Literature Study GuidesLife Of PiPart 2 Chapters 40 42 Summary

Life of Pi | Study Guide

Yann Martel

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Life of Pi | Part 2, Chapters 40–42 : The Pacific Ocean | Summary

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Summary

Part 2, Chapter 40

Pi is now in the water, having jumped off the lifeboat to escape Richard Parker as readers saw in Part 2, Chapter 37. He sees a shark in the water and pushes an oar onto the boat's tarpaulin to get himself above the surface. Richard Parker, the tiger, is in the lifeboat under the tarpaulin. Holding onto the oar, Pi floats safely through the night.

Part 2, Chapter 41

Pi watches the cargo ship sink completely and scans his surroundings for survivors or rescuers. He figures he's safe from the tiger below the tarpaulin if he stays out of Richard Parker's vision. The zebra, still on the boat, has a broken leg. Pi can't believe the zebra has survived Richard Parker's presence—until he notices the hyena. A hyena and a tiger can't share such a small space. He also realizes the ship's crew members threw the hyena overboard from the sinking ship, hoping it would kill Pi and save space for themselves in the lifeboat.

The weather changes quickly. It is now sunny and warm on the Pacific Ocean. Pi looks around again for other lifeboats but sees none.

Part 2, Chapter 42

Pi is happy to see the zoo's prized Borneo orangutan, Orange Juice, floating toward him on "an island of bananas." He knows he and Orange Juice will both die soon, but he's glad for the company. Orange Juice is surrounded by spiders and traveling on a nylon net. Pi says the net will later become one of his most precious possessions. He will also deeply regret not taking any of the bananas when he had the chance. Orange Juice joins him on the lifeboat.

Analysis

To save himself Pi relies first on his animal instincts, then on his brain. He admits he would have drowned if he considered his situation in "the light of reason" but he held on through faith, and "God only knows why." He needs both faith and reason to survive, however. When he uses reason as a tool for his benefit, it won't make him lose hope; it will save him instead.

Part 2, Chapter 40 begins to focus on water as a destructive power: "forbidding, beautiful and dangerous." The water is "black and cold and in a rage"—an enemy to be defeated. Sharks are introduced, and they'll resurface.

Martel has said he wanted to portray three human traits in the three animals initially on the lifeboat with Pi and Richard Parker. The hyena represents "cowardliness," the zebra "exoticism," while the orangutan, Orange Juice, stands for "maternal instincts." Orange Juice, in the color Pi associates with salvation and survival, is bathed in light like a religious vision. The image is so allegorical and symbolic Japanese officials will challenge its truth much later by saying bananas don't float. Orange Juice is clearly maternal as the "Great Mother" and "Pondicherry fertility goddess." Even the spiders gather around her like "malevolent worshippers."

Pi recognizes another human trait in Part 2, Chapter 41: self-preservation to the point of depravity. The crew members were trying to kill him. He's more concerned with the hyena, who has no moral code and no reason not to kill. Its scream indicates things will soon turn for the worse.

Pi is about to begin a true adventure, though not one he would have chosen—one complete with risks and decisions between fear and reason. He will travel "around the world in eighty swells," a reference to Jules Verne's adventure story Around the World in Eighty Days.

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