The next day Pi wakes up feeling strong and rested. He cuts up his leather shoe and tries using it as bait on the fishing tackle, but he has no success. 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 onto the lifeboat to look for bait. He finds himself staring straight into Richard Parker’s eyes, but at that moment Pi is struck on the face by a flying fish.
The manmade tools Pi finds (like the solar stills) certainly help him survive, but he still must rely on nature and luck. The fishing tackle fails and he is only saved by a chance school of flying fish. Richard Parker’s “prusten” feelings last only while he is being fed and watered.
A whole 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 realizes that the fish are being chased by dorados. Richard Parker eats his fill of flying fish. Pi gathers up some fish and tries to make himself kill one, but this is very difficult, as he has been a pacifist and vegetarian all his life.
Pi has been growing more animalistic in his actions (like using his urine to mark his territory) but he still clings to his humanity in many ways, the most notable being this unwillingness to kill another living thing even when he is starving. But in the end hunger wins out.
Pi finally wraps the flying fish in a blanket and breaks its neck, weeping. He feels that he has committed a great sin, but after the fish is dead Pi finds it easier to cut it up and use it for bait. He hooks a three-foot-long dorado, fights it, and brings it into the boat. He admires the fish’s beautiful colors, and thanks Vishnu for “taking the form of a fish.”
In Pi’s “human version” of his story he has already killed and eaten the French cook by this point, and now is weeping over a flying fish. It may be that Pi projected his first kill onto a later date, or that he has so thoroughly cut off the “Richard Parker” side of his soul that the “Pi” side remains pacifistic and vegetarian.
Pi kills the dorado with a hatchet from the locker. He finds it much easier to kill for the second time, and he muses sadly on how 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 alpha who provides food. Night comes again and Pi returns to his raft.
Pi’s realization that he can quickly get used to anything is very important. In this way Martel gradually lowers Pi’s humanity, as Pi gets used to new levels of savagery as his desperation grows. Pi uses the same repetition and confidence that he used to “train” his classmates to call him “Pi.”