Life of Pi

Life of Pi Summary and Analysis of Part 2, Chapters 57-72


Richard Parker watches Pi contentedly after finishing his hyena meal. He then makes a sound Pi has heard of but never heard—"prusten", a puff through the nose used to express friendliness and harmless intentions. This leads Pi to realize that his only choice for survival is to tame Richard Parker. This is a relief to him, because he had realized his chances of outliving the tiger were very low, and somehow Richard Parker’s presence kept him from thinking too much about his family and his hopelessness. Pi begins the training from his raft.

Pi reads over the boat’s survival manual, then thinks over all the things he has to do with long-term survival in mind. He realizes that he can use the raft to change the orientation of the boat, leading it to rock more unpleasantly side to side. He also sees cockroaches, the last remnants of life on the boat besides Richard Parker, jump overboard. Pi uses the solar still to make fresh water from the sea water, then spends the day improving his raft. When he is finished, he looks down and realizes the sea is teeming with life, which he watches until the sun sets.

Pi wakes during the night, and realizes that his suffering is taking place in a grand setting, and accepts, temporarily, that it, and he, are insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

He decides to fish. He cuts up his remaining shoe to use as bait, but loses all of it to the fish, who avoid the hook. Pi goes onto the lifeboat to search for something else to use as bait, and a school of flying fish go by, many landing in the boat.

Pi gets one of these fish and takes it to the raft to use as bait, but he has a hard time killing it—he finally manages, but he weeps over it. It is successful as bait, however, and he manages to catch a three-foot dorado, which he has much less psychological trouble killing. He then gives it to Richard Parker.

Pi starts to worry about the water situation, as Richard Parker is showing signs of thirst. He checks the solar stills without much hope, but finds that they have indeed created a fair amount of salt-free water. He pours the water into a bucket and gives it to Richard Parker.

Pi reports that, all told, he survived 227 days at sea. He describes his average day, and how he managed to keep busy. He describes the salt water boils that he would get after his clothes fully disintegrated. He tried to learn about navigation from his survival handbook, but it assumed a basic knowledge that he did not have, and he did not have the strength to alter the boat’s course much anyway.

Pi describes how his fishing ability improved as time passed. He started to use his cargo net as a lure, which attracted fish to his raft. He also realized it was easy to catch turtles, although not at all easy to haul them aboard. The underside of the raft became a small sea community, which Pi used for snacks and as something to watch to calm his nerves.

After time, Pi gets used to the motion of the sea and the wind, but he still cannot ever sleep well because of his anxiety. He gives up completely on being rescued by a ship, and just hopes for land.

The first time that Pi kills a sea turtle, it is because the survival manual recommends their blood for drinking. Richard Parker has started to tolerate Pi on the tarpaulin when it is hot out, but Pi is tired of having to fear him, and decides it is time to impose himself and carve out his own territory.

To do this, Pi intentionally provokes Richard Parker to step into Pi’s territory, at which point he blows his whistle furiously and uses the raft to make the lifeboat go broadside - and thus rock uncomfortably for Richard Parker - so that the tiger will associate his nausea with the sound of the whistle. He allows Richard Parker to recover, then repeats the process until the whistle alone is enough to make the tiger retreat.


This section paradoxically marks both the beginning of Pi's descent into more beast-like behavior, driven by survival needs to a greater degree than Pi would have believed himself capable of, and the beginning of Pi’s control over Richard Parker, who represents the truly wild and bestial. Pi, a lifelong vegetarian, is here driven both to eat meat, and to willfully take life for the first time in his life.

He adjusts to this surprisingly quickly—the flying fish that he very reluctantly and very unhappily kills to use as bait catches him a dorado, which he almost gleefully beats to death. He eventually is even driven to kill a sea turtle, which he finds to be wonderful and one of his favorite foods.

As Pi grows more carnivorous, he comes to realize that he must tame Richard Parker. He begins the training that he has devised so that he can have his own territory on the lifeboat and feel relatively safe there. Although it is not easy and is highly dangerous, he eventually manages to mark out his own territory and exert a certain amount of dominance over Richard Parker.

It is within this section also that time loses meaning. Before this, even at sea, there has been some feeling of chronology in Pi’s story. Within this section, however, Pi declares that he was at sea for 227 days, and with that the chronology stops. Pi, who can no longer keep track of time - which proves something of a blessing.

The danger of loneliness also rears its head. Pi’s isolation is so extreme that he finds comfort in the sea-life communities that come to grow around his raft. Part of Pi’s desire to train, rather than kill, Richard Parker comes from his deep loneliness—although Richard Parker is not much of a companion, he distracts Pi from his greater troubles, and in this takes on a great importance.