Life of Pi

Life of Pi

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A three-year-old male royal Bengal tiger who is Pi’s companion on the lifeboat. Richard Parker was captured as a cub by a hunter named Richard Parker, but in the accompanying paperwork the tiger’s name was switched with the hunter’s. The tiger is the epitome of beauty, power, and danger, and he and Pi live in respective territories on the lifeboat. When they reach Mexico, Richard Parker disappears into the jungle without looking back. This “botched goodbye” pains Pi for the rest of his life. In Pi’s second account of his ordeal Richard Parker is actually a part of Pi himself, and a representation of the violent things Pi had to do in order to survive.

Richard Parker Quotes in Life of Pi

The Life of Pi quotes below are all either spoken by Richard Parker or refer to Richard Parker . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Survival Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harcourt edition of Life of Pi published in 2001.
Chapter 49 Quotes

To be afraid of this ridiculous dog when there was a tiger about was like being afraid of splinters when trees are falling down. I became very angry at the animal. “You ugly, foul creature,” I muttered. The only reason I didn’t stand up and beat it off the lifeboat with a stick was lack of strength and stick, not lack of heart.

Did the hyena sense something of my mastery? Did it say to itself, “Super alpha is watching me – I better not move?” I don’t know. At any rate, it didn’t move.

Related Characters: Piscine Molitor Patel (Pi) (speaker), Richard Parker , The Hyena
Page Number: 136
Explanation and Analysis:

In this interesting passage, Pi comes to realize that his problems are bigger than he thought. There's a huge tiger, Richard Parker, in his boat, hidden beneath a tarp. The tiger is an enormous, dangerous animal--the other animal on his boat, a hyena, is tiny and pathetic by contrast. Pi begins to despise the hyena, and even imagines beating it away with a stick out of pure anger and disgust.

The passage shows Pi beginning to master his surroundings. Paradoxically, his awareness of a greater danger--the tiger--helps him gain more control over the smaller, more manageable dangers in his life, such as the hyena. Critics have interpreted Pi's boat as a metaphor for the human consciousness (a fact signaled by the original cover art for the book). Thus, one could say that Pi, the rational human, being learns to master his own anxieties and neuroses (the hyena) by accepting the fact of his own inevitable death (symbolized by the tiger).

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Chapter 57 Quotes

I had to tame him. It was at that moment that I realized this necessity. It was not a question of him or me, but of him and me. We were, literally and figuratively, in the same boat. We would live – or die – together…
But there’s more to it. I will come clean. I will tell you a secret: a part of me was glad about Richard Parker. A part of me did not want Richard Parker to die at all, because if he died I would be left alone with despair, a foe even more formidable than a tiger. If I still had the will to live, it was thanks to Richard Parker… It’s the plain truth: without Richard Parker, I wouldn’t be alive today to tell you my story.

Related Characters: Piscine Molitor Patel (Pi) (speaker), Richard Parker
Page Number: 164
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Pi gives arguably his most eloquent explanation of what Richard Parker truly represents. As dangerous as Richard Parker the tiger might be, Pi admits that he wanted to keep him alive--he and Richard Parker were two sides of the same coin, trapped in the same place. Without Richard Parker, Pi would have no companion--thus, he respected Richard Parker and accepted that Richard Parker was a part of him.

The passage is also one of the best pieces of evidence that Pi and Richard Parker, trapped in the boat together, symbolize the workings of the human mind (and in the "reinterpreted" version of events at the novel's end, Richard Parker truly is a representative of Pi's survival instincts and "savage" self). Pi cannot sever himself from his own aggressive instincts--just as rationality and aggression, ego and id, are just different parts of the same person. In general, Pi emphasizes the importance of connection and cooperation: it is human nature to look for friendship and connection, even in a tiger--indeed, connection is a basic human need, as basic as food or shelter. So even if Richard Parker doesn't literally exist in the final, factual version of events, the story of and belief in his existence is what truly kept Pi alive during his incredible ordeal.

Chapter 80 Quotes

For two, perhaps three seconds, a terrific battle of minds for status and authority was waged between a boy and a tiger. He needed to make only the shortest of lunges to be on top of me. But I held my stare.
Richard Parker licked his nose, groaned and turned away. He angrily batted a flying fish. I had won…
From that day onwards I felt my mastery was no longer in question, and I began to spend progressively more time on the lifeboat… I was still scared of Richard Parker, but only when it was necessary. His simple presence no longer strained me. You can get used to anything – haven’t I already said that? Isn’t that what all survivors say?

