The Hungry Tide

The Hungry Tide


Amitav Ghosh

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Themes and Colors
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
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Hungry Tide, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.


The Hungry Tide follows Piya, an American-Indian cetologist (a scientist who studies marine mammals) and Kanai, a Delhi-based translator, as they visit the Sundarbans, an archipelago of islands in the Bay of Bengal. Piya is there to study the endangered Orcaella river dolphin; Kanai is visiting his aunt, Nilima, for the first time in forty years after the unexpected discovery of a packet of what are thought to be writings left to…

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Man vs. Nature

The Hungry Tide takes place in the Sundarbans, the archipelago of islands that forms the Ganges Delta. The islands of the Sundarbans vary in size from tiny spits of land to landmasses of considerable size, though they're constantly made and remade by the ever-changing tides and regularly occurring cyclones. The islands and rivers are covered in mangrove forests that shelter man-eating crocodiles, snakes, and Bengal tigers, all of which constantly threaten the lives of…

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The Human Cost of Environmental Conservation

While The Hungry Tide grapples primarily with the conflict between man and nature (in which man is relatively helpless in the face of dangerous natural forces), it also explores the conflicts that arise when people with power take it upon themselves to preserve and protect the natural world from overfishing, poaching, and the general spread of civilization on previously wild land. Though Piya, as a cetologist (a scientist who studies marine mammals), begins the…

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Idealism and Theory vs. Practicality and Action

Upon returning to Lusibari for the first time since he was a child, Kanai receives a packet left to him by his late uncle Nirmal, a dreamy, idealistic Communist who became involved in the 1979 Morichjhãpi conflict, much to his wife Nilima's chagrin. Unlike her husband, Nilima took it upon herself to work with the government to form the Babadon Trust, which sought to provide much-needed services to locals in a way her…

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