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The Hungry Tide


The Hungry Tide, written by Amitav Ghosh, is based upon the lives and struggles of the people living in the tiny Islands of Sunderbans that are near the Bay of Bengal and stretch to the woods where beautiful beasts like tigers live. The locals are constantly threatened by the existence of these animals that can kill them. The novel highlights several incidents to serve its purpose of describing the exotic lifestyle of the native Sunderbans. It depicts the beautiful, colorful, and exciting lives of the people living in these Islands, which is a thrilling experience for the readers (Ghosh). With the concepts of Badabon trust, the preservation of the environment through Piya’s research aims, and shedding light upon the incidents of the Morichjhanpi Massacre, Amitav Ghosh creates an interdisciplinary narrative of the life, ethics, history, and culture of Bengal.

Bon Bibi: The Badabon Trust

Bon Bibi, known as the jungle lady, lived in the forest and looked after it to preserve and protect the beautiful nature from invaders. The forest was near a village situated on the border of India and Bangladesh, where the Hindu and Muslim communities all respected Bon Bibi and put trust in her abilities (Ghosh).

She was well known for welcoming the honey collectors as the forest was rich with honey bees and the woodcutters who would ask for her expertise on the protection against the attacks of the tigers. The people trusted the practices of the Jungle Lady to the extent that they associated her with religious and spiritual divinity, which forbade the forest animals to attack in the presence of any locals.

Piya, a Marine Biologist

Piya is one of the lead characters in the novel. She is an Indian-American who specializes in marine biology and is here in the town of Sundarban to study a rare species of Dolphins, i.e., the Irrawaddy Dolphins. Throughout the story, Piya is shown to be focused on her work and research study of the dolphins.

She ends up being good friends with Kanai and Fokir, who also help her familiarize herself with the local dolphins found in the ocean near the Island. Even though Piya Roy belongs to India, she has very little knowledge about the place and the culture, as she has spent most of her life in Seattle (Ghosh).

She is surprised by the culture and behaviors of the native people and finds herself as a foreigner in her motherland. Nevertheless, she focuses on her goal to study the decline in the number of rare species of Dolphins with the help of her friends, the locals, and her own hunger of curiosity. Piya’s aim becomes one of the main themes of the novel, i.e., the study of the Irrawaddy Dolphin and the reason for their inevitable extinction.

Morichjhanpi Massacre

Amitav Ghosh, in his book, throws light upon the tragedy of the Morichjhanpi incident, which is one of the most horrific incidents highlighted in the novel. The massacre is described from the viewpoint of a common man, which gives the reader an insight into the pain, struggles, anger, and humiliation of the people of East Bengal who had settled on the island of Morichijhanpi as refugees (Krishnendu).

The partition had already caused a problem for the people of East Bengal and resulted in the loss of many innocent lives. After violating the Forest Preservation Act, the refugees are faced with horrific consequences from the government. They were first cut off the food supplies, leading to a severe shortage, and then attacked violently by the police, which resulted in mass killings of the Islanders. Forty to forty-five thousand refugees were forcefully evacuated from the region, adopting harsh policies (Weik).

Works Cited

Ghosh, Amitav. The hungry tide. Penguin Books India, 2000.

Krishnendu, Mukherjee. “A “Hungry Tide”: The Legal Response to Climate Change Adaptation, 2008.” (2010).

Weik, Alexa. “The home, the tide, and the world: eco-cosmopolitan encounters in Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide.” Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies Vol 13.14.1 (2006): 2006-2007.



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