How would the novel’s flavor be different if Pi’s sole surviving animal was the zebra or orange juice? (We assume that if the hyena had been the only surviving animal, Pi would not have lived to tell us his story.
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Richard Parker is a beautiful predator that could kill Pi whenever wanted to. Richard Parker serves as a manifestation of Pi's fears yet also pushes Pi to discover his strength. Richard Parker forces Pi to understand the inner depths of his own psyche and resolve,
"This was the terrible cost of Richard Parker. He gave me a life, my own, but at the expense of taking one. He ripped the flesh off the man's frame and cracked his bones. The smell of blood filled my nose. Something in me died then that has never come back to life."