The Story of A Human Boy and a Bengal Tiger. The Life of Pi Essay Example
A seemingly endless blue ocean, one Bengal tiger, and limited supplies: this is all sixteen-year-old Pi Patel had to his name. Over the course of two hundred and seventy-seven days, Pi learned how to coexist with a live tiger on a small, corpse-littered lifeboat and survived in the face of death. In Yann Martel's adventure fiction Life of Pi, Richard Parker’s and Pi's relationship was utilized to demonstrate the intricacy of the human mind and how it turns to unordinary coping mechanisms to deal with large amounts of trauma. The complexity of their relationship exists purely on the basis of fear, dependency and emotional attachment; which together proclaims that humans will do whatever it takes to survive, even create alternate realities.
Clammy hands, racing heart, deaf ears, and excessive shaking. Those are all symptoms of fear; a common state of being for anyone stuck on a lifeboat with a live Bengal Tiger for an extended period of time. It seemed obvious that "with a tiger aboard, my [Pi's] life was over" but the exhilaration of having Richard Parker on the boat gave Pi means to fight to survive. Surely without him, he would have succumbed to death far before he reached land. Fear often comes in the most unexpected places. Places no one would think they would find it. In Pi's case, it was not only the fear of inevitable death or the four hundred and fifty-pound tiger but being alone: "I heard a splash. I looked down at the water. I gasped. I thought I was alone"(175). Pi feared Richard Parker, but he feared the cutting edge of loneliness far more. He didn't want to be alone with his thoughts for the more we as humans are subjected to our own deliberations the more apparent they become. Yann Martel placed Richard Parker on the boat to act as a foil; as to put emphasize certain traits in Pi that would otherwise be overlooked at first glance. He materializes as some sense of being, exclusively there to serve as an outward coping mechanism for all the traumatic events he was forced to endure.
Gradually, Richard Parker and Pi came to develop a codependent relationship, each one relying on the other for some means of outward gain. For Pi, he depended on Richard Parker for company and means to continue living while Richard Parker merely depended on Pi for sustenance. It didn't take Pi long to realize that "he could not neglect [Richard Parker] for an instant" for "accommodating him was a priority" (191). The routine of tending to Richard Parker gave Pi a whole new sense of meaning to hold on to until he could get to shore. He fished for Richard Parker and provided him with water and in return, Richard Parker provided him with company and a relative sense of sanity to grasp. Not so similarly, Richard Parker depends on Pi for food and water; "I [Pi] tossed another piece [of fish] over the tarpaulin in front of Richard Parker"(188). Pi provides him with the basic sustenance that he needs for survival. Surely without him, Richard Parker would suffer a slow, painful death.
A human boy and a Bengal tiger; a seemingly unlikely companionship. Through each hardship the two came to overcome together, a sort of convoluted emotional attachment blossomed; though that emotional attachment is most likely spurred by their own self-preservation and need for companionship to relieve a relative sense of sanity. After almost reaching his ultimate demise by the hand of a man driven to insanity by loneliness and hunger, Richard Parker "gave me [Pi] a life, my own, but at the expense of taking one"(255). Richard Parker's protection of Pi conceivably could be seen as some bout of self-preservation but it could also be depicted as an act of love. He very well could have left Pi to die, but he intervened and saved his life. Truly, by the end, Pi comes to love Richard Parker wholeheartedly. After every mind-numbing experience they went through together and arriving to shore; the tiger "moved forward and disappeared forever from my [pi's] life"(285). By the end, Pi became emotionally attached to Richard Parker, seeing him as more of a friend than what he truly was: a ferocious Bengal tiger.
Over the course of the excruciating two hundred and seventy-seven days, Richard Parker's and Pi's relationship sprouted solely on account of fear, dependency and emotional attachment. The human mind, as complex as it is, when faced with its own thoughts are often forced to turn to outward coping mechanisms; such as alternate realities to make due with extreme amounts of trauma. The existence of Richard Parker on the boat put emphasis on Pi, giving distinction to specific traits and feelings harbored in his mind. His presence gave way to show his fear and hopelessness but also to show his hope and love for the world despite his horrific situation.