof above his canopy of mosquito netting had come alive, which wasn't far from the truth—Nilima once found a snake in the ceiling while tying up a canopy, and creatures fell to the floor all night long. The Women's Union meetings were held in the courtyard of the bungalow several times per week, and it was there that Kanai first met Kusum. One night, while eavesdropping on the meeting from the study, he listened to a woman tell about being assaulted by her drunk father-in-law. Looking into the courtyard, he met Kusum's eyes.
Even within an enclosed, manmade structure, the natural world still manages to get in—this reinforces that in tide country, nature reigns supreme, and there's no escaping it. The mosquito netting, however, does appear to keep out most of the wildlife, which suggests that there are some effective ways of protecting oneself from the natural world. The woman's story at the union meeting suggests again that life on Lusibari is extremely difficult, and the women especially struggle to survive.
Themes
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Idealism and Theory vs. Practicality and Action Theme Icon
The next morning, Kusum approached Kanai, angry, and accused him of listening in on the meeting. Kanai was a little afraid, but refused to show Kusum the book he'd been reading on the grounds that she wouldn't understand it. She'd put a grasshopper in her mouth and then made it jump out right at Kanai's face.
While Kanai is able to feel powerful here by denying Kusum language, Kusum is able to trump his power play by scaring him with the natural world. This reinforces the power of the natural world in tide country.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon