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CHAPTER SUMMARY FOR LIFE OF PI
Pi’s resources are exhausted. He has nothing left to draw upon. At his absolute lowest, he seeks the highest. “I should turn to God.”
Pi has no reason to be alive. After intermittent cycles of faith and loss of conviction, he ultimately turns to God.
The lifeboat is precariously washed ashore in Mexico. Pi clambers over the side of the lifeboat into the surf. Richard Parker stumbles across the beach into the jungle and disappears without looking back. Without the tiger, Pi feels orphaned, but realizes he is not as he compares the beach to the cheek of God. People find Pi and he weeps for the loss of Richard Parker. He despairs that there wasn’t a proper goodbye to give the story a harmonious shape. A proper conclusion, such as telling Pi’s story in exactly one hundred chapters, allows closure. Pi wishes he had been in Richard Parker’s thoughts as the tiger left. He also regrets to this day that he did not take the opportunity to thank the tiger and wish it, “farewell. God be with you.”
Pi is taken to a village, bathed vigorously and fed. He eats insatiably. He is taken to a hospital and eventually to his foster mother in Canada. Thanks are extended to all those that helped him.
Ironically, this chapter is not about God as the previous chapter implied, but about landfall. It is about how Pi’s story may end imperfectly because of the bungled farewell. Martel rescues that imperfection by telling the story in exactly one hundred chapters as Pi challenged to reader to do, to “conclude things properly.”
Richard Parker is gone. He disappears and no one can prove his existence, yet his presence kept Pi alive. No one can prove God’s existence, yet His presence kept Pi alive. Pi assures the reader that God is not gone because the beach “was like the cheek of God, and somewhere two eyes were glittering with pleasure and a mouth was smiling at having [Pi] there.”
PART THREE - Benito Juarez Infirmary, Tomatlan, Mexico
The author’s voice is back, explaining the round about way Mr. Okamoto and Mr. Chiba of the Maritime Department in the Japanese Ministry of Transport reach Tomatlan. They mistakenly travel by way of Tomatan, fifteen hundred kilometers, a ferry boat ride, and a broken down car from their actual destination of Tomatlan. They arrive at the Benito Juarez Infirmary after forty-one hours of unpleasant travel. They speak to Pi for hours, recording the interview. They give a copy of their tape and a copy of their final report to the author.
The author already mentioned Mr. Okamoto in the acknowledgements at the end of the Author’s Note. Here the reader finds out who he is. The details about the car breaking down augment “reality” as Mr. Okamoto and Mr. Chiba travel to Tomatlan. Tomatlan, actually Boca de Tomatlan (Mouth of the Tomatlan River), is a real place, a four hundred year old fishing village in Jalisco, Mexico.
The Japanese men introduce themselves to Pi and explain that they want information about the sinking of the Tsimtsum. They speak to each other on the side, in Japanese. Politely, they tell Pi that they had a good trip. Pi says that his trip was terrible. The men give Pi, who is always hungry now, a cookie and they begin the interview.
Mr. Chiba addresses Mr. Okamoto as “Okamoto-san,” a term of respect, indicating that Chiba is an underling. “Okamoto” is a brand of Japanese condoms, making the reader wonder if Martel’s Okamoto is going to “protect” his department from Pi’s story.
The survivor Pi tells the same story to the Japanese men that the adult Pi told the author.
Mr. Okamoto and Mr. Chiba request a break. Pi requests another cookie. Aside, in Japanese, the men indicate that they think Pi’s story is crazy. They note that Pi is hoarding the cookies they gave him under his sheets. They humor him with another cookie, and then excuse themselves from the room.
Pi’s food hoarding behavior seems eccentric, if not mad. It is easy for the Japanese men to disbelieve his story. However, having been a castaway for over seven months, stashing food is merely a habit for Pi.