In Life of Pi, how might Pi's new plan to keep Richard Parker alive assist him spiritually, physically, and intellectually?

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Pi's decision to keep Richard Parker, the Bengal tiger, alive, was actually one of the best choices he made in the entire journey. In every way, saving and domesticating Richard Parker helped him survive his ordeal.

Spiritually, Pi bonded deeply with the tiger over time and was able to keep...

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Pi's decision to keep Richard Parker, the Bengal tiger, alive, was actually one of the best choices he made in the entire journey. In every way, saving and domesticating Richard Parker helped him survive his ordeal.

Spiritually, Pi bonded deeply with the tiger over time and was able to keep himself grounded by speaking with him, growing to care for him, and philosophizing to his silent partner. This is exemplified greatly when, at the end of the story, Pi is brokenhearted over Richard Parker's departure into the forest.

Physically, Richard Parker saved Pi's life when the French castaway tries to kill him to cannibalize him. The tiger kills the man, saving Pi's life to protect him because he has grown to respect Pi as well.

Mentally, the presence of another individual, regardless of species, helps to keep him grounded and sane. Overall, saving Richard Parker was a deeply important and beneficial choice.

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Chapter Fifty-Seven explains the way in which Pi determines to not only try to survive his ordeal, but also to tame Richard Parker and to keep him alive at the same time. In his explanation of this he establishes a curious symbiosis between himself and Richard Parker that is only fully explained--in one sense--towards the end of the novel. Note what he says to justify his decision:

It was not a question of him or me, but of him and me. We were, literally and figuratively, in the same boat. We would live--or we would die--together. 

Pi therefore devises "Plan Number Seven" in order to keep Richard Parker alive, but of course, it also gives him a target or an aim as well to keep him focused and distracted from his plight. As Pi also confesses, having company on that boat was very important, even if that company was a tiger, as it prevented him becoming the prey of a creature even worse than the tiger: despair. 

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