Related Characters: Piscine Molitor Patel (Pi) (speaker), Richard Parker
Page Number: 222-223
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, Pi faces off against Richard Parker, and wins. Having just caught a dorado (fish) that jumped into the boat, Pi stares Richard Parker (who's suddenly gone into attack position) in the eyes, knowing that there's a good chance he could be killed and eaten in competition for the fish. Yet Pi's reckless bravery and willingness to sacrifice his life intimidates Richard Parker into submission, reaffirming Pi as the "alpha" on the lifeboat.

Pi here further learns to control the "territory" of the lifeboat, dominating Richard Parker with his own confidence and bravery. By the same token, Pi learns to master his own fears and anxieties, again transcending death by accepting death. The passage closes by reinforcing something we already knew: Pi is the ultimate adapter. He embraces multiple religions at once, and learns to control Richard Parker because of his fundamental desire to survive. In short, Pi learns to carve out a place for himself in the universe, rather than accept defeat and die.

Chapter 82 Quotes

It came as an unmistakable indication to me of how low I had sunk the day I noticed, with a pinching of the heart, that I ate like an animal, that this noisy, frantic, unchewing wolfing-down of mine was exactly the way Richard Parker ate.

Related Characters: Piscine Molitor Patel (Pi) (speaker), Richard Parker
Page Number: 225
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Pi again reaches a moment self-awareness. He's been fighting against Richard Parker throughout the novel--but here, he realizes that he is becoming Richard Parker. In other words, Pi is becoming an animal--wild, selfish, violent, etc.--in the process of trying to survive.

It's important to note that Pi's "sins" don't seem all that bad. Pi hasn't hurt anyone or threatened anyone. The change he's describing is mental and psychological, not external. The broader irony here is that Pi has learned to dominate Richard Parker by showing that he's not afraid of death--yet in the process, he's fallen to Richard Parker's level (and in one interpretation, he's always been Richard Parker). Pi holds himself to the highest standards, even when he's stranded at sea; he refuses to accept his own inner greed, even when a little greed seems totally appropriate.

Chapter 85 Quotes

I was dazed, thunderstruck – nearly in the true sense of the word. But not afraid.
“Praise be to Allah, Lord of All Worlds, the Compassionate, the Merciful, Ruler of Judgment Day!” I muttered. To Richard Parker I shouted, “Stop your trembling! This is miracle. This is an outbreak of divinity. This is… this is…” I could not find what it was, this thing so vast and fantastic… I remember that close encounter with electrocution and third-degree burns as one of the few times during my ordeal when I felt genuine happiness.

Related Characters: Piscine Molitor Patel (Pi) (speaker), Richard Parker
Page Number: 233
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Pi thinks he's getting a sign straight from God--a bolt of lightning that strikes the surface of the ocean in the middle of a storm. Richard Parker the tiger is frightened of the lightning--a purely instinctual, self-interested beast, Richard naturally recoils from such a dangerous natural phenomenon. Pi is a different kind of creature altogether: because he lives so close to death, and in some ways has accepted the inevitability of his own death, he embraces the savage beauty of the bolt of lightning, and even gets happiness and a sense of the religious "sublime" from witnessing it.

Even in the midst of a crisis, Pi is a curious person. He respects the beauty of the universe in all its forms, even when the "beauty" comes in an unusual or terrifying form (a tiger, a lightning storm, etc.). He sees God in the most unlikely of places, and gets great pleasure from doing so--experiencing joy in seeing that there is something larger than himself, forces far more powerful and vast than his own tiny lifeboat.

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Richard Parker Character Timeline in Life of Pi

