The Role of Richard Parker in Yann Martel’s Life of Pi Essay

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Richard Parker is the character everyone will remember from Life of Pi, if only for the fact that he’s a tiger. He is terrifying, beautiful and apathetic; he’s also possibly half-eaten by sharks at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean without ever having stepped foot in a lifeboat, depending on what story the reader prefers. This poses an interesting question to the reader of the novel; if Richard Parker is only present in one of the stories, the tale with a lifeboat packed with animals, what does he represent in the story devoid of zoo animals entirely? An examination of Richard Parker’s comparison to other characters and actions will reveal that he symbolizes an animalistic side of the titular character. For the purposes of this essay, …show more content…
Therefore, while the Pi of the first story and Richard Parker are both pieces of Pi’s soul, they are very different pieces. The mystery now is what piece of Pi Richard Parker represents. When Pi encounters the blind survivor in the other lifeboat, Richard Parker ends up devouring the blind survivor. Pi says, “I heard the merest clicking of claws against the bottom of the boat, no more than the sound of a pair of spectacles falling to the floor, and the next moment my dear brother shrieked in my face like I’ve never heard a man shriek before. He let go of me. This was the terrible cost of Richard Parker. He gave me a life, my own, but at the expense of taking one. he ripped the flesh off the man’s frame and cracked his bones. The smell of blood filled my nose. Something died in me then that has never come back to life.” (255) One can tell by Pi’s language that he doesn’t want the death of the blind survivor on his hands, even if the man was trying to kill him. Pi calls the survivor “[his] dear brother”, which is significant because one does not go around slaughtering people that are “dear” to oneself. The usage of “dear” implies love, certainly not an emotion that encourages homicide. Pi also calls the death “terrible”, further implying he didn’t want to kill the other survivor. However, despite Pi’s reluctance, Richard Parker “ripped the flesh off the man’s frame and cracked his bones”. That’s a monumental jump from the love Pi felt for his fellow

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