By Martel Yann
By Martel Yann
Yann Martel was born in Spain in 1963. His Canadian parents joined the Canadian Foreign Services which caused his family to move around a lot. After graduating high school Martel attended Trent University in Ontario, which is where he developed his passion for writing. Upon graduating from college in 1985, Martel was determined to be a successful writer though the process was quite slow for him. He worked a number of odd jobs and lived with his parents for a time while he was trying to get his big break. He published a series of short stories in 1993 and a novel in 1996 which were unsuccessful; however, in 2002 he finally made his mark with “Life of Pi” which earned him the esteemed Man Booker Prize.
“Life of Pi” occurs during the Emergency period of Indian history. This period began in 1975 when Indira Gandhi was ordered to resign from office due to some charges from her 1971 election which she was found guilty of. Rather than resign, Gandhi declared a state of emergency and gave herself the power to rule by decree for a period that lasted eighteen months. This period of time has been controversial because while the rights of the Indian people were violated and certain politicians were abused and tortured, the economy of India achieved a much-needed stabilization. While the novel does not exclusively take place in India, the struggles of the Indian people and the paranoia and fear that was instilled in them is clearly evident.
Pi Patel is a young man born in India. He is extremely intelligent and is curious about many different areas of life, especially religion. He decides that he wishes to follow three religions: Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity, to the confusion of his family members. Pi’s father owns a zoo and Pi is intrigued and intensely understanding of the animals which are kept there. As India is going through a particularly troubling political time, Pi’s father decides that the family should move to Canada to get away from the friction within their own country. Pi’s father sells some of the animals but loads some others onto the cargo ship which will take the family to Canada. One night the ship suffers an unidentified accident and begins to sink. Pi finds himself on a lifeboat in the water, fearing for his life, with a hyena, a rare zebra, an orangutan named Orange Juice, and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.
As circumstances unfold, the animals die until it is only Pi and Richard Parker who are left. Pi becomes quite the survivalist: catching fish, building rafts, creating shelter, performing chores, eating like a savage, and training the tiger. Pi slowly begins to wither away and becomes delirious, imagining a French cannibal and an island full of meerkats and fruit containing human teeth. Eventually, after more than 200 days at sea, the lifeboat washes up on the shore of Mexico and Pi is rescued; though Richard Parker runs off and is never seen again. Pi must tell his story to two men who are investigating the sinking of the ship and it is up to them to decide if the story is true, or if the second version involving only humans and no animals is in fact the truth.
When Pi is out at sea all he can think of is the best way for him to survive, or at times the easiest way for him to die. Pi manages to keep himself out of the danger of the sharks in the water and at the safest point possible in the lifeboat. When it comes down to just he and Richard Parker Pi abandons his vegetarianism to eat fish because he knows it is the only way to save himself as well as the tiger. He becomes quite the outdoorsman and manages to keep himself alive for 227 days no matter what he had to do to make it happen.
Pi is very interested in religion and embraces any religion which answers to a God. He was born into Hinduism, but when he is fourteen he ads Christianity to the mix and then when he is fifteen he follows Islam. The religious officials do not approve of Pi’s practicing of multiple religions, but Pi thinks that people who get angry about matters involving religion are missing the entire point of practicing religion to begin with. While he is out to sea, Pi does not forget about his religious beliefs and instead modifies his rituals to work for him in his current state.
Pi has always embraced nature and had a deep understanding for the wilderness. Pi speaks of the animals at the Pondicherry zoo as though they are human in some way and he appreciates them. When Pi is stranded at sea he has no choice but to embrace nature because he is becoming an active participant in it; at one point, Pi mentions that he has begun to eat like a savage. He starts to notice all of the marine life and to see the differences in the many species he encounters. Pi truly becomes one with nature when he has no other choice if he wants to survive.
Suffering is seen in Pi as well as the other animals on the lifeboat. Pi suffers mainly emotionally. He has lost his family and does not think he will ever see them again, he thinks there is a strong possibility that he will be killed by the wild animals at any moment, and eventually he suffers from delirium, as well. The zebra suffers from a broken leg and then is eaten alive by the hyena and barely clinging to life for two days before it finally expires. Orange Juice is suffering emotionally, just like Pi, because she cannot find her children, and Richard Parker is suffering physically from sea sickness.
