When Pi wakes up he realizes he has to deal with the reality of Richard Parker. He recognizes his own inevitable death and starts to cry, but then something within himself steels itself for survival. He prays and promises not to die, realizing that he has a very strong instinct for staying alive. Pi starts constructing a raft so he can put some distance between himself and Richard Parker. He uses the oars, the lifebuoy, and life jackets. He has to enter the tiger’s den for the lifejackets, and does so.
Pi’s recognition of his own seemingly inevitable death gives him the freedom to act without fear of consequences, as his situation could not get any worse. Just as religious faith must often move outside of reason, so the will to live must also go against reason sometimes – Pi has no reasonable hope of surviving, but he decides to struggle on nonetheless.
Pi lashes his raft together with the rope, and as he works the hyena starts to whine and Richard Parker growls. Suddenly the tiger kills the hyena, who dies without a sound or a struggle. Richard Parker then turns and looks at Pi, who is struck by the tiger’s power, beauty, and grace. Richard Parker bares his teeth and prepares to attack, and at that moment a rat climbs up onto Pi’s head.
All the other elements have now been removed from the story, and only the boy, the tiger, and the Pacific remain. In Pi’s human version of the story, this scene involves Pi himself killing the French cook, leaving him totally alone on the lifeboat.
Richard Parker approaches Pi, who prepares for death, but the tiger is distracted by the softness of the tarpaulin and the rolling of the lifeboat. In this moment of hesitation Pi grabs the rat and throws it to the tiger. Richard Parker eats the rat and seems satisfied, and he turns back to devour the hyena. Pi notices some vomit on the boat floor and realizes that Richard Parker has indeed been seasick.
Pi keeps accepting his death and then being given reasons to hope. He gets the first inclination of how he will “tame” Richard Parker by throwing him the rat, and he learns that the tiger does have a weakness in seasickness.
Pi finishes his raft, ties it to the lifeboat with a rope, and steps onto it. It proves seaworthy, but Pi is floating just inches above several sharks. The raft gets pulled along by the lifeboat, and Pi continually checks his knots. It starts to rain and Pi uses the raincatchers to gather water. Night falls.
Pi has now created his own small territory. The raft is divided from Richard Parker and the sharks by the flimsiest of boundaries, but for now it is enough to save him.