The timeline below shows where the character Richard Parker appears in Life of Pi. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Boundaries Theme Icon
...He says that he loves Canada but misses India, and he especially misses someone named Richard Parker . (full context)
Chapter 12
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...adult Pi’s tales are still interrupted by his own memories. The author says that “ Richard Parker still preys” on Pi’s mind. The author made the mistake of telling Pi that he... (full context)
Chapter 33
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...but almost nothing from India. There are only four random photos, one containing the mysterious Richard Parker . None of the pictures have Pi’s mother in them, and Pi says that he... (full context)
Chapter 37
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 40
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The story moves forward, to the point just after Pi jumped overboard to escape Richard Parker . Pi clings to a fallen oar and then finds a lifebuoy. He climbs onto... (full context)
Chapter 41
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...getting sore and wants to be able to look for other lifeboats. He assumes that Richard Parker is hiding under the lifeboat’s tarpaulin. Pi climbs atop the tarpaulin, expecting the tiger to... (full context)
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...its back leg is gruesomely broken. Pi admires the dying creature’s beauty and wonders why Richard Parker hasn’t killed it yet. Then a hyena appears from under the tarpaulin. Pi assumes that... (full context)
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...for themselves. Pi is afraid of the hyena but less so than he was of Richard Parker . He decides he prefers the “upfront ferocity of a dog” to the silent, stealthy... (full context)
Chapter 47
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 48
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Pi tells the story of Richard Parker ’s origins. A panther had been killing people near Bangladesh, so the locals called in... (full context)
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In the paperwork sent along with the tigers, the hunter’s name, which was Richard Parker , got mixed up with the name the hunter gave to the cub, which was... (full context)
Chapter 49
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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... (full context)
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...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,... (full context)
Chapter 50
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...feet long and eight feet wide, painted white, and fitted with benches, oars, and oarlocks. Richard Parker ’s territory is under the tarpaulin on the boat’s front half, while the hyena occupies... (full context)
Chapter 53
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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... (full context)
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...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.... (full context)
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Richard Parker approaches Pi, who prepares for death, but the tiger is distracted by the softness of... (full context)
Chapter 54
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...cold and wet and unable to sleep. He begins coming up with plans to kill Richard Parker . He considers pushing him off the lifeboat or attacking him, but rejects these as... (full context)
Chapter 55
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...his raft is too flimsy to last long. He thinks of his plan to outlast Richard Parker , but then remembers that tigers can drink salt water, and he realizes that if... (full context)
Chapter 57
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Pi is cured of his hopelessness and terror by Richard Parker himself. The tiger seems sated with rainwater and hyena, and he looks at Pi and... (full context)
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Pi admits that part of him is glad that Richard Parker is still alive, as he is a companion and a distraction from grief and insanity.... (full context)
Chapter 58
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...only two and a half miles away. After reading it Pi resolves to continue with Richard Parker ’s training regimen, to improve the raft, to build himself a shelter, and to stop... (full context)
Chapter 59
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Pi’s hunger and thirst overcome his depression, and he climbs onto the lifeboat. Richard Parker is under the tarpaulin. The lifeboat is rolling in a different direction now, which seems... (full context)
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Pi smells urine and realizes that Richard Parker has marked his territory by urinating below the tarpaulin. Pi is comforted by this, as... (full context)
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Pi eats more rations, feeling hopeful and admiring the beauty of the sky and sea. Richard Parker appears and makes the prusten sound again. Pi hears a splash and looks down into... (full context)
Chapter 61
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...Despite his new hope Pi realizes that he needs to find food and water for Richard Parker soon, or he risks being killed. After a few hours of growing despair Pi climbs... (full context)
Survival Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
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...school of flying fish then leaps into and over the boat, some of them hitting Richard Parker . Pi throws fish to the tiger as a “treat” to help tame him. Pi... (full context)
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...quickly people can get used to things – even killing. Pi throws the dorado to Richard Parker and blows the whistle as the tiger eats, hoping to show that he is the... (full context)
Chapter 63
Survival Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
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...to his survival. He lists his daily chores and activities, which included feeding himself and Richard Parker , praying, and keeping his raft and equipment properly functioning. Pi also spends hours just... (full context)
Chapter 68
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...survives on very little sleep, and usually only gets about an hour at a time. Richard Parker , on the other hand, sleeps all the time in various favorite positions. (full context)
Chapter 70
Survival Theme Icon
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...on the raft, so he has to pull it onto the tarpaulin of the lifeboat. Richard Parker growls but allows it. The survival manual had suggested that turtle blood was good to... (full context)
Chapter 71
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...sea anchor to make the lifeboat roll in the way that makes the animal ( Richard Parker ) seasick. Then one should blow a whistle furiously and stomp, and when the animal... (full context)
Chapter 72
