Life of Pi

Life of Pi Summary and Analysis of Part 2, Chapters 92-94


One day Pi sees trees, which turn out to be part of a low-lying island. He assumes the vision is a mirage, until he tests the island with his foot and smells the vegetation. The island is made largely of a kind of tubular seaweed, which Pi discovers is edible, and even delicious. He eats his fill and explores the island as much as he can (he is too weak to walk), but eventually Richard Parker ventures onto the island too, prompting Pi to return to the lifeboat to sleep, in case the new surroundings make Richard Parker dangerous again.

After two days Pi regains the ability to walk. Once he is strong enough to explore beyond the edges of the island, he finds that it is full of meerkats. It is also covered with ponds that Pi discovers to be freshwater, and from which the meerkats pull dead fish. It occurs to Pi that the algae somehow desalinates the water. Pi baths himself and cleans out the lifeboat using the fresh water.

Pi finds that the island possesses nothing but algae, trees, and meerkats; no other life whatsoever. Both Pi and Richard Parker manage to revive themselves, Pi with the algae, Richard Parker with the meerkats, and both with the fresh water and exercise. Richard Parker starts to get more aggressive, so Pi goes back to training him.

One night Pi finally decides to sleep out of the boat, and with his net makes a bed in one of the trees. While there, he sees all the meerkets suddenly desert their ponds and run to the forest, and all climb up into the trees. Pi enjoys sleeping with the meerkats, so he continues to do so, until the day he finds a tree at the center of the forest that appears to be the only tree to have fruit. When he tries to eat the fruit, he finds that each piece of fruit is actually layers and layers of leaves wrapped tightly around a human tooth; what's more, together the fruit form a full, perfect set of teeth. Pi’s curiosity gets the best of him, and he tries to plant his feet on the island by night. The soil burns him terribly, however. It turns out that the island is carnivorous: it emits acid at night that dissolves anything on its surface. Pi must leave his semi-paradise, and is utterly weary as a result. He turns wholly to God.

Some time later, Pi and Richard Parker come upon land in what turns out to be Mexico. Richard Parker goes immediately off into the jungle without any kind of goodbye or acknowledgment to Pi. Soon Pi is found by humans, but he weeps over Richard Parker’s desertion. The people who find him bathe him and feed him, and he is taken off to a hospital. He proclaims that this is the end of his story.


This section continues the pattern created in the previous one, of great hopes followed by great disillusionment. When Pi discovers his island, it seems too good to be true—it has plenty of food, fresh water, meerkats for companionship, and protection from the weather. It is even moving, so there exists the potential that Pi could meet a ship, or other, human-inhabited land. Pi regains his strength, and some degree of happiness.

Yet while Pi seems to believe this island is a paradise, Martel's (and Pi the storyteller's) significant use of foreshadowing prevents the reader from ever truly believing it. Richard Parker’s sore paws and refusal to stay on the island at night, the meerkats’ panicked run to the trees, the disappearing fish, all foretell that something sinister is afoot. Pi does not give up his belief that this island is his perfect new home until he physically encounters the truth.

Pi the storyteller transitions abruptly from this realization to his coming upon land in Mexico. What happens in between - Pi's utter loss of all hope, his final turn to God - is told to us in one brief sentence. That is all. How and when Pi comes upon land is left unsaid; this again emphasizes the depth of Pi’s loss of hope after learning the truth about the island. Pi, who normally cannot say enough about God and the rituals he uses to worship him, here says only that he turned fully to him.

This section also marks the betrayal by Richard Parker, a betrayal Pi can never forgive—not the killing of the Frenchman, but the act of leaving Pi without any indication of a goodbye. The resulting feeling of loss and sadness, rather than any excitement or relief at having finally returned to land, is what Pi emphasizes at the end of his story. The reader is thereby reminded that, although Pi has survived, he has lost all his family and everything he cared about, and now must face that loss within the human world.

Pi's declaration that this is the end of his story is also significant. Much in fact happens after his recuperation in Mexico. Positing "the end" when he does is a choice; the author, after all, does not end the story there, but instead includes an additional five chapters. Storytelling thus implies the ability to choose one's own story.