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In Life of Pi, how is Richard Parker a factor in Pi's survival at sea?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Richard Parker as a tiger gives Pi the motivation to continue living and becomes his companion on the small lifeboat. Stranded in the middle of the ocean, both Richard Parker the tiger and Pi are forced to rely on one another for survival. Pi discovers a sense of duty to Richard Parker, which forces him to get up each morning and attempt to feed the famished tiger. Despite the obvious dangers of being trapped on a small boat with a tiger, Pi develops a mutual respect and close relationship with Richard Parker. Pi describes how Richard Parker motivates him to survive by saying,

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. I am grateful. It's the plain truth: without Richard Parker, I wouldn't be alive today to tell you my story (Martel, 81).

Pi fears being on the lifeboat by himself, which makes Richard...

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