Pi’s fear in his first days on the lifeboat is nearly debilitating. He is terrified that the ship he is on has just sunk, he is sure that his entire family has gone down with the ship, and he is sure that the wild animals either on the boat or in the water are going to eat him. Pi does not know what to do for several days but let himself sit there and hope to be rescued before he is killed. Pi’s fear for the rest of the time he is at sea is not nearly as severe as those first couple of days, but there is always the underlying terror of starving to death, being eaten by a tiger or a cannibal, or drowning.
Pi is surrounded by death in his time at sea, some of it out of his control and some of it at his own hands. Pi loses his entire family, and it is possible that his mother was decapitated right in front of him if the human version of the story is to be believed. He witnesses the savage death of the zebra/sailor and then the attack of the hyena/cook either by Richard Parker or by himself, depending on which side of the story really happened. Pi, who has been a vegetarian all his life, is forced to kill other animals to ensure his own survival, and he gets very emotional when he is forced to do so because he is a pacifist.
As the end of Pi’s time at sea nears he becomes delirious. Despite having a decent amount of food and water at his disposal Pi begins to suffer from the effects of starvation, dehydration, and sun exposure. He believes that he has gone blind and that he hears the voice of a Frenchman speaking to him about meat and brains. He wonders if the voice belongs to Richard Parker but does not understand why a tiger would have a French accent. It is unknown whether Pi imagined all of this out of his delirium or if the Frenchman was really a man who nearly cannibalized Pi.
Storytelling plays a huge role in this novel though it is not known how important it is until the end. Pi tells an amazing story of survival against the odds alongside a Bengal tiger who he trained to not kill him. When the Japanese men doubt Pi’s story, he tells them another which is nearly the same only the wild animals are replaced with actual people who eat and kill one another and asks the men which story is better. The men admit that while the story with the humans seems more realistic, and is probably the true one, the story with the animals is the “better story” and is the one that they decide to share with others.
The wildlife in this novel at first represents the animals at the zoo, and then the animals that are stuck on the lifeboat with Pi, then the animals that Pi finds in the ocean that he lives off of, and then the animals on the small island. At the end of the novel, wildlife may pertain to the humans who could have been on the lifeboat with Pi and the fact that they turn into savage animals when their survival instinct kick in. In both of these situations, Pi is the dominant form of wildlife. He manages to overtake the other animals and does whatever he needs to in order to be the survivor.
Pi is very interested in science which is made clear from the beginning of the story. His biggest interest lies in biology, but he is interested in other areas as well. Pi’s interest in science helps him when he is stuck at sea because he is surrounded by biological life and facing tough survival circumstances. He uses his scientific knowledge to identify different animals that he may eat or use in his favor. He also uses whatever objects he can find aboard the lifeboat to make his various vessels as sea-worthy as possible. Pi’s love for science ensures his ability to survive when the odds are unfavorable.
Pi is the protagonist and, in most cases, the narrator. He is a teenager from India who practices Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity and is very interested in science and wildlife. Pi is named after the favorite pool of a family friend called Mamaji. The bulk of the story is about the seven months when Pi was stranded at sea after the ship carrying his family to their new life in Canada sinks. Pi must use his love for and knowledge of animals to ensure his survival in the face of terrifying odds and obstacles that stand in his way.
Richard Parker is a Bengal tiger which once resided at the Pondicherry zoo run by Pi’s father. When the tiger was a cub and brought to the zoo its name, Thirsty, was mixed up with the hunter’s name, Richard Parker, on the paperwork and Pi’s father was so amused by the switch that the name stuck. Richard Parker is Pi’s companion for his entire 227 days at sea and Pi trains the tiger to be submissive. The tiger is protective of Pi and kills both the hyena and the blind Frenchman when it seems that Pi may be in danger.
Mr. Patel is the father of Pi. He is the owner of the Pondicherry zoo in India and the former owner of a Madras hotel. Mr. Patel teaches Pi and Ravi to fear wild animals rather than try to care for them because they are dangerous; he justifies this idea by putting a goat in a lion cage and letting the boys watch the lion eat the goat. Mr. Patel is confused by Pi’s adoption of multiple religions because he himself has never been much of a religious man, despite being Hindu. When the turmoil in India became worrisome to Mr. Patel he decided to move his family and some of his animals to Canada.
