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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 58


Summary

Pi lists survival tips from the manual he found in the locker. There are many practical and very specific recommendations, not the least of which assures “If you have the will to live, you will.” There is, however, no information on the training of a tiger so Pi set his thoughts upon devising a training program. He reviews in his mind that he must establish his territory and provide himself shelter, daunting tasks. He remains hopeless.

Notes

The chapter illustrates how “crude reality” is not enough. Even though Pi knows what must be done, he has not yet uncovered the faith to make it work.


CHAPTER 59


Summary

Pi takes note of the relationships between the lifeboat, the raft, and the sea. When Pi pulls the raft in close to the boat, the boat turns sideways to the waves and rocks, causing Richard Parker distress. In response to the tiger’s growls, previously unknown inhabitants of the lifeboat, cockroaches, like the flies and rat before them, attempt to flee the lifeboat. Pi discerns that, except for microbes on the decaying flesh of the tiger’s prey, he and Richard Parker are now completely alone.

Pi lifts himself on to the boat to get rations from the locker. He smells that Richard Parker has urinated to mark off territory only under the tarpaulin, and sees that there is a pool of rainwater that the tiger may use to drink and to cool himself. Pi dares to dip out a beaker of water to drink. Unconcerned about contamination, Pi drinks the purloined water and then urinates back into his cup an almost identical volume of liquid. He distributes his urine over the tarpaulin to mark it as his territory.


Next, Pi deciphers how to use the solar stills and strings them out between the boat and the raft. He reworks the raft to make a seat and shelter, all the while keeping an eye on Richard Parker. He gathers rations and blankets, boards his raft, and lets out the rope. He watches Richard Parker from a distance, marveling that the tiger is truly worthy of its title, Royal Bengal tiger.

Suddenly, splashing from the sea below brings Pi from his musings. He examines the colorful plethora of sea life, comparing the activity of the fish to a busy city. When aboard the Tsimtsum, Pi had thought only dolphins lived in the open ocean. He watches the scene below him contentedly until he falls asleep.

Notes

Pi is becoming more adept in his perilous environment. Here, Martel reminds the reader of the name of the ship, Tsimtsum. Pi is left to contemplate tsimtsum as he withdraws himself from the lifeboat and prepares to create an inhabitable world for Richard Parker and himself.


CHAPTER 60


Summary

Pi awakens during the night in wonder of the beauty and vastness of the ocean and sky. He compares himself to Markandeya, who catches a glimpse of the overwhelming universe when he drops out of Vishnu’s mouth, and nearly dies of fright before being rescued by Vishnu. Feeling inconsequential in the scheme of the universe, Pi prays and goes back to sleep.

Notes

Pi’s situation is looking up. Having rediscovered his faith, as evidenced by his reminiscence of a Hindu story and his Muslim prayer, Pi now has the spirit to survive. This is the first time prayer or God has been mentioned in several chapters. In the chapters without God, Pi is without hope. His faith will flow for the next several chapters, then, like the sea, will ebb once again.

The Hindu saint, Markandeya, has more in common with Pi than Pi describes. Markandeya was destined to die at the age of 16, Pi’s age. However, his devotion to Shiva (the expression of Brahman, or God, who destroys the universe) prevents death from claiming him. When he falls from Vishnu’s mouth, Markandeya is lost in a dark sea. Vishnu (the expression of Brahman who preserves the universe) appears as a mountain and rescues Markandeya. Like Markandeya, Pi’s devotion will save him from death. This chapter, though brief, reminds the reader, who is aware from the start that Pi will survive, that this is a story “that will make you believe in God.”


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