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Life of Pi

Yann Martel


Part Two: Chapters 43–47

page 1 of 2


Pi imagines that the alert has gone out about the sinking of the Tsimtsum and that help is on the way. The hyena whines, but the animals are otherwise quiet. Pi tries to make his spot on the tarpaulin as safe as possible, throwing the net over the middle, but there is almost no barrier between him and the animals. The hyena begins to act strangely, jumping up onto a bench and looking into the water, then racing around the zebra over and over again. Finally the hyena vomits and nestles into a small space just behind the zebra, where it remains for a time. The zebra remains silent.

Daylight begins to fade and Pi contemplates the coming night with horror. In the dark, a rescue ship won’t be able to spot him, and the animals might attack him. Night falls. It is cloudy and there is no moon, so the darkness is complete. Pi hears snarls coming from the hyena and barks from the zebra, as well as “wet mouth sounds.” Still, the animals do not come near him. He hears sounds from under the boat and notes that the animals in the water are also battling for life.

After that first full night in the lifeboat, the sun rises, and Pi’s thoughts turn to rescue and seeing his family again. But when he looks into the lifeboat, he sees an appalling sight: the hyena has bitten off the zebra’s broken leg and is eating it. The zebra is alive, still silent but grinding its teeth.

Pi feels queasy. He sees Orange Juice near the boat’s gunnel, panting with seasickness, and laughs at the orangutan’s humanlike demeanor. She looks out at the water. Upon reflection, he finds it strange that Orange Juice remains unhurt by the hyena. Pi fantasizes about a zoo enclosure in which orangutans and hyenas live together peacefully and contentedly. A sea turtle bumps against the hull of the boat; Pi tells it to go find help, and the turtle slips back down into the sea.

Pi notices that the water around the boat is full of mako sharks and other fish. Orange Juice sits up and looks around at the open water; Pi realizes she is looking for her two sons the same way that Pi has been searching the horizon for his family. Pi is devastated.

Suddenly the hyena attacks the zebra, pulling off a large expanse of its hide and then sliding headfirst into its side, eating it alive from the inside. Orange Juice roars in protest and the hyena howls back. The two animals engage in a fierce standoff while the zebra fades. Some blood falls over the side of the boat, and sharks begin to circle and bump the hull. Pi fears that they will break the boat, causing it to sink, but soon the standoff between the hyena and orangutan ends, and the sharks swim away. Horrified and scared, Pi admits to himself that his family has likely perished. As he sinks deeper into his grief, the hyena continues to eat.

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Symbolism of The Algae Island

by davidtoc, December 30, 2012

Quick summary:

Pi's lifeboat = faith
Island = Religion
Sea and Sun = harsh realities of real life, scrutinizing your faith
Trees = clergy/priests/rabbis/imams, etc.
Meerkats = followers of religion

The overall message of the chapter is that although religion (organized faith) can aid us and stabilize us and nourish us spiritually in the short term, it is not a viable long-term answer to our spiritual questions, and will ultimately kill us mentally and spiritually.

Pi discovers the island when "


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Overview: The Question

by MitziDadford, May 29, 2013

Pi, who is named for an irrational idea that is used to pose and solve scientific whims, presents two parallel stories--he describes as one's perception of the world--to explain his survival on the Pacific for a remarkable 227 days. This is itself a momentous reflection of one's theological beliefs. This novel promises to make one believe in God, and it does. The animal story, with its far-fetched aspects, is much more difficult for the investigators to believe than the human story, as Pi says clearly annoyed, they want a story they already ... Read more


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Essay Topics

by jas777g, June 04, 2013

Truth vs. Fact
Will to survive

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