Course Hero. "Life of Pi Study Guide." Course Hero. 12 Dec. 2016. Web. 4 June 2023. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Life-of-Pi/>.
Course Hero. (2016, December 12). Life of Pi Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 4, 2023, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Life-of-Pi/
(Course Hero, 2016)
Course Hero. "Life of Pi Study Guide." December 12, 2016. Accessed June 4, 2023. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Life-of-Pi/.
Course Hero, "Life of Pi Study Guide," December 12, 2016, accessed June 4, 2023, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Life-of-Pi/.
Pi's first time butchering a turtle is a challenge. He gathers the blood to drink himself, then tosses the rest of the turtle to Richard Parker, who consumes it quickly. Pi knows he must show Richard Parker who's boss. Pi needs consistent access to the locker and the top of the tarpaulin, which are in Richard Parker's territory. He decides to carve out his own territory.
Pi shares the steps he takes to establish his authority over Richard Parker in the form of advice to anyone who's in his predicament. On a calm day at sea, he rouses Richard Parker and provokes an intrusion into Pi's territory. Once Richard Parker encroaches on Pi's area, Pi blows the whistle and trips the sea anchor (his lifeboat). Richard Parker begins to associate a border intrusion with seasickness. Eventually, Pi can control him with only the whistle.
To protect himself from Richard Parker during training, Pi makes a shield from a turtle shell. Richard Parker knocks Pi into the water during his first four attempts. The fifth attempt is successful. Pi knows Richard Parker doesn't want to attack him—animals avoid violence if they can.
Pi wishes for a book at sea—"a never-ending story." When he's rescued, he'll be deeply moved by the Gideon Bible in his hotel room. He will write to the Gideons and tell them to expand their reach and include sacred texts from other religions. On the lifeboat Pi keeps a diary. He compresses time in his diary; "several days, several weeks, all on one page."
At sea Pi adapts Hindu, Christian, and Muslim rituals to his unusual circumstances. Though the rituals comfort him, he finds it difficult to love in his despair. Pi reminds himself everything around him belongs to God, and he and Richard Parker have a place in creation. He's grateful even his darkest moments of despair pass.
Pi sings "Happy Birthday" to his mother on what he believes to be her birthday.
Pi cleans up after Richard Parker. When the tiger tries to hide his feces, Pi can tell the animal is nervous around him. Pi takes Richard Parker's feces in his hand and blows the whistle as an act of authority and "psychological bullying."
The rations on the boat are diminishing, so Pi restricts his food intake. He fantasizes constantly about massive amounts of food and finds live sea turtles delicious. As his rations run out, Pi eats anything he can get his hands on. He even attempts to eat Richard Parker's feces. Pi's feet and ankles swell, and his body deteriorates.
Now that the act of killing animals no longer disturbs Pi on a moral level, he becomes more serious about taking on authority with Richard Parker. He knows which life he'll put first—his own. But he still notices how the turtle he kills in Part 2, Chapter 70, like the zebra, clings to life.
The novel alters its format through list making frequently, as it does in Part 2, Chapter 71. Pi is writing his own survival manual through his account of his experience training Richard Parker. He wants to emphasize how difficult the procedure is so the reader will have no delusions about the danger of animals and the need to handle them carefully. He's also carrying on the zoo-keeping work of his father.
Pi references the psychological element of animal training. His attempt to get Richard Parker to associate the whistle with danger and seasickness recalls the scientist Pavlov's experiments, which controlled dogs with only the sound of a bell.
Even though Pi has a plan, experience on his side, and the benefit of human reason, he is still dealing with a stronger force in Richard Parker. Animals are predictable, so he expects Richard Parker to behave in a certain way, and most of the time Richard Parker does not surprise him. But occasionally he does—for instance, when he'll later jump into the water in the algae island, the last thing Pi expected him to do. Pi has already experienced plenty of the unexpected, but he'll need to prepare for more.
As Pi copes with his situation, stories and their ability to place a reader in the context of a greater world continue to give his life meaning. He is attracted to religions because of their stories. His actions after he is saved prove stories work better than traditional conversion attempts because they appeal to imagination. How did Pi tell his own story on the lifeboat? His diary, which he admits isn't interesting reading, gives a clue to his survivalist mindset and the way he no longer regards the passage of time.
There is a poetic cadence to the repetition in Part 2, Chapter 74. Pi wants to make everything around him holy. The reference to "God's Ark" is both Jewish and Christian, referring to the Ark of the Covenant in Jewish mythology. The paragraph that begins "but God's hat was always unravelling" shows Pi's use of metaphor to understand his world and the tension he feels between the human and the divine. Readers continue to see that love saves Pi: camaraderie and affection for Richard Parker and admiration for creation. Love is presented as the opposite of despair.
Part 2, Chapter 76 marks a new turn in Pi and Richard Parker's relationship. At first Pi was afraid of Richard Parker, and this fear evolved into awe. Then Pi struggled to keep the tiger subordinate. Now they both know their place. As Pi explained in Part 1, what animals want to know is where they stand.
As Pi's relationship with Richard Parker changes, his self-perception shifts, too. He may be lord of the boat, but he's still ruled by hunger and thirst. His exaggerated descriptions of food foreshadow his excellent cooking abilities as an adult. The visiting writer's body rejects Pi's food despite his best attempts to eat. And Pi carries a revulsion for salt into his adult life. This chapter shows how our tastes—what we eat and what we don't—reflect ourselves and affect who we are.