Summary and Analysis: Part Two—The Pacific Ocean—Chapters 68-77
Chapter 68 describes how Pi's sleeping patterns changed (he slept only at brief stretches) and how they differed from Richard Parker's (he slept for a long time). Chapter 69 describes the times Pi thought he saw a light in the distance and set off flares to attract the ship's attention.
If the previous chapters had shown how animalistic Pi had become, these chapters show how great a distance there still is. Pi cannot sleep much because of his anxiety, and it may be false hope that makes him shoot off the flares. Richard Parker just accepts.
Chapter 70 describes in detail how hard it is to butcher a turtle. Chapter 71 synthesizes Pi's lessons on how to conquer a savage predator and claim their shared territory. Chapter 72 describes how Pi made shields from turtle shells to protect himself from the tiger's attacks. Pi challenges Richard Parker four times and fails; each time the tiger knocks Pi and his shield off into the sea. Pi finally conquers Richard Parker after he learns to read the tiger's signals and to back down before he raises his paw. Then Pi would make his point by blowing his whistle.
These chapters focus on the next transformation in Pi: his decision to consciously triumph over Richard Parker. Pi makes himself into a tiger tamer. In doing so, Pi conquers the fear which had reduced him to immobility earlier in his story.
"It was rights I needed, the sort of rights that come with might." (Chapter 70)
Pi thinks this as he sets out to bend Richard Parker to his will, but it can be taken as a larger reflection on political philosophy. Early in the novel, Pi's religious sentiments made him wonder why everyone could not simply get along. Now he knows: sometimes force is necessary.
Pi wishes he had a book, and he describes how he kept a diary.
In itself, this brief chapter indicates just what it said: Pi wishes he had a book, especially a holy scripture of some sort, along to raise his spirits and to allow him to escape. However, in its placement, this chapter also serves as just that sort of escape: Pi needs to think about quiet escape after facing down the tiger.
"My greatest wish—other than salvation—was to have a book. A long book with a never-ending story. One I could read again and again, with new eyes and a fresh understanding each time. Alas, there was no scripture in the lifeboat."
Pi's thought here marks several points....
(The entire section is 659 words.)