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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 70


Summary

Pi presents a detailed picture of the process of slaughtering a sea turtle. He cannot do it on the raft, so he hauls the turtle over to the lifeboat in hopes that the oppressive heat will dissuade Richard Parker from emerging from the shade of the tarpaulin. Following the recommendations in the survival manual, Pi slashes the turtle’s neck with a hatchet and catches the blood in a beaker. He drinks it. He saws off the belly shell with a knife, though it is difficult because the turtle is thrashing about.

Almost spent from this part of the task, Pi pulls off the belly shell. “It lifted reluctantly, with a wet sucking sound. Inner life was revealed, twitching and jerking - muscles, fat, blood, guts and bones. And still the turtle thrashed about.” Pi stabs the turtle repeatedly and even cuts the head off, but it continues flailing and the head tries to breathe. He shoves the head overboard and drops the rest of the quivering turtle down to Richard Parker. Knowing the tiger has smelled blood, Pi retreats to the raft. He is exhausted and got only a cup of blood from his efforts. He decides to rethink his relationship with Richard Parker, to exert his “rights” as the super-alpha.

Notes

Pi has reached the basest point of his savagery. He carries out the gory process of killing the turtle without remorse and without a prayer of sadness or appreciation for the turtle’s life. His revulsion and anguish that “a living being could sustain so much injury and go on living” (Chapter 47) is gone. He expresses the attitude that might makes right and will attempt to show his might in order to exercise his right to a place on the lifeboat.



CHAPTERS 70 - 71


Summary

Pi outlines a step-by-step procedure for taming a wild animal at sea. It is actually the rationale for Pi’s own plan of action. To implement the program, first provoke the animal, but not to the point of attack. “If it does, God be with you.” Maintain eye contact. Then, when the animal attempts to cross into your territory, blast on the whistle and trip the sea anchor so the boat rocks the animal into seasickness. (If you become seasick yourself, use your vomit to mark your territory.) Then, retreat to your own safety zone and leave the animal alone, but safely sheltered. Repeat the process until the animal associates the sound of the whistle with extreme nausea. By this time, the whistle alone should suffice in controlling the animal.

For the training of Richard Parker, Pi fashions a shield from a turtle shell. His first attempt at intimidating the tiger earns Pi a smack into the water with a paw. Panicked, Pi swims to his raft. After acquiring another turtle shell, Pi makes a second attempt, and a third and fourth with the same results as the first. He reasons that Richard Parker does not want to fight, just “make his point.” With a fifth shield, Pi is finally able to prevail.

Notes

Pi explains that the training of Richard Parker is a “simple necessity.” He no longer searches the horizon for a rescuer, but has accepted that he must survive on his own. Richard Parker has become Pi’s load in life and rather than being consumed by it (literally), Pi is drawing on his scientific knowledge and faith. It is as if his whole life has been preparation for his present situation.


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Life of Pi Study Guide Free BookNotes Plot Summary

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