The Hungry Tide

The Hungry Tide


Amitav Ghosh

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Gamchhas Symbol Analysis

Gamchhas Symbol Icon

Gamchhas, which are small pieces of cloth used in India as towels, symbolize one’s connection to people, places, and cultures. Piya's father, despite expressing no interest in remaining connected to his Indian roots after moving to Seattle, refuses to throw his away, even though it looks moldy and disgusting after years of use. Thus, holding onto his gamchhas keeps him connected to his home in one small way. As Piya relearns the word itself and uses gamchhas provided to her by Fokir, she becomes more connected to her own Indian roots and to Fokir. Later, gamchhas become very literal means of staying connected to life itself, as Kusum's father uses a gamchha to help tie himself and his uncle to a tree during a cyclone.

Gamchhas Quotes in The Hungry Tide

The The Hungry Tide quotes below all refer to the symbol of Gamchhas. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Language Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Mariner Books edition of The Hungry Tide published in 2006.
Part 1: Words Quotes

How do you lose a word? Does it vanish into your memory like an old toy in a chest, and lie hidden in the cobwebs and dust, waiting to be cleaned out or rediscovered?

Related Characters: Piya Roy, Fokir, Piya's Father
Related Symbols: Gamchhas
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:
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Gamchhas Symbol Timeline in The Hungry Tide

The timeline below shows where the symbol Gamchhas appears in The Hungry Tide. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: At Anchor
Language Theme Icon
The Human Cost of Environmental Conservation Theme Icon
...he dove in after her. Finally she remembers why the cloth (later revealed as a gamchha) looks familiar: Piya’s father had one, and it was the only thing from India he... (full context)
Part 1: Words
Language Theme Icon
Idealism and Theory vs. Practicality and Action Theme Icon sharing any Bengali words with her. Finally, he tells her the cloth is called gamchha. Piya thinks that once, Bengali was a violent language for her—her parents fought in Bengali,... (full context)
Part 2: Destiny
Language Theme Icon
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Idealism and Theory vs. Practicality and Action Theme Icon
...Kusum's father was caught in a storm. He tied himself to a tree with his gamchha on Garjontola. After the storm passed, he did hear a tiger's roar, but he dreamed... (full context)
Part 2: Casualties
Language Theme Icon
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
...pulled himself and his uncle into the tree and tied them to it with their gamchhas to ride out the storm. (full context)