Life of Pi

by: Yann Martel

Part Two: Chapters 43–47

Summary Part Two: Chapters 43–47

Summary

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.