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CHAPTER SUMMARY FOR LIFE OF PI
Pi is awestruck by a spectacular lightning storm. He tries to share his wonder with Richard Parker, but the tiger is trembling with fright. Pi describes the light as overwhelming and penetrating and he is not afraid. He praises Allah (Muslim word for God) and tries to get Richard Parker to share his joy. Pi is happy.
Occurrences such as this are what keep Pi going. As he described earlier, he gleans happiness from any source he can. This is a moment of divine wonder for Pi. He praises God and is happy.
Pi sees a ship! With uncontrollable happiness Pi envisions his family safe in Canada where he will join them. He is amazed at the size of the tanker as it approaches, and then realizes in horror that it is about the hit the lifeboat. Rowing frantically, Pi maneuvers the lifeboat slightly so the tanker misses it by less than two feet. He fires a flare that hits the side of the ship. The ship passes by, noisily. Pi is unable to get anyone’s attention. Richard Parker seems to be aware that something important has happened, but is more concerned with resuming his nap. Pi bursts out with professions of love for Richard Parker, his only companion, and promises to get the tiger to land.
This is the event presaged by Pi in Chapter 69. A ship has cut into his tiny circle, but did not see him. Pi is over having to constantly assert his position as super-alpha male. He sees Richard Parker as his companion and his salvation.
Pi uses a wet cloth he calls his “dream rag” to cover his face, impeding his air intake so he falls into amazing dreams. This passes the time and allows Pi a temporary escape.
Chapter 81 convinces the reader of the factuality of Pi’s story. Now, Chapter 87 suggests that some “remembrances” are induced by the “dream rag.” However, using the simple language of a boy and providing such detailed descriptions keeps the reader believing.
The lifeboat drifts into a mass of trash. It is revolting and foul. The odor remains on the wind for a long time. Pi salvages only a wine bottle. He writes a message explaining his predicament, corks and seals the bottle, and launches it out to sea.
Pi sees the glory of God in all of the obstacles nature presents. He has nothing praiseworthy to say about this man-made mass of garbage. He does, however, indicate that he still has hope and places that hope in the bottle.
All that Pi has is deteriorating rapidly. Even the bright orange items have faded to almost white. The sun is so brutal it even burns off smells. Richard Parker is as withered as Pi. He makes a last entry in his diary before the pens runs out. He writes of his wasted condition. He and Richard Parker will die soon. Rain brings momentary salvation, but the tiger does not respond to it. Pi touches him to see if he is still alive. It is an amazing experience to touch a tiger. Pi gives up. “It’s no use. Today I die. I will die today. I die.”
The bright orange of survival has faded. Pi has nothing left, physically or mentally. Yet the feel of the tiger is amazing. At the brink of death, Pi is still grateful for Richard Parker.