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Free Study Guide for Life of Pi by Yann Martel Book Summary

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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES


CHAPTER 55 - 56


Summary

The rain continues through the night and the morning. Pi is worn out and has only a vague recollection of “Plan Number Six.” When the rain stops and the sun begins to warm and dry him, Pi falls asleep. He wakes and observes the vastness of the sea, realizing that the raft and the lifeboat are vulnerable and insignificant. He feels doomed. He sees Richard Parker in the lifeboat and envisions him surmounting the “moat” between them and vanquishing Pi. That vision, and Pi’s knowledge that tigers can drink salt water, leads Pi to conclude that Plan Number Six is the worst of his plans.

Pi describes how, no matter what your resources and intelligence, fear will defeat you. Fear will involuntarily adversely affect all parts of the body, except the eyes which will “always pay proper attention to fear.” Fear is the opponent that must be defeated.


Notes

Pi’s spirit ebbs and flows throughout his time at sea. During these low points there is no reference to God, only Pi’s dismal interpretations of his plight. When his intellectual and emotional feelings combine once again with his faith, his perception of his situation will change.


CHAPTER 57


Summary

Pi sees that Richard Parker now seems content after eating the hyena and drinking rainwater that accumulated in the lifeboat. The tiger is making a sound that Pi has never heard before, but knows of from his father’s description. It is a contented purring sound called prusten. Pi understands clearly now that he and Richard Parker must both survive. He is determined to tame the tiger. In this Pi finds an incentive to survive, a means of conquering his fear.

Acting like a circus performer and shrieking on his whistle, Pi causes Richard Parker to cringe. The tables are turned, at least temporarily. Richard Parker is now afraid of Pi. The first “training” complete, Pi formulates a seventh plan - Keep Richard Parker alive.

Notes

The reader can now begin to make sense of the detailed description of lion taming from Chapters 13 and 14. It is this knowledge that will help Pi carry out Plan Number Seven. The incongruity of the tiger with its current surroundings may provide the “measure of madness” that will make Pi’s attempts at training work.


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