Pi begins the narrative with the Tsimtsum sinking. Everything is chaotic, and Pi is alone in a lifeboat. He sees a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker swimming desperately and Pi encourages him on, addressing the tiger aloud and lamenting the loss of his parents and Ravi. Pi throws Richard Parker a lifebuoy and the tiger climbs aboard the lifeboat. Pi suddenly realizes the danger of sharing a tiny lifeboat with an adult tiger, and he tries to push Richard Parker away, but too late. Pi jumps overboard.
Martel abruptly changes the narrative’s tone from one of contemplation and coming-of-age to this scene of total chaos. We finally see who Richard Parker is – a fully grown Bengal tiger. Martel will explore many ideas on Pi’s lifeboat, but one of the strongest is the fierce will to survive found in all living things. Richard Parker is the first example of this as he swims to the lifeboat.