Summary and Analysis: Part Three—Benito Juárez Infirmary, Tomatlán, Mexico—Chapters 95-100
Told from the point of view of the author's persona, this chapter summarizes how Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto and Mr. Atsuro Chiba from the Japanese Ministry of Transport's Maritime Department make their way from California down to Tomatlán Mexico to interview Pi about the sinking of the Tsimtsum. They get lost because a poorly folded map causes them to read "Tomatán" as "Tomatlán." Chapters 96-99 are excerpts from the transcript of their conversation with Pi.
The fact that these men drove over a thousand miles to get answers about why the Tsimtsum sank shows the intensity of the human need for meaning. The fact that it is an incorrectly folded map that confuses them shows how fate and random chance control our destinies.
Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto and Mr. Atsuro Chiba start to interview Pi, shifting in and out of Japanese to keep some elements of their conversation private.
The shifting languages and mundane details, like Okamoto being tired and Pi wanting a cookie, show the many difficulties in the human search for the truth.
This chapter is just two words long: "The story."
This chapter makes the entire book a story within a story as Pi supposedly retells "the story" readers have read to this point. However, since Pi admits to leaving things out and the author to missing many details, the reader does not know exactly what is told, leaving private experience a mystery, as it always is.
Mr. Okamoto and Mr. Chiba praise the story publicly but doubt it in Japanese.
As the men hide their true feelings behind a foreign language, keeping what is most important to them private, so Pi keeps his cookies private. His priorities were changed by this voyage; he is more purely biological than they are.
Mr. Okamoto and Mr. Chiba challenge Pi's story, saying bananas do not float, a carnivorous island is impossible, no trace of Richard Parker was ever found, and two blind strangers in lifeboats meeting in the Pacific is unlikely. Pi first argues with them, pointing out the limits to human knowledge, then offers them another story that fits their world view better.
In this story, there are four Tsimtsum survivors—Pi, his mother, the cook, and a sailor. The sailor broke a leg jumping into the life boat (just as the zebra did in the original story). In this story, the cook convinces the other humans to cut the sailor's leg off (just as the hyena bit off the zebra's leg in the first story) to save the man's life, but with the real intention of using the rotting leg as bait so that they can survive. Eventually Pi's mother and the cook fight, and Pi's mother is killed (just as Orange Juice the orangutan is killed in the first story). This story ends with Pi killing the cook and eating his flesh (just as Richard Parker killed the hyena and the blind stranger in the original story).
The two men questioning Pi note the similarities between the stories, then move on to questioning Pi about the ship and its crew. Pi makes a few observations, noting that the crew seemed sullen and drunken, but is careful not to claim too much knowledge about how the ship was being run or how it sank. When the men are done with their questions, Pi asks some of his own, asking them which story they like better. Both men...
(The entire section is 877 words.)