He was too far. But the sight of the lifebuoy flying his way gave him hope. He revived and started beating the water with vigorous, desperate strokes.
After the ship sinks, from his lifeboat Pi sees Richard Parker in the water and throws him a lifebuoy to save him. Pi narrates what he believes to be going on in Richard Parker’s head, thus anthropomorphizing the tiger. Pi’s perception of Richard Parker as having human feelings and reactions launches what Pi deems to be the relationship between the two beings.
Prusten is the quietest of tiger calls, a puff through the nose to express friendliness and harmless intentions.
Sated with the hyena and rainwater, Richard Parker makes the rare prusten sound, which would indicate that he is content for the moment and harbors no ill will toward the human on board. Pi interprets Richard Parker’s vocalization as a sign that they can coexist on the lifeboat. In making this determination, Pi signifies his intention to tame Richard Parker, thus upending the natural order.
A part of me did not want Richard Parker to die at all, because if he died I would be left alone with despair, a foe even more formidable than a tiger. If I still had the will to live, it was thanks to Richard Parker. He kept me from thinking too much about my family and my tragic circumstances. He pushed me to go on living. I hated him for it, yet at the same time I was grateful. Iamgrateful It’s the plain truth: without Richard Parker, I wouldn’t be alive today to tell you my story.
After Richard Parker makes the prusten sound, Pi meditates on how they will learn to live together and links his own survival with Richard Parker’s. As such, the tiger operates on multiple levels in the book. He functions symbolically, as a symbol of hope for Pi. But Pi also sees him as a character, one with a specific personality and with whom he develops a real relationship.
To display his feces openly, to flaunt the smell of them, would have been a sign of social dominance. Conversely, to hide them, or try to, was a sign of deference—of deferenceto me.
Pi comments that Richard Parker hides his feces, which demonstrates that he views Pi as the alpha animal. Although Richard Parker is an apex predator, he accepts Pi as the alpha animal and not merely a human whom he could easily dispatch. This scene underscores Pi’s success in taming the tiger as well as Pi’s understanding of how Richard Parker’s behavior fits within the natural world.
Richard Parker had been a zoo animal as long as he could remember, and he was used to sustenance coming to him without his lifting a paw.
Pi frames his success taming Richard Parker so the two can coexist on the lifeboat as partially explained by the tiger’s prior existence as a captive animal, not a wild one. In the natural world, Richard Parker would hunt, but for most of his life, he lived in a world in which food and water were provided to him. His learned dependence on humans makes Richard Parker more susceptible to taming.
That 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.
After Richard Parker kills the French castaway, Pi ponders the tiger’s actions and how they impact him. Richard Parker acted as a typical predator, but Pi imbues his actions with deeper meaning. Even though he did not deal the fatal blow, he takes on an outsized responsibility for the Frenchman’s death. The interpretation that Piisactually Richard Parker would explain Pi’s feelings of guilt.
But I don’t want to take too much credit for what I managed to do with Richard Parker. My good fortune, the fortune that saved my life, was that he was not only a young adult but a pliable young adult, an omega animal.
On the algae island, Pi continues to dominate Richard Parker, literally training him to jump through hoops, but says his success stems from the tiger’s learned social status. Richard Parker began life in captivity as a cub, and among his kind, he occupied the lowest social standing. Like a true omega, he was easily influenced and had much to gain from being favored by Pi, namely, food and water.
Mr. Okamoto: “We’ll be careful when we drive away. We don’t want to run into Richard Parker.” Pi Patel: “Don’t worry, you won’t. He’s hiding somewhere you’ll never find him.”
At the end of the interview, the officials tell Pi that no reports of a tiger in Mexico have been made, but they will remain on the lookout for him. Pi’s response could arise from what he said earlier— that wild animals live in fear of humans—but could also be a hint that Pi is actually Richard Parker. In this second version of the story, Pi no longer needs the tiger part of his personality, so that aspect of himself disappeared.