Free Study Guide for Life of Pi by Yann Martel Book Summary|
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Pi may be referring to himself as well as the zebra with his remark about the endurance of a living being. He, too, will sustain much injury, physical and emotional. Orange Juice is a maternal symbol. In the previous chapter she mournfully searches for her sons. Here, she represents to Pi a motherly defender, but fear and lack of killing experience defeat her.
Pi recounts how Richard Parker came to have a human name. Seven people had been killed in Bangladesh, presumably by a panther. A hunter is hired. He baits the panther with a goat, but it is a tiger rather than a panther that appears. The tiger and her cub drink from the river before approaching the goat. (Pi points out here that thirst is a greater requirement than hunger.) The hunter shoots the tiger with a tranquilizer. The tiger, and her cub which the hunter names Thirsty, are being sent to the Pondicherry Zoo. The clerk at the train station, however, transposes the hunter’s name, Richard Parker, with the tiger cub’s name on the official paperwork. Pi’s father is amused and the name sticks.
As mentioned in Chapter 37, the human name helps give the tiger “main character” status and blur the distinction between humans and animals. The name itself, however, was carefully chosen by Martel. There were several shipwrecked Richard Parkers preceding the tiger. In 1837, Poe wrote his only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym about a shipwreck where Pym and another survivor cannibalize a third survivor named Richard Parker. In 1846, the ship Francis Speight sank leading to another tale of cannibalism, one victim being Richard Parker. In 1884, in another true story, a yacht, the Mignonette sank and the cabin boy, Richard Parker, was killed and eaten by the other survivors. Yet another Richard Parker died in the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. His body was never recovered. This background information hints at the possibility of cannibalism or that Richard Parker may end up missing.
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Cassie, Donna L.. "TheBestNotes on Life of Pi".
. 09 May 2017