The Hungry Tide

The Hungry Tide

by

Amitav Ghosh

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The Hungry Tide: Part 2: Interrogations Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Horen, Fokir, Kanai, and Piya make it back to the Megha by dawn and start off immediately—Horen doesn't want to get caught up in the police action that's sure to follow a tiger killing. A while later, Kanai finds Piya leaning on the rail. It's clear she's been crying, and he tries to tell her that they couldn't have done anything. Piya tells Kanai that he was right; she and Fokir have nothing in common. She expected him to be different, even though she understands why he participated in the tiger killing.
Though the novel doesn't say outright, there's a total ban on killing tigers in the Sundarbans in an effort to try to preserve the species, which is endangered. When Piya decides that she and Fokir have nothing at all in common, she does choose to ignore the fact that he seems just as interested and knowledgeable about the dolphins as she is.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Idealism and Theory vs. Practicality and Action Theme Icon
An hour later, a boat of forest guards pulls up by the Megha. Kanai sends Piya to her cabin for safety, as she's foreign and doesn't have the correct permit. Piya doesn't argue and lies there for more than an hour. After the guards leave, Kanai tells Piya that the forest service heard that a foreigner was at the village where the tiger was killed, and they likely don't want the news to get out. He even had to pay off the guards when they recognized Fokir as being associated with Piya. Kanai encourages Piya to turn back, but she insists she has to stay as long as she can.
The forest department's desire to not have the news of the tiger killing get out suggests that they're well aware of the fear and anger that the locals feel in regards to the tigers, but they don't want to have to acknowledge that there's a problem—again, likely because the victims aren't wealthy.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
The Human Cost of Environmental Conservation Theme Icon
Idealism and Theory vs. Practicality and Action Theme Icon
At midday, Piya sits next to Kanai, looking troubled. She explains that she's still horrified by the tiger killing, but she recognizes that it's probably a normal part of life for people like Horen and Fokir. She suggests that those two are part of the horror, which makes Kanai sit up. He says that he and Piya are part of the horror as well—tigers kill people with such frequency, it would be called genocide if it happened anywhere else. In the Sundarbans, however, the residents are too poor to garner interest or sympathy. He says that people like himself and Piya want to protect wildlife at the cost of poor people affected by those efforts.
When Kanai forces Piya to at least hear that she's part of the problem, he asks her to recognize that conservation efforts aren't a clear force for good. In the Sundarbans, those conservation efforts are part of the reason the Morichjhãpi massacre happened in the first place, and it's the reason too why the forest guard in the beginning sought to fine and intimidate Fokir.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
The Human Cost of Environmental Conservation Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Piya insists it's important to preserve animals in their natural habitats, as deciding it's fine to kill them will only lead to killing certain groups of people. Kanai retorts that Piya's not the one dying for animal conservation, though she insists she would. When Kanai declares that saying such a thing is easy, Piya insists her life isn't at all easy. Kanai apologizes.
While Piya's logic makes some pretty significant leaps, it does suggest that she'll struggle to reconcile Kanai's explanation with her own beliefs. It also suggests that she does care for people, but only when caring for humans doesn't impede conservation efforts.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
The Human Cost of Environmental Conservation Theme Icon
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