How does Mr. Patel's zookeeping ability compare to his parenting skills?
A fine question.
I'd have to say that activities show his willingness to adapt, to think independently, and to try to do what is best for all involved. Both his intelligence and his compassion are at play in both endeavors.
Alas, in both cases, he essentially fails. That is to say, he succeeds in keeping both safe and helping each prosper for a while, but his choices take both aboard ship…where they die, and/or end up fighting one another.
At the same time, Mr. Patel understand the relationship between the animal and human world, and he teaches it to his children. These insights, and the things Pi derives from them, allow him to survive. He has done the best he can, and better than most. In that, I'd say he is not good at mundane parenting, or zoo keeping, but he is good at laying the foundation for greatness.
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