In the morning the zebra is still alive, though its insides are spilled half-eaten all around it. It finally dies around noon. A few hours later the tension between the hyena and Orange Juice grows again, and then the hyena attacks. Orange Juice thumps the hyena hard on the head, shocking and inspiring Pi with her spirit.
Pi assumed he knew Orange Juice’s personality, but now he is reminded that she is a wild animal and so subject to instinct, and can be violent when provoked. Because these events might also be taking place with humans (as Pi’s later story implies), it also shows how humans can become “wild” and dangerous when threatened.
Orange Juice is no match for the larger, predatory hyena though, and it bites her throat and then severs her head. Pi walks forward onto the lifeboat and sees her headless body with its arms outstretched like Christ on the cross. Weeping, Pi prepares for a fight to the death with the hyena, but then he suddenly sees Richard Parker’s head underneath a bench. Pi goes back to the bow of the boat and collapses into a delirious sleep.
The image of Orange Juice’s headless body is one of total horror, as the orangutan was a sympathetic animal and her final pose seems like a mockery of Pi’s faith. He is totally alone now, seemingly robbed of companionship and religious comfort. Tellingly it is at that moment that Richard Parker appears – especially if the tiger is actually the brutal part of Pi’s own soul.