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Summary and Analysis: Part Two—The Pacific Ocean—Chapters 58-67

Chapter 58:
Summary
Pi reads the survival manual included in the lifeboat's supplies and then makes further plans for survival, such as training Richard Parker, fishing, and improving his raft. He then falls into despair over his situation.

Analysis
Despite Pi's despair, this chapter demonstrates his embrace of his responsibility for keeping himself alive.

Chapters 59-60:
Summary
Pi's hunger and thirst bring him out of his despair. He pulls his raft next to the lifeboat and retrieves rations, drinks rain water, and splashes his urine on the tarpaulin and locker lid to mark his territory. He then sets up solar stills to distill fresh water from sea water, and improves his raft. Pi is then sufficiently recovered to really look into the sea around him, where he sees a "city" of ocean life: dorados, sharks, plankton, etc. He goes to sleep happy, then wakes in the night. At the sight of the stars, Pi moves through a range of reflections on his suffering, prays, and returns to sleep.

Analysis
On the practical side, Pi is continuing to master his environment. On the emotional and spiritual side, his recovery is marked not only by his new ability to see the beauty of the natural world around him but also by his attempt to consciously make sense of his suffering in a religious context.

Quotes
"With just one glance I discovered that the sea is a city." (Chapter 59)

Pi's thought here is a marker of how far he has come up from his despair. He has ascended to a level of integration that he can notice what is around him for the first time. As he does so, he notices the parallels between natural activity and human activity.

"For the first time I noticed—as I would notice repeatedly during my ordeal, between one throe of agony and the next—that my suffering was taking place in a grand setting." (Chapter 60)

Pi has moved another stage up the ladder of selfhood. He is not just noticing things; he is noticing the beauty and wonder in which he is living. What's more, though his situation is more dramatic than most people's, his comment could apply to everyone's life.

Chapter 61:
Summary
Pi decides to fish. He is not successful at fishing on his own, but flying fish begin to jump into the boat. Pi feeds one to Richard Parker, who then eats many on his own. Pi stores several fish, then uses the flying fish's head as bait and kills one himself.

Analysis
When Pi's own skills fail him—and he thinks Richard Parker will eat him as a result—nature and/or God suddenly provides, giving him flying fish to feed the tiger. This is another example of things working out for Pi, but it comes at a price: he must become a killer and give up his vegetarianism.

Quotes
"I was now a killer. I was now as guilty as Cain."

Pi is filled with these thoughts of guilt after killing a flying fish. It is the first thing he has ever killed. In killing he adapts to his circumstances (he must kill to live), but he remembers the moral importance of his actions.

Chapter 62:
Summary
Pi gets fresh water from his solar stills and feeds Richard Parker again. When Pi blows his whistle, Richard Parker goes back under the tarpaulin.

Analysis
Pi continues his practice of taming Richard Parker, but he notices that the lifeboat is becoming more and more like a zoo; he may be taming the tiger, but he is still trapped himself.

Quotes
"It occurred to me that with every passing day the lifeboat was resembling a zoo more and more."

In a way Pi's observation here marks the way that his life is a circle (it started in a zoo and is in a zoo now) and a straight line at the same time. It is a straight line because he is moving through new stages all the time. He used to be...

(The entire section is 984 words.)