Ravi is Pi’s older brother. He is quite popular at school, but he is not a good student; he would rather spend his time concentrating on sports and his friends. Ravi likes to tease Pi, especially when he learns about Pi practicing three different religions at once. Pi feels a lot of guilt about Ravi throughout the novel. When Pi heard the crashing noise on the ship, he tried to wake Ravi to investigate the noise but decided to let him sleep instead; Ravi was never seen by Pi again so it is assumed that he sank with the ship. Ravi is a very light-hearted and clownish character.
Mrs. Patel is the mother of Pi and Ravi. She loves to read and encourages Pi to do so as well, especially when she learns about his many religions and wishes to distract him. Like Mr. Patel, Mrs. Patel is not very religious and does not understand where her son’s interest in religion comes from. Mrs. Patel is an outspoken woman who is not afraid to let her opinion be known, and she is fiercely protective of her family. When Pi replaces the animals in his story with humans, Mrs. Patel takes the place of Orange Juice the orangutan who was always looking out to sea searching for her family.
Mamaji is the reason that the author wrote the story, having met him in a coffee shop by chance and relaying the tale of Pi. Mamaji was once a champion swimmer and teaches Pi to love swimming, as well. As a close friend of the family, Mamaji named Pi after his favorite pool in the entire world: the Piscine Molitor in France. Mamaji, which means “respected uncle”, arranges for the author to meet Pi and hear the tale firsthand.
Mr. Okimoto and Mr. Chiba are two men who work for the Japanese Ministry of Transport’s Maritime Division. They receive word that Pi, the only survivor of the Tsimtsum ship sinking, has washed ashore in Mexico, and they travel down to interview him. When Pi tells the men of his incredible story they do not believe him because it seems farfetched that a boy and a tiger could live in harmony on a lifeboat together for 227 days. Pi tells them another story in which the animals are replaced by humans who destroy one another, and asks which is preferable; the men admit that while the human story is more likely the animal story is better and that is the story they share.
The hyena is the most truly savage character of the story. When Pi is aboard the ship with Richard Parker, Orange Juice, the hyena, and the zebra he fears the hyena more than any other animal. The hyena chews off the zebra’s leg and then eats the entire zebra alive, allowing it to suffer for two whole days. After it is done with the zebra, the hyena rips the head off of the orangutan when they have a standoff. Pi does not stop fearing the hyena until Richard Parker comes out of hiding and kills it. In the second version of the story the hyena is possibly a maniacal cook from the ship who cannibalizes people.
The zebra is a rare breed which Pi first admires at the Pondicherry zoo. It is one of the animals which are taken onto the ship, and when the ship begins to go down the zebra jumps into the same lifeboat that Pi has just been thrown into and breaks its leg in the process. The zebra is the first of the animals to parish as the hyena eats it alive, though it suffers for a couple of days before it dies.In the second version of the story the zebra is a Chinese sailor from the ship who is cannibalized by the crazy cook/hyena.
Orange Juice is an orangutan from the Pondicherry zoo. After the ship sinks, and Pi finds himself on the lifeboat he sees Orange Juice float up to him atop a net full of bananas and she boards the boat. Orange Juice seems to have very human qualities, such as sea sickness and a very worried expression. She stands up to the hyena and holds her ground for a short time, but she is overtaken and decapitated by the savage creature. She seems to always be searching the water for something, which Pi assumes is her two children. In the other version of the story, Orange Juice is Pi’s mother.
The first Mr. Satish Kumar who is introduced to the reader is Pi’s biology teacher at Petite Seminaire, a secondary school. He is an atheist, which is okay with Pi despite his strong religious views because unlike the agnostics, atheists do believe in something. Mr. Kumar suffered from and overcame polio which left his body oddly shaped. Mr. Kumar believes in science over religion and his interest in science, and the explanation of animal behaviors inspires Pi’s interest in animals and his desire to study zoology when he goes on to college.
The second Mr. Satish Kumar who is introduced to the reader is a Muslim mystic and baker who Pi meets by chance. While the first Mr. Kumar inspired Pi to study zoology, this Mr. Kumar changed Pi’s mind and inspired him to study religion instead. Pi was very interested by the fact that Mr. Kumar would excuse himself mid-conversation to go pray and he decided that he would like to learn about Islam, and to follow it, as well. After subscribing to Islam Pi asked his parents for a prayer mat and would pray at the necessary times of day regardless of where he was, just like Mr. Kumar.
