Life of Pi Questions and Answers
by Yann Martel

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Consider Richard Parker as Pi's alter ego. What is the significance of their relationship and of Pi's contrasting feelings towards Richard Parker?

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In chapter 53, Pi gives a physical description of Richard Parker as he emerges from underneath the tarpaulin. He is enormous, strong, and beautiful at the same time. He also creates fear in Pi as the two face each other from across the life boat. Now, if this is the moment that Pi's alter-ego emerges, then it scares him that he can represent such power and dominance on the lifeboat. After eating a rat, Richard Parker eats the hyena, who represents the cook. This is the alternate story to Pi avenging his mother's death after the cook killed her. For a sixteen-year-old boy to witness his mother's murder and then kill her murderer is an extremely traumatic experience. In order to cope with the horror, it is easier for Pi's psyche to project his ability to kill onto the persona of a tiger. Since Pi understands animals such as tigers, he can wrap his mind around animalistic behaviors more easily than he can admit to himself that he, as a human, killed another human.

Pi is therefore scared...

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