The Hungry Tide

The Hungry Tide

by

Amitav Ghosh

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The Hungry Tide: Part 2: Catching Up Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After showering, Piya collapses into a chair. She suddenly remembers the crocodiles that morning and feels the sense of terror she felt then. She imagines being killed by crocodiles, but makes herself look out the window. When she hears a woman's voice and Kanai's, she goes downstairs to investigate. There, she finds Kanai with a woman who looks her over before leaving their dinner and walking away. Kanai explains that she's Moyna, Fokir's wife. Piya feels briefly jealous that Moyna gets to go home to Fokir.
The fear that Piya still feels reinforces the idea that nature, while beautiful and interesting at times, is also a deadly force. However, Piya's jealousy suggests that she'll become more interested in human conflicts than the ones posed by the natural world, at least for a while. This in turn can leave her vulnerable to be surprised by something in nature.
Themes
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
The Human Cost of Environmental Conservation Theme Icon
Kanai insists that Moyna is a truly remarkable woman: she's struggled to educate herself and is becoming a nurse. Piya thinks Kanai must find her soft and spoiled in comparison. He explains that Moyna and Fokir came from far away so Moyna could learn at the hospital, and mentions that Moyna knows all about Piya—Tutul told her everything. Piya wonders if Fokir said nothing.
When Piya continues to undervalue her work in comparison to nursing work, it suggests that she believes in a distinct hierarchy of work and believes that her work is easier or less impactful than Moyna's work..
Themes
Language Theme Icon
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Idealism and Theory vs. Practicality and Action Theme Icon
Kanai begins to dish up the food, but Piya only accepts white rice. Kanai talks about Lusibari and its history during dinner. He tries to object when Piya washes dishes, but agrees to talk about himself when she asks. He explains that he provides translators for all kinds of organizations. Piya is amazed to hear that language can be used like currency, and is fascinated when Kanai admits that in addition to Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, and English, he also speaks French and Arabic. He says he wanted to translate poetry as a young man, but soon discovered that there's no money in that.
The way that Kanai talks about what kinds of language are more valuable shows that just as Piya creates a hierarchy of different jobs, Kanai recognizes that there's a hierarchy of different forms of language. His discovery that there was no money (and by extension, value) in poetry suggests that Nirmal, who loved poetry, was fighting a losing battle as he sought to teach and promote language that wasn't perceived as valuable.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
Idealism and Theory vs. Practicality and Action Theme Icon
Kanai says that while he might want to translate literature at some point, he likes running an office, having money, and meeting interesting women. Piya doesn't quite know what to do with his comment about meeting women and escapes upstairs.
It's worth noting that Kanai seems overly comfortable in his position; this sets him up to rediscover that there may be more to translating literature than just money.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
The Human Cost of Environmental Conservation Theme Icon
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