Summary and Analysis
Chapter 92: The Island
Pi and Richard Parker come to an island populated only by meerkats. At first Pi remains close to shore and sleeps in the trees while Richard Parker spends nights in the lifeboat. Eating algae and other sweet plants, Pi slowly regains his strength and his ability to walk. Richard Parker, on the other hand, disappears into the foliage every day and comes back to the lifeboat reinvigorated. The mystery of Richard Parker’s journeys into the island’s interior is solved when Pi finally has the strength to explore the island and discovers its incredible population of meerkats, vulnerable but, up until now, without any natural predators. Richard Parker eats his fill every day, and Pi is able to revert back to his vegetarian ways with great satisfaction.
However, in time Pi makes the disturbing discovery that the
island itself is actually a predator. At night the ground becomes charged and
lethal, killing and consuming anything on or below its surface. Pi arrives at this
conclusion when, pulling back the layers of what he thinks is a piece of fruit,
he finds a human tooth. He decides that he must leave the island and will take
Richard Parker with him. Without the boat, Richard Parker would have no safe
place during the night hours and surely would be consumed by the island.
The island appears to be a perfect place—a utopia—but its
ideal appearance masks a dark side that makes it a dystopia. This reversal is a
common thread in literature, a major feature of such novels as Gulliver’s Travels, Animal Farm, and The Giver.
Note also that the island at first seems like a biblical Eden, without any
vermin, disease, or unhappiness. However, Pi’s discovery of the human tooth in
the fruit—again an allusion to Eden and the Tree of Knowledge—causes Pi to cast
himself and Richard Parker from this dystopian, seemingly Edenic island.
The Christ metaphor is very apparent in this chapter. When
Pi first arrives at the island, he climbs from the lifeboat into water but discovers
that he does not sink as he walks but rather is buoyed by the plants and roots
just below the surface. He literally walks on water. Later, as he communes with
nature, praising both Allah and God, he states, “I wept,” clearly an allusion
to the shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept.” Martel goes so far as to write
“Meekness ruled,” meaning that there on the island, finally, the meek have
inherited the earth. Pi also indicates that on the island he returns to life.
It is a sort of resurrection for him, though on this dystopian island it proves