Back on the lifeboat Pi wakes up and accepts that Richard Parker really is present on the boat with him. He wonders at how such a huge animal stayed hidden for so long. Pi basically loses hope, as he knows he has no chance of surviving anymore. He decides to let the tiger kill him when it wants to, and in the meantime he wants to quench his raging thirst.
Pi has already presented the story of the panther in Zurich to set up Richard Parker’s ability to stay undiscovered. Pi gains a kind of courage by accepting the hopelessness of his situation – he can take action now that he is no longer paralyzed by uncertainty.
Pi explores the lifeboat, looking for supplies. He notices that he is no longer afraid of the hyena, as it seems like a “ridiculous dog” when compared to Richard Parker. Pi now understands why the hyena had confined itself to such a small space, and had waited so long to kill the zebra – it didn’t want to upset the tiger. Pi decides that Richard Parker must be sedated and seasick, or else he would have become active much earlier.
The hyena has been acting so strangely because it confined itself to a tiny territory, trying to avoid crossing into Richard Parker’s territory and being killed. Richard Parker is under the tarpaulin, which acts as the main boundary within the lifeboat.