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Life of Pi

Yann Martel

Part Two: Chapters 58–62

Part Two: Chapters 48–57

Part Two: Chapters 63–80

Summary

Pi dries off and reads the survivor manual he has found in the lifeboat locker. He realizes that he needs to fish and create a shelter from the elements. Thirsty and hungry, he decides to go back to the lifeboat. He pulls up in the raft, cautiously, and sees that Richard Parker has marked his territory by spraying urine across the bottom of the boat. Pi drinks water from a puddle on the boat and urinates on the locker lid and tarpaulin, marking his own territory.

Next, Pi discovers twelve solar stills—devices that transform salt water into fresh water through a process of evaporation—and sets them up in the water. He then makes improvements to his raft. He carves an oar and turns it into a mast, hangs a blanket as a canopy, and adds a life vest to the floor of the raft. Pi enjoys a dinner of rations in the raft, and Richard Parkers looks on from the lifeboat, making the prusten sound once more. Pi looks down at the ocean and sees that it is full of life in many forms.

Pi tries to fish using a leather shoe as bait, but it doesn’t work very well. He climbs aboard the lifeboat in search of better bait, only to be interrupted by a school of flying fish from the ocean. Some hit Pi and Richard Parker; some fall into the boat; some jump over the hull and fly clear to the other side and back into the water. Richard Parker eats his fill and Pi sets out to kill one himself. A lifelong vegetarian and pacifist, Pi hesitates and then cries when he finally breaks the fish’s neck with his hands.

Later, Pi manages to land a three-foot-long dorado, which he kills and feeds to Richard Parker. He has come to terms with the necessity of killing his food to stay alive. Having fed himself and Richard Parker, Pi checks the solar stills, not believing they will actually have worked to produce fresh water. In fact, they have, and Pi drinks heartily from one of the twelve stills. He empties the rest into a bucket for Richard Parker. As the day ends, Pi realizes it has been a week since the ship sunk.

Analysis

Although manmade tools make survival easier, Pi remains reliant on nature. The survival items Pi finds in the lifeboat, in particular the solar stills, help Pi quench his thirst, though he still struggles in feeding himself and Richard Parker. Pi’s first attempt at fishing is a decided failure; the rudimentary hook and bait he puts together don’t quite do the trick. A fluke of nature—the sudden appearance of a school of flying fish—results in his first catch. The juxtaposition of the solar stills and the fish that literally jump right into Pi’s lifeboat seems to be Martel’s way of saying that man cannot completely separate himself from and be independent of nature.

Martel begins to lower Pi’s humanity a notch, bringing him closer and closer to an animal’s existence. Pi’s behavior starts to mimic Richard Parker’s: he uses his urine to delineate his territory and acts furtive and stealthy. Imitation is a method of self-preservation: adapting to the behavior of his wild companion keeps him relatively safe. But even as Pi descends bit by bit into his innate feralness, his humanity resists. He considers drinking his urine (as the hyena would have done) but does not, and he hesitates before killing the flying fish—certainly a different response from Richard Parker’s. The strict demarcation between human civility and animal behavior blurs under these circumstances, but it is not completely lost.

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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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The algae island

by abuyi, March 15, 2013

They are two versions of the story. The one with animals which reprsents the humans and the one with out animals, in both versions pi narates his experience symbolising his journey and the events that took place with in. In the version of animal; Pi reprsent himself as the bengal tiger as the animal and his humanity as himself trying to tame the animal. In human version, there are only 4 survivors on the boat but with the animals there were 5. The whole journey in each version are parallel to each other .

The island symbolizes Pi' mot... Read more

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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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