The Hungry Tide

The Hungry Tide

by

Amitav Ghosh

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The Hungry Tide: Part 2: Leaving Lusibari Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Kanai and Piya take their bags down to the embankment on a rickshaw, but are held up when the driver points to something happening at the bãdh. They go to inspect and find Fokir and Tutul on their boat, reeling in a stingray. They haul it into the boat, where Fokir kills it in front of a cheering crowd. He cuts off the tail to give to Tutul and then sells the ray to a fish seller. As Tutul admires his toy, Moyna angrily pushes her way through the crowd and begins to yell at Fokir about the importance of sending Tutul to school. She wrenches the tail from Tutul, throws it out into the river, and leads him crying to school. Moyna catches Kanai's eyes on her way past, and Fokir notices.
Tutul is clearly having a great time with Fokir working as a fisherman; this suggests that he, like his father, has the river in his veins already and doesn't have much interest in pursuing a way of life more in line with Moyna's priorities. Though it's important to consider Moyna's assertion that fishermen won't have jobs in fifteen years, it's also worth noting that Fokir stands to earn far more from working with Piya than in any other line of work. This suggests that there can indeed be economic gain to locals through conservation efforts.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
The Human Cost of Environmental Conservation Theme Icon
The Megha pulls away a little later, towing Fokir in his boat behind. Kanai sits on deck, watching Piya watch the water despite the wind and blinding glare. They sight a Gangetic dolphin around midmorning, and Piya happily explains to Kanai that there are certainly fewer dolphins now than there used to be. Kanai mentions that Nirmal felt the same way. Later, Kanai remarks that he'd be bored to tears doing what Piya does. She agrees with him and says that meeting Fokir was amazing, as he somehow seems able to watch the water all the time. Piya says she hopes to work with him again and is actually thinking she may stay in the Sundarbans for years. Kanai is shocked she'd want to stay, but Piya insists that working with Fokir is extraordinary. 
Though Piya thinks of herself as unambitious, it's interesting to compare her to Nirmal in this situation. While Nirmal simply noticed there was less wildlife and made note of it, Piya—despite her professed lack of ambition—notes the same thing and through her work, is taking active steps to do something about it.
Themes
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Idealism and Theory vs. Practicality and Action Theme Icon
Envious, Kanai notes that Fokir and Piya can't even talk to each other, and he reminds Piya flatly that there's nothing in common between them. He laughs at the thought of Fokir boarding a plane. In Bengali, Fokir yells that he saw a crocodile. Kanai translates and points out that Piya wouldn't have understood without him there to translate, but she coldly walks away. Later, Kanai watches her work again and is struck by her attention. It reminds him of his own youthful desire to learn language, and he thinks that that desire is now made flesh in Piya.
Kanai's envy and tone here reveals clearly that he's uninterested in viewing Fokir as a full person worthy of someone's affections. On the other hand, he also sees himself as the only man on board worthy of female affection, though he seems unaware that his self-importance is exactly what makes Piya feel entirely uninterested in him.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
The Human Cost of Environmental Conservation Theme Icon