The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh: Human & Nature

Article Posted in: Research Articles

Existence and Coexistence of Human and Nature In Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide

By – R. Vidhya (introduction at the end of the paper), Vol. III, Issue. XXVI, March 2017



Nature and literature have always shared a close relationship as is evidenced in the works of poets and other writers down the ages in almost all cultures of the world. Today the intimate relationship between the natural and social world is being analyzed and emphasized in all departments of knowledge and development. The study at representations at nature in literary works and at the relationship between literature and the environment. The transformation in the social and cultural environments of the world have completely changed the representations at man’s attitude towards nature in literary expressions. Contemporary critical theory has facilitated the possibility at considering the world as a text and author as one who empathizes with and absorbs the various narratives that lie embedded in it. A writer like Amitav Ghosh who conducts extensive research for the novels he writer, can be expected to be deeply influenced by the findings at his research. The Hungry Tide novel narrater a very adventure and improbable love, identity and history set in one of the most beguiling regions on the earth. One of the main goals of this paper is to study how individuals in society behave and react in relation to nature and ecological aspects. The novel forges a prominent concern about the survival of an ecologically balanced like the sundarbans and it also documents. The plight of the impoverished and homeless refugees in their fertile surroundings to ensure their survival.


Amitav Ghosh, born on July 11, 1956, is an Indian – Bangali author known for his work in the English Language. He was educated at The Doon School and St. Stephen’s college Delhi. Later in his academic life, he was awarded a D.Phil. in social anthropology. His first job was at the Indian Express  Newspaper in New Delhi. Amitav Ghosh is an important writer at present times who bears numerous mantles of responsibility in the world of the book case. Anthropologist, Sociologist, Journalist, Novelist, Essayist, Travel Writer and Teacher. His writing reflects recent concerns of social anthropology with the porosity at cultural boundaries. Moreover, there is a certain presence at words in his novels relating to mystery, discovery and related issues at knowing the unknown, Ghosh is one of the trinity after V.S.Naipaul and Salman Rushdie who popularized the genre at Indian Writing in English. Brind a Bose rightly observes that Ghosh

  “Keen understanding – and rendering of the

Political historical, sociological and cultural

Sensibility that sets him apart from the cluch of

Indian novelists in English that are springing

From the woodwork ever since Rushdie

immortalized the genre”

Ghosh in The Hungry Tide flips the theoretical underpinnings of the postmodern debate. His purpose is not merely to deconstruct the binary that holds home and homelessness as counterpoints, but to unite them as parts at an integrated whole. In deconstruction elements rarely add up into a united, comprehensive whole, Rather, an artistic creation exposed to deconstructive strategy stands as a house divided against itself. Ghosh works by a method that can be called deconstructive but then his ostensible objective is to create an independent discourse the ephemeral home at the river dolphins stands as the perpetual backdrop against which The Hungry Tide writes its mythical story.

The Hungry Tide is a 2005 novel by Indian author Amitav Ghosh. Taking place in the aftermath of the devastating 2004 Tsunami in the Indian Ocean that devastated the entire area, The Hungry Tide takes place primarily in the Sundarbans, a massive mangrove forest that is split between West Bengal in India and Bangladesh. Containing tigers, crocodiles, and various other predators, it serves as a dramatic backdrop for Ghosh’s story of the environment, faith, class structure, and the complex history of India in terms of colonialism and sectarian conflict. Like all of Ghosh’s novels, The Hungry Tide contains a wide array of characters and settings that intersect throughout the novel.

The story begins when Kanai Dutt, a wealthy translator and businessman, comes to the Sundabarans to visit his aunt – as well as to investigate a journal that was written by his deceased uncle and was only recently rediscovered. While in transit, he encounters Piya Roy, an American scientist of Indian descent who specializes in marine mammals. She has come to the island to investigate sightings of the rare Irrawaddy Dolphin. This unusual animal is one of the few creatures to be able to survive in both freshwater and saltwater. The two bond during their conversation on the train, and Kanai extends an invitation to Piya to visit him at his aunt’s house. Although she is courteous to him, Piya has no real intention of following through with this, and the two part ways when they arrive at the train station.

When Piya reaches the Sundabarans, she begins a battle against the local bureaucracy as she attempts to get approval to conduct her research. Although the local authorities eventually grant her approval, they will only do so if she takes their boat, complete with local observers to keep an eye on her. In their search, they encounter a local fisherman, Fokir. Fokir claims to have seen the Irrawaddy dolphin recently. As she converses with the local man, she gets distracted and falls into the water, nearly drowning. While her official entourage is unconcerned, Fokir immediately dives in and rescues her.

This leads Piya to dismiss the official entourage and instead choose to tour the area on Fokir’s boat. While on the boat, she meets Fokir’s son, Tutul, who helps his father with his trade. Despite a language barrier between Piya and the two locals, they work well together and Fokir takes Piya to where she can observe the dolphins. Upon the conclusion of their research, Piya and Fokir head back to the town of Lusibari, where Kanai has been staying with his aunt. Since he arrived, Kanai has been occupied by his uncle’s journal. The journal recounts the story of the old man’s life, with a focus on the conflict between government forces and thousands of refugees on the Sundabaran’s nature preserve in the 1970s. It turns out that the two groups are tied together, as Piya is surprised to find out that Fokir and his family are friends of Kanai’s family. After Piya explains her research plans, Kanai and his family agree to help out, providing more boats and crew. However, it soon becomes clear that Kanai is jealous of Piya’s growing closeness with Fokir, and he insists on coming along to serve as a translator as well.

