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Richard Parker in "The Life of Pi"? What role does Richard Parker play for Pi in...

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rhetorike | College Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted July 30, 2008 at 9:08 AM via web

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Richard Parker in "The Life of Pi"? 

What role does Richard Parker play for Pi in "The Life of Pi"?  What does the tiger symbolize in Pi's mind and experience?

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Susan Woodward | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted August 7, 2008 at 10:55 AM (Answer #2)

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Richard Parker represents all that Pi fears, as well as how he overcomes those fears.  Pi must learn how to face his greatest fear of death, especially by a wild beast (he'd been told by his brother that one day he was going to be like a goat fed to a wild animal).  Using the skills he learned while helping at his father's zoo, Pi bravely faces his fear and masters it.  Using an analogy of a circus, Pi tames his own fears, and in doing so, survives against incredible odds.

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rhetorike | College Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted August 9, 2008 at 1:36 PM (Answer #3)

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There are so many layers of meaning, and the name and character of Richard Parker has a long history in literature. Click here for some other perspectives that might illuminate how readers of "Life of Pi" might think of Richard Parker's role for Pi.

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sjp | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted August 11, 2008 at 7:50 PM (Answer #4)

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I agree that Richard Parker is a manifestation of Pi's fears. But I believe he is also a representation of his strength. It is a strength he didn't know that he had until he had to face it, to turn his fear into power (i.e, taming Richard Parker). In a sense, Richard Parker becomes Pi's alter ego.

It is Richard Parker who kills Pi's dangerous "Friend"- something Pi himself could never do.

"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."

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eabettencourt | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted August 27, 2008 at 8:44 AM (Answer #5)

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Richard Parker is also the symbolic manifestation of Pi's duality.  Yes, he has a civilized human side, but he also has a savage side that surfaces when survival mode kicks in.  Because this savage side is hard to accept or deal with, Pi creates his alter ego, Richard Parker.

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froger | High School Teacher | eNoter

Posted March 5, 2011 at 7:11 PM (Answer #6)

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if it werent for RP Pi    wouldnt have survived. RP at first was Pis source of fear and then RP later becomes Pis source of hopeee

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mistry15 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 21, 2012 at 3:12 PM (Answer #8)

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I agree that Richard Parker is a manifestation of Pi's fears. But I believe he is also a representation of his strength. It is a strength he didn't know that he had until he had to face it, to turn his fear into power (i.e, taming Richard Parker). In a sense, Richard Parker becomes Pi's alter ego.

It is Richard Parker who kills Pi's dangerous "Friend"- something Pi himself could never do.

"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."

What page is the quote on ????

 

 

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bsome1110 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 5, 2013 at 6:06 PM (Answer #9)

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Richard Parker symbolizes all the lessons (no matter how difficult) his father taught him.  Without his fathers lessons, Richard Parker would not have existed and Pi most certainly would have died.  So in the movie the author claims that Pi was the tiger, but only from his fathers love and lessons in life.  A beautiful movie and a test to ones faith in God and the overcoming of terrible odds.  The sad truth is that the story without the animals was most likely the true story.  Pi crying at the end when the people dragged him off was the saddest part of the movie for me, as it was then that it all set in and was grieving cause he was unable to show much he loved his father and unable to say goodbye to him.  my father died of a heart attack last year.  he was my best friend.  and i grieve everyday that he is gone and i regret never thanking him for being such a great father.  The movie has moved me like no other movie ever has and the acting was some of the best i have ever seen.  highly recommend it to everyone! 

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