Discussion Topic

The relationship between Pi and Richard Parker and how they mutually contributed to each other's survival in Life of Pi

Summary:

The relationship between Pi and Richard Parker in Life of Pi is symbiotic, as they depend on each other for survival. Pi provides food and water for Richard Parker, ensuring the tiger's survival, which in turn gives Pi a sense of purpose and a reason to stay vigilant. Their bond helps maintain Pi's mental and physical health during their ordeal at sea.

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How did Pi assist Richard Parker in Life of Pi?

Richard Parker, the Bengal tiger, and Piscine “Pi” Patel, the Indian boy, have a symbiotic or mutually beneficial relationship during their long boat trip together. Although Richard Parker is a fearsome carnivore, Pi moves beyond natural fear and befriends him.

After the shipwreck, Pi helps the tiger by encouraging him to swim to safety in the lifeboat. Momentarily forgetting the threat the tiger presents, Pi thinks of rescuing him the same as any other animal or human. After they both are established as lifeboat passengers, Pi works hard to teach Richard Parker that he is the leader and that there is a clear territorial boundary between them. These efforts support their peaceful coexistence.

In the boat, the most important way that Pi helps the tiger is by enabling his survival, as he provides food and water to Richard Parker; this sustenance enforces the idea of the tiger’s dependency. The combined strategies of providing food and establishing territory and dominance effectively generate loyalty, so Richard Parker rescues Pi when his life is in danger. As the tiger’s carnivorous nature has never left him, this act of rescue is accomplished by eating the hyena.

Ultimately, the last helpful act that Pi provides is to release Richard Parker when they land, as he admits that the animal was his alter ego.

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What are some quotes from Life of Pi about Richard Parker "saving" Pi's life?

Yann Martel's novel Life of Pi tells the story of Piscine ("Pi") Patel, an Indian boy who ends up stranded at sea on a lifeboat with a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan named Orange Juice, and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. One by one, the animals perish, leaving Pi alone on the lifeboat with the tiger.

Although Pi is initially scared of Richard Parker, he eventually recognizes that the tiger is actually a calming influence.

It was Richard Parker who calmed me down. It is the irony of this story that the one who scared me witless to start with was the very same who brought me peace, purpose, I dare even say wholeness.

Pi also credits Richard Parker with giving him the will to live.

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.

When another shipwreck victim attempts to harm Pi, Richard Parker kills the man. Pi acknowledges that he is still alive because of the tiger.

He gave me a life, my own, but at the expense of taking one. He ripped the flesh off the man's frame and cracked his bones.

Pi also formally thanks Richard Parker for saving his life.

I would like to say it formally: Richard Parker, thank you. Thank you for saving my life.

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What are some quotes from Life of Pi about Richard Parker "saving" Pi's life?

There are many references that Pi makes to Richard Parker, either directly or indirectly, saving his life over the seven months that he is adrift at sea. First, on page 136, Pi says that if it weren't for the fact that Richard Parker was under the tarpaulin, the hyena would have eaten him. He explains that the hyena wouldn't want to eat the stronger predator's food, so Pi was reserved by the hyena for the tiger. The only problem after that is the fact that there are two predators on board that could kill Pi, not just one.

Next, in chapter 57, Pi says that Richard Parker calms him down, which is ironic, because he also incites the greatest fear in him as well. Pi explains as follows:

"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. . . without Richard Parker, I wouldn't be alive today to tell you my story" (164).

Then, Pi comes up with a plan to tame Richard Parker, thereby claiming his position as the alpha male of the territory. Pi explains that predators don't usually attack each other; so, if Pi can establish himself as a predator, rather than prey, this will help to tame the tiger and save his life. Fortunately, something else about the tiger's motivation saves Pi's life as follows:

"If I survived my apprenticeship as the high seas animal trainer, it was because Richard Parker did not really want to attack me" (206).

Pi proceeds to explain that Richard Parker gives him four warnings before he attacks. These warnings are life-savers because once Pi learns this, boundaries are more clearly defined for survival of both of them.

One way that Richard Parker directly saves Pi's life is with the human they encounter in chapter 90--another castaway. When the man tries to kill Pi, it is Richard Parker who kills him instead.

"He gave me a life, my own, but at the expense of taking one. He ripped the flesh off the man's frame and cracked his bones. . . Something in me died then that has never come back to life" (255).

Many of the times that Pi says Richard Parker saved his life is psychological in nature. The only time that Richard Parker physically steps in and saves Pi's life directly is as shown above in chapter 90. When the reader discovers that the whole story has an alternate, real-life application, it is possible to infer that Richard Parker actually represents Pi's alter ego--the life-saving/survival one. If this is actually the case, then it is Pi's sense of survival that saved his life, not an imaginary tiger.

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How did Richard Parker keep Pi alive in Life of Pi?

In Life of Pi, Richard Parker helps keep Pi alive on the lifeboat by killing another dangerous predator, the hyena. However, the tiger himself is an even more dangerous predator and, despite his seasickness, poses a constant threat to Pi on the small lifeboat.

Paradoxically, this threat helps to keep Pi alive, and it does so in two principal ways. First, Pi is in a dangerous environment even discounting the threat posed by Richard Parker. He is in a small boat on the open sea, vulnerable to many forms of danger which may not be immediately obvious, since they would come from outside the boat. Having a constant danger on the boat helps to keep Pi mentally alert.

The other way in which Richard Parker keeps Pi alive is related to this. Even experienced sailors in Pi's situation are notoriously likely to succumb to madness or despair. Left to brood on his situation, Pi might very well become so despondent that he decides life is not worth living, or start drinking seawater, or doing any number of other things harmful to his own well-being. Again, Richard Parker keeps Pi's mind focused and in the present, keeping insanity at bay, and providing Pi with a curious kind of companionship.

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