The hyena represents cowardice.
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The hyena displays many negative qualities, such as greed, stupidity and viciousness, but these qualities can be seen to come from its cowardice. At the beginning of their time in the boat, the hyena whines almost constantly, and is so afraid that it runs in circles until it makes itself sick. Unlike Pi, who even in his desperate fear finds ways to survive, the hyena just kills and eats as much as it can in a panicked state until Richard Parker kills it.