The Hungry Tide

The Hungry Tide

by

Amitav Ghosh

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The Hungry Tide: Part 2: Words Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Kanai forgets about dinner as he reads. He's suddenly plunged into darkness when the generator goes out, but Moyna promptly arrives with a candle. As she tries to light the kerosene lamp, her hand slips, and she drops her candle and breaks the lamp. As they clean up, Moyna says she's glad that Kanai is going on the expedition so that Piya and Fokir won't be alone. She asks Kanai to talk to Fokir about Piya, and make sure he knows that she's leaving soon. Kanai doesn't quite understand what Moyna is getting at, but Moyna reminds him that he has the power to shape what they say to each other as a translator. Moyna implies she's worried about a sexual relationship, but Kanai suggests that Piya would choose him over Fokir.
Moyna clearly understands that as someone who can bridge the gap between languages, Kanai can shape words to mean and say what he wants them to and not what they actually mean. This does, however, ignore the fact that Fokir and Piya have thus far been able to communicate just fine without a shared language, suggesting that Kanai may have less power to actually do anything about their budding romance than Moyna would clearly like.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
Idealism and Theory vs. Practicality and Action Theme Icon
Kanai asks who Moyna would choose—him or Fokir—but Moyna just insists that she cannot talk to Fokir herself, even if she is his wife. She insists that only an outsider can talk to him. Kanai tries to provoke Moyna and asks if she'd be interested in being with a different kind of man, which angers Moyna; she says that she's sure Kanai does this with every woman he meets. As she leaves, she wishes him luck with Piya.
When Kanai provokes Moyna, it shows again that he doesn't necessarily see women as independent beings, especially given that he repeatedly ignores her signals that she's uninterested in pursuing this line of questioning.
Themes
Language Theme Icon
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon