The Hungry Tide

The Hungry Tide

by

Amitav Ghosh

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The Hungry Tide: Part 2: The Megha Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In the morning, Kanai notices that Horen looks just like he remembers, though he's older and looks distinguished now. He and Kanai greet each other, and Horen gestures to his grandson, Nogen, who will accompany them. Horen leads Piya to the bhotbhoti, which is called the Megha. Horen extols the boat's virtues and reliability. Piya is willing to engage Horen, but asks how the Megha will do tracking dolphins through narrow creeks. Horen replies that Fokir's boat will come too. They quickly agree on payment and make preparations to leave.
The necessity of taking two boats in order to successfully carry out Piya's survey shows again how difficult it is for humans to appropriately navigate the natural world. In addition, even with the proper transportation, the group is still extremely vulnerable to natural events.
Themes
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Kanai goes to Nilima and tells her that he's going away with Piya. He promises to keep Nirmal's notebook safe and explains that they'll be going into the jungle. Nilima seems somewhat alarmed. She stands up and tells him that it's extremely dangerous out there—tigers pick off several people weekly. She shows Kanai her unofficial records of tiger attacks, which record about 100 deaths per year on the Indian side of the Sundarbans. Kanai was unaware, and Nilima says that's exactly the problem since the authorities won't admit that there's a problem.
Despite living entirely on Lusibari, Nilima's concern shows that she still understands how dangerous the world outside of the island is. Her records indicate that she clearly cares for the people of the Sundarbans, and recognizes that one of the ways to possibly make things better is to record that there's a problem. In this way, her record keeping mirrors Nirmal's notebook.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
The Human Cost of Environmental Conservation Theme Icon
Idealism and Theory vs. Practicality and Action Theme Icon
Nilima pulls a file down and reads that between 1860 and 1866, 4,218 people were killed by tigers. Kanai wants to know why, but Nilima can't answer. She says that the tigers in tide country are possibly more aggressive than those in mainland India, but none of the proposed ways of curbing attacks have been successful. Nilima admits she's never seen one in 50 years and doesn't want to, and she says that being on a bhotbhoti won't help—tigers regularly attack boats midstream and can swim eight miles nonstop. Kanai insists he has an actual reason to go, but when Nilima realizes he's interested in Piya, she bitterly accuses him of being a predator worse than a tiger. She tells him to be careful and shows him out.
Nilima's accusation again drives home that in the fight between man and nature, women must fight both men and nature. When she unearths old records, it shows that she's not the first person to recognize the power of recording such a thing so that people in power understand the magnitude of the problem. However, the fact that nothing has happened points again to the fact that the people in the Sundarbans are poor and therefore, less valuable in the eyes of powerful politicians.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
The Human Cost of Environmental Conservation Theme Icon
Idealism and Theory vs. Practicality and Action Theme Icon