Pi assures himself that someone knows about the sinking of the Tsimtsum and that rescuers will be arriving soon. He imagines being reunited with his family in only a few hours. The animals are quiet except for the whining hyena. Pi decides to make his spot as secure as he can, and he throws the net over the tarpaulin, creating a flimsy barrier between himself and the animals.
In such a small, cramped space as the lifeboat any kind of boundary is crucial. Pi has already explained how territorial animals are, and now he must basically create tiny zoo enclosures within the lifeboat to try and satisfy each animal and stay alive.
A few hours later the hyena starts acting strangely, running in frenzied laps around the zebra, barking, and looking out into the water. This goes on for a long time and Pi gets worried. Despite his fear Pi eventually grows bored and annoyed by the hyena’s constant whining and running. He muses on how ugly hyenas are.
Pi has also already described how animals love routine and repetition. This abrupt change of setting and situation seems to have driven the hyena mad. It creates its own “order” by repeating the same act over and over again.
Pi remembers facts about hyenas – in packs they can kill even large, strong herd animals. They eat anything and everything, including their own kind during a feeding frenzy. Finally the hyena stops the running and vomits, and then wedges itself into a small space behind the zebra, where it stays for hours.
Pi tries to avoid anthropomorphizing animals, but the hyena seems like a crude, violent creature – in Pi’s human version of his ordeal, the hyena is the foul-mouthed, selfish, and murderous French cook.