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Life Of Pi Chapter 40 Analysis Essay

Free Study Guide for Life of Pi by Yann Martel-Book Notes/Summary
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Pi clings to the lifebuoy, relieved that Richard Parker has not jumped in the water to eat him. The water is black, rough, and there are sharks within reach. He cannot see Richard Parker under the orange tarpaulin so he wedges an oar under it and pulls himself out of the water. Eventually he slides the lifebuoy onto the oar and around himself.


Pi’s only concern is survival. There are frequent references to the color orange - the whistle, the life jacket, the lifebuoy, the tarpaulin, and Richard Parker. Orange symbolizes survival. It is also the color of the second Hindu chakra (energy center in the body), which is related to water, emotional identity, and the ability to accept change.



Pi carefully inches his way down the oar toward the boat. He reasons that Richard Parker is under the tarpaulin and will not come out if Pi is not in view. Pi pulls himself onto the boat remarking at the exotic beauty of the zebra, and wondering why Richard Parker has not eaten it. Shocked, Pi sees that there is another animal on board, a male spotted hyena. He surmises that the hyena is the reason the crewmen threw Pi into the lifeboat - to get rid of the hyena somehow so that they could safely board. As threatening as the hyena is, though, it is preferable to the tiger, which Pi thinks must have fallen overboard because the two animals would never coexist. Pi drifts, the immense sea and his immense pain consuming him.


Pi is living exclusively in the present. He is not yet considering his future survival, just his immediate circumstance. He has the beauty if the sea and sky around him, but the pain of loss within.



Orange Juice, a female Borneo orangutan (and mother of two sons), drifts toward the lifeboat on a raft of netted bananas. She climbs aboard, dazed. Pi grabs the net, but does not think of salvaging any bananas. The hyena screams.


The variety of animals increases. The reader will soon see the value of Pi’s previous digressions into the particulars of animal behavior.

CHAPTER 43 and 44


Pi is optimistic that there is a furor of rescue activities occurring, and he and Orange Juice will be saved. The hyena jumps on to the tarpaulin briefly, frightening Pi, then discouraged by the expanse of water, retreats. It reemerges, barking and running laps around the zebra. Pi tenses each time it nears him. The hyena continues this interminably, allowing Pi to digress into describing the repulsive nature of hyena appearance and behavior. When it finally stops, the hyena vomits, and then lies in the mess.

Another day dawns and Pi remains suspended on the oar, flies buzzing around him. Toward evening he becomes frightened of what animal activity the night may bring. In the darkness he hears snarling and barking from the other end of the boat, and grunts, possibly from Orange Juice, closer to him. Beneath the boat he could hear even more sounds of predator and prey as they splashed.


The animals are displaying unpredictable, yet natural according to Pi, behaviors. The zebra is helpless, yet still exotic and beautiful. The hyena is at once aggressive and cowardly. It expresses power, and then ends up succumbing to its own involuntary condition. Martel plays on the word “catholic” which in this case describes the hyena’s wide-ranging, universality of taste rather than one of Pi’s religions.

Pi passes another day in “breathless boredom,” and a night in fear.



Pi’s hopes rise with the orange sun and he searches the horizon for the rescue ship where he will be reunited with his family. Within the boat, the hyena is eating the zebra. The piteous zebra is still alive. The rocking of the boat is making Pi nauseous, so he changes his position and is now able to see Orange Juice. She appears terribly seasick and her expression causes Pi to laugh. He is amazed that the hyena has not harmed her, but reasons that they are from such separate origins that they may not recognize each other as predator and prey. A hawksbill turtle swims past and Pi beckons it to alert a ship of Pi’s location.


Pi is still an observer of his situation. He feels rescue is imminent and has no plan for long term survival. He is frightened, amused, and perplexed at his state of affairs. The sky, the sea, and the animals are a backdrop to the rescue scene he anticipates.

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Free Chapter Summary-Life of Pi by Yann Martel-Online Notes


Part 2, Chapter 40

Pi is now in the water, having jumped off the lifeboat to escape Richard Parker as readers saw in Part 2, Chapter 37. He sees a shark in the water and pushes an oar onto the boat's tarpaulin to get himself above the surface. Richard Parker, the tiger, is in the lifeboat under the tarpaulin. Holding onto the oar, Pi floats safely through the night.

Part 2, Chapter 41

Pi watches the cargo ship sink completely and scans his surroundings for survivors or rescuers. He figures he's safe from the tiger below the tarpaulin if he stays out of Richard Parker's vision. The zebra, still on the boat, has a broken leg. Pi can't believe the zebra has survived Richard Parker's presence—until he notices the hyena. A hyena and a tiger can't share such a small space. He also realizes the ship's crew members threw the hyena overboard from the sinking ship, hoping it would kill Pi and save space for themselves in the lifeboat.

The weather changes quickly. It is now sunny and warm on the Pacific Ocean. Pi looks around again for other lifeboats but sees none.

Part 2, Chapter 42

Pi is happy to see the zoo's prized Borneo orangutan, Orange Juice, floating toward him on "an island of bananas." He knows he and Orange Juice will both die soon, but he's glad for the company. Orange Juice is surrounded by spiders and traveling on a nylon net. Pi says the net will later become one of his most precious possessions. He will also deeply regret not taking any of the bananas when he had the chance. Orange Juice joins him on the lifeboat.


To save himself Pi relies first on his animal instincts, then on his brain. He admits he would have drowned if he considered his situation in "the light of reason" but he held on through faith, and "God only knows why." He needs both faith and reason to survive, however. When he uses reason as a tool for his benefit, it won't make him lose hope; it will save him instead.

Part 2, Chapter 40 begins to focus on water as a destructive power: "forbidding, beautiful and dangerous." The water is "black and cold and in a rage"—an enemy to be defeated. Sharks are introduced, and they'll resurface.

Martel has said he wanted to portray three human traits in the three animals initially on the lifeboat with Pi and Richard Parker. The hyena represents "cowardliness," the zebra "exoticism," while the orangutan, Orange Juice, stands for "maternal instincts." Orange Juice, in the color Pi associates with salvation and survival, is bathed in light like a religious vision. The image is so allegorical and symbolic Japanese officials will challenge its truth much later by saying bananas don't float. Orange Juice is clearly maternal as the "Great Mother" and "Pondicherry fertility goddess." Even the spiders gather around her like "malevolent worshippers."

Pi recognizes another human trait in Part 2, Chapter 41: self-preservation to the point of depravity. The crew members were trying to kill him. He's more concerned with the hyena, who has no moral code and no reason not to kill. Its scream indicates things will soon turn for the worse.

Pi is about to begin a true adventure, though not one he would have chosen—one complete with risks and decisions between fear and reason. He will travel "around the world in eighty swells," a reference to Jules Verne's adventure story Around the World in Eighty Days.

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