The Hungry Tide

The Hungry Tide

by

Amitav Ghosh

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The Hungry Tide: Part 1: Stirrings Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Piya wakes late at night and realizes the sound that woke her is the sound of the crabs in the boat's hold. She notices that Fokir is up and keeping watch, and it warms her to think that he's looking out for her and is trustworthy. She thinks of her fear earlier and begins to shiver uncontrollably. Fokir approaches, looking anxious, and lies down next to her to warm her. When the shivering stops, they both jump up, uncomfortable at their closeness. Fokir leaves to attend to Tutul, and Piya thinks of the sari she's using as a pillow. She feels as though its owner is with her in the boat, and she wants to tell her that nothing untoward happened.
When Piya wants to tell the owner of the sari (presumably, Fokir's wife) that nothing sexual or romantic happened, it suggests that she may already be developing feelings for Fokir—proof that she's humanized him to a point where she's able to see him as a possible romantic partner. This is a testament to the effectiveness of the ways that Piya and Fokir communicate, given that she's made this switch in about a day.
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When Piya wakes up again, the boat is already moving through thick fog. She can barely see, so she stays in bed and dozes. She hears Fokir drop anchor and then jolts upright when she hears a muffled snorting sound. It's the sound of Orcaella dolphins. Piya excitedly calls Fokir to her and points to the water, but he seems unsurprised. She wonders if he knew the dolphins would be here, but thinks that would be impossible given the dolphins' unpredictability. Piya unpacks her equipment as a dolphin surfaces mere feet away. As the fog clears over the next several hours, Piya realizes they're in a boomerang-shaped crook of a river and identifies seven dolphins, including a mother and calf. She's intrigued that they don't leave the crook of the river, as this is abnormal for the species.
Piya's surprise at the dolphins' behavior and at Fokir's apparent ability to lead her to them suggests that she may need to reevaluate more than just her thoughts on Fokir—clearly, these dolphins aren't what she was expecting. This suggests again that the natural world of the Sundarbans is fundamentally unknowable, and it exists and functions with little regard to what humans think about it. Piya's equipment is an attempt to bridge this gap and try to tame and understand the natural world.
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