The expedition is going well at first, but soon they court disaster when Fokir and Piya split off from the group, taking their smaller boat to search some of the hidden canals of the jungle. While they are out, the rest of the crew gets word that a major storm is bearing down on the site. Although they wait as long as they can for them to return, Kanai and his crew are eventually forced to make the difficult decision to head back without them, leaving Piya and Fokir stranded out in the storm. Fokir attempts to get them back to port, but the storm is too powerful, forcing them to take refuge in the Mangrove forest.

During the storm, Fokir does his best to shield them both, but eventually, he is killed by flying debris. Piya survives against the odds, and manages to return the boat to Lusibari and notify Fokir’s family of his fate and heroism. She leaves the Sundabarans to stay with family in Calcutta, but returns a month later having raised money to support Fokir’s family. She also establishes a research foundation to study the Irrawaddy dolphin, which she names after Fokir in honor of all his help in her research.

The modern world is full of contrast coming together in the life and character of man. In this Globalized world where distances have been reduced to a naught, cultures, languages race, belief have come together representing a fusion of a variety of contrasts being integral to life are also inherent in human emotions. Amitav Ghosh a prominent diasporic writer at this contemporary era has very beautifully and sensitively depicted this play at emotions in their contrasting shades in his novel The Hungry Tide. These contrasting strands of emotions have been portrayed by the author in their varying positive and negative hues through an expert delineation at characters and incidents in the narrative. Taking inspiration from the very landscape of Sundarbans also known as the “Tide Country”.

“Ghosh has vividly represented the presence of contract

of human emotions the resulting contradictions and complexities

arising thereof and how life reaches an ultimate resolution by

an awareness and realization of true emotions and the true self”.

Ghosh’s selections at the sundarbans as the setting at The Hungry Tide is apt to represent the contrast inherent in life as well as in emotions. The contrasts are not only portrayed through the charactors and incidents but also by geographical description of the place. The Sundarbans is a archipelago at ever changing is lands. Situated below Calcutta on the gulf between India and Bangladesh. There is no line demarcating the fresh water and salt water river and sea and even between the land and water like the Mohana in Sundarbans which is the confluence at streams life is also a Mohana where different emotions, mingle at one point. This confluence at emotions present in man’s life has been beautifully represented by Amitav Ghosh novel “Sinha” rightly remarks.

“It is a which speaks of life and the challenges associated

with love and its egalitarian belief and above all of human spirit.

In The Hungry Tide he explores a new territory not just of

mangroves land but also at human spirit. It puts together

 various characters from different periods against the

 pleasing background Sundarbans” (Sinha 2007, 122)

Like the varied flowers that beautifies nature varied emotions enhances the beauty of human life. Different Shades of emotions are portrayed through the major and minor characters in the  novel representing the depth inherent in life as well as in the characters themselves. Man being a supreme creation of God, has intellect to think and heart of feel emotions. It is emotions that influence the thinking processes of man contributing to the development of prejudices and complexes in one’s nature.

 “The contemporary attempts to determine in a logical way the nature at existence by constructing a logic at existence by, constructing a logic at existence. The nature at existence as the fundamental problem of ontology.


“The potential for relationships between states and

 the potential for relationships among groups with the

states where in fact most current violent conflicts take

place. A redefined definition because essential as the

need positively”.

The growing diversity within states became a key challenge faced by state leaders and communities across the globe.

The Hungry Tide reveals the social anthropological concerns of Ghosh in using “History, Ecology, Cetology, Ethology, Geology, Science, religion and Myth”. He combinas several roles that of novelist, anthropologist, journalist scholar and histories. The Hungry Tide weaves together a wide variety of genres narrative modes and voices that the novel opens out in several directions intersexuality. Ghush elaborates the inter – cultural cross – cultural relations and the Micro – Society at the tide country with its ecosystem bioregion, globalization one of the novels features of this novel is that Ghush provides the components at the narrative. “The protecting goddess at the Tide country serve as a model at religious syncretism where religious and cultural difference dissolve.


Works cited:

  1. Amitav Ghosh The Hungry Tide (New Delhi: Harper Collins publishers India 2006)
  2. Sunita Sinha Amitav Ghosh : The Hungry Tide
  3. K.Dhawan(ed.) in Introduction The novels at Amitav Ghosh, prestige books. Delhi 1999 p.11.
  4. Bhuddhadeb, R.Choudhary, Images at Home in Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide in Nigamanda, Das (ed.) Contemporary Indian writing in English, Trend, Concepts publishers New Delhi 2007.
  5. C.Hawley contemporary Indian writers in English, Amitav Ghosh foundation New Delhi 2005.


R. Vidhya is an M. Phil student and she is interested in writing for magazines and journals. She is also a humanitarian.

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