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...from a turtle shell to protect him during these training sessions. On his first attempt Richard Parker charges him and knocks him into the water. Terrified, Pi swims to the raft and... (full context)
Chapter 73
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...track of dates or time. He mostly writes about practical things like the weather and Richard Parker ’s activities. (full context)
Chapter 74
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...his suffering. Sometimes he places himself within creation by labelling the sky “God’s ear” or Richard Parker “God’s cat.” Pi still has to battle regularly with despair, but always his faith overcomes. (full context)
Chapter 76
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Pi also cleans up after Richard Parker , as living among his own feces could make the tiger sick. Richard Parker starts... (full context)
Chapter 77
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...views anything and everything as food. In a moment of desperation Pi tries to eat Richard Parker ’s feces, but he can immediately tell that there is no nutrition in it. Soon... (full context)
Chapter 79
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...tail as it is swimming by and pulls it aboard, and immediately throws it into Richard Parker ’s territory. Richard Parker starts striking the shark with his paws, and he accidentally gets... (full context)
Chapter 80
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...into the boat while chasing flying fish. Pi picks up the stunned fish, rejoicing, but Richard Parker sees the dorado in Pi’s hands and goes into an attack position. Pi fears he... (full context)
Chapter 81
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...his survival is hard to believe, but he explains how he maintained his dominance over Richard Parker . He was the tiger’s main source of food and water, and Richard Parker was... (full context)
Chapter 82
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...in bags, and he worries constantly that the bags will break. He adds seawater to Richard Parker ’s water, but even so they both barely survive. Whenever Pi catches food he always... (full context)
Chapter 83
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...he unrolls the tarpaulin and gets under it, lying flat on the bench farthest from Richard Parker . He gradually closes the tarpaulin over both himself and the tiger, as the life... (full context)
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...life jacket, and he is devastated by this. None of Pi’s water bags split, and Richard Parker is disgruntled but alive. Pi mends the torn tarpaulin, and then bails the water out... (full context)
Chapter 85
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...the lifeboat. Pi grows ecstatic at the sight and praises God for this “miracle,” but Richard Parker cowers trembling on the floor of the boat. Pi remembers this storm and his feeling... (full context)
Chapter 86
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...and soon it is gone, disappearing over the horizon. Afterward Pi professes his love for Richard Parker and promises to find land. (full context)
Chapter 89
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...constant sun and salt continues to wear down everything on the lifeboat, including Pi and Richard Parker . They both become skeletally thin, and Pi starts sleeping away most of the day,... (full context)
Chapter 90
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One day Richard Parker seems to go blind. Pi throws a dorado at him and it smacks into the... (full context)
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Pi feels death approaching and he bids a vocal farewell to Richard Parker . He hears a voice answer him. Surprised, Pi begins a conversation with the voice,... (full context)
Pi asks Richard Parker if he has ever killed a man, and the voice says that he has killed... (full context)
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...wakes up and hears the voice again, and he realizes that it doesn’t belong to Richard Parker at all, but instead to another castaway. Pi shouts out his own name and the... (full context)
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...eat his flesh. As soon as the man touches the floor of the boat, however, Richard Parker kills him. Pi is traumatized by the castaway’s dying scream, and the “terrible cost” of... (full context)
Chapter 92
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...himself to the nearest tree, as he is too weak to walk. Pi praises God. Richard Parker finally leaps from the lifeboat as well and disappears among the trees. (full context)
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...day in bliss, but he returns to his “territory” on the lifeboat at night. Later Richard Parker returns to the lifeboat as well. Pi has a very restful sleep, and the next... (full context)
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Richard Parker returns to his former strength and speed, and Pi’s fear of him returns when he... (full context)
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Suddenly the meerkats all turn and Pi sees Richard Parker in the distance, killing hundreds of them at his leisure. They don’t even run away,... (full context)
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One day Pi is exploring the forest when he comes across Richard Parker . Afterwards he takes up the taming process again, and he soon trains the tiger... (full context)
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...island. Pi fills the lifeboat with dead fish, meerkats, and algae, and he waits for Richard Parker to come aboard at night to before pushing off. (full context)
Chapter 94
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...the lifeboat through the breakers and then carefully lets himself down into the shallow surf. Richard Parker leaps over his head and walks slowly and clumsily down the beach. Pi is sure... (full context)
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Pi crawls ashore and sprawls in the sand, feeling totally alone now that even Richard Parker has left him forever. A few hours later some people find him and carry him... (full context)
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Pi says that this “bungled goodbye” with Richard Parker has pained him all his life, and he wishes that he had at least thanked... (full context)
Chapter 99
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Okamoto moves on, challenging Pi about Richard Parker . He says that no one has spotted a tiger in the area lately. Pi... (full context)
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...with the Chinese sailor, the hyena with the cook, Orange Juice with Pi’s mother, and Richard Parker with Pi himself. Chiba asks Okamoto about the meerkats and the algae island, but Okamoto... (full context)
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...to cry. The officials thank Pi and wish him well, promising to look out for Richard Parker on their drive. Pi gives them some cookies and the interview ends. (full context)