Richard Parker's ferocity in life equals Pi's resolve to find land; therefore, the two together fight to survive almost a year at sea alone on a lifeboat. Richard Parker not only represents Pi's alter ego, but he also represents Pi's knowledge about wild animals in captivity. The way Pi deals...
Richard Parker's ferocity in life equals Pi's resolve to find land; therefore, the two together fight to survive almost a year at sea alone on a lifeboat. Richard Parker not only represents Pi's alter ego, but he also represents Pi's knowledge about wild animals in captivity. The way Pi deals with the tiger parallels how he deals with the rest of his life. For example, Pi comes up with six ways to get rid of Richard Parker in chapter 54. Unfortunately, none of those are possible for one reason or another. As a result, Pi decides to tame Richard Parker in order for both of them to survive. Metaphorically speaking, this means that Pi comes to recognize the animal within himself, and he decides to conquer it rather than to get rid of it. Pi also acknowledges that in this extreme predicament, he needs Richard Parker to help him to survive. When Pi realizes that the answer isn't to get rid of the tiger, but to embrace it, he says the following:
"What was missing here to tame Richard Parker? Time? It might be weeks before a ship sighted me. I had all the time in the world. Resolve? There's nothing like extreme need to give you resolve. Knowledge? Was I not a zookeeper's son? Reward? Was there any reward greater than life? Any punishment worse than death? I looked at Richard Parker. My panic was gone. My fear was dominated. Survival was at hand" (165).
With this passage, Pi teaches us that we can handle any situation in our lives if we apply time, resolve, knowledge, and reward. He uses the first three to achieve the fourth. We can do that, too. If we are resourceful and patient, then we can eventually meet our goals. Therefore, when we are faced with "fearsome caricatures" in life, all we have to do is use our skills and knowledge to create a plan that works for us. For Pi, this means applying what he knows about animals from his father's zoo to help him approach each situation that he encounters on the lifeboat. For us, it means that when we feel trapped, isolated, or afraid, we can draw upon our knowledge and resolve to bring us through as well.