The Blind Frenchman is a character that possibly occurred, was possibly out of Pi’s delirium, or was possibly the hyena. Pi was in a state of delirium when he went blind and began to hear a voice that spoke to him with a French accent. The Blind Frenchman was a castaway, just like Pi, who he encountered in the middle of the ocean and who came aboard Pi’s lifeboat to cannibalize him.The man was stopped and killed by Richard Parker. The Japanese duo believes that the Blind Frenchman, and the cook are both represented by the hyena, but it is possible that in his delirium Pi imagined him.
The cook represents the hyena in the second version of the story, which is what makes the second version absolutely horrific. While in the first version it is expected for the hyena to be a savage, it is not expected for a human to dismember and eat other people. The cook supposedly rips off the leg of the injured Chinese sailor to use as bait and then proceeds to eat the sailor over the next couple of days. The cook then decapitates Pi’s mother and throws her head at Pi before he is in turn attacked and killed by Pi, who seems to be the human representation of Richard Parker.
The sailor is a Chinese man who worked aboard the Tsimtsum ship. In the human version of the story, he is representative of the injured and exotic zebra. The sailor, having a broken leg, is dismembered and subsequently eaten by the cook though he manages to stay alive, suffering, for a couple of days before he expires. He is silent and lonely while on the lifeboat, just as the zebra is despite its suffering.
The narrator, Pi, tells the reader that he has endured a lot of suffering in his life. He studied zoology and religion and was an accomplished student. He launches into a discussion about sloths and how their survival mechanism is the fact that they are very slow, and thus tend to fade into the background. Pi has a career, though he does not share that career with the reader. He is living in Canada, which he enjoys, but he misses India and a person by the name of Richard Parker. Pi recalls a hospital in Mexico where he stayed for a point and where the staff took exceptional care of him. He had a slew of ailments including bloating, anemia, cracked skin, and dark colored urine; within a week, the people at the hospital had him up and moving. Pi also recalls the first time that he ever had the privilege of using running water; he fainted the first time he used a tap. He also remembers when he dined at an Indian restaurant in Canada, and the waiter admonished him for eating with his fingers, though that is the traditional Indian way. The author breaks in for a moment to describe Pi to the reader: he is middle-aged, small, gray-haired, and speaks very quickly and to the point.
Pi reflects on his upbringing in India. His parents, despite have an aversion to water, named him after a pool. A family friend named Francis Adirubasamy, whom Pi refers to as Mamaji, was a champion swimmer and taught Pi how to swim, as well. Mamaji has a special love for swimming and instilled that love in Pi as well; Pi is named after Mamaji’s favorite pool in the world, the Piscine Molitor in Paris.Santosh Patel is the name of Pi’s father. He once ran the Pondicherry Zoo which Pi considers one of his favorite places. Pi recalls the rituals of the zoo animals and the certain times of day they could be counted on to entertain Pi in some form. Pi does not agree with people who believe that wild animals should be kept in the wild; he thinks that by allowing the animals to live in a zoo they are being opened to a life of luxury that they would not have in the wild. Sadly, the Pondicherry Zoo has since been shut down because many people find zoos, as well as religion, to be in a state of disrepute.
Pi’s full name is Piscine which earned him a lot of teasing when he was growing up; clever children would call him “Pissing”. When Pi decided that he would like to be addressed as “Pi,” he proceeded to write it on the chalkboard in all of his classrooms until his teachers and peers abided by his wishes. The author breaks in once again to tell the reader how chocked-full Pi’s’ kitchen in Canada is. Pi recalls his favorite teacher, a man named Mr. Satish Kumar who is a communist as well as an atheist who Pi feels an instant connection to. Pi does not have any problem with atheists because he thinks of them just as people who have a different faith than him but who strongly believe in something; he cannot stand agnostics, however, they make him nauseous.
Pi remembers the time his father showed him and his brother about the dangers of wild animals. In order to press his point about how dangerous they can be if left to their own devices, he fed a live goat to a tiger. Tigers are not the most dangerous animal though; Pi remembers a sign that hung in the zoo stating that man is the most dangerous animal of them all. At the zoo, Pi learned something called “flight distance” which is the distance that a wild animal can tolerate being from a potential enemy; in order to run a zoo man must make a trusting and comfortable bond with the animal to not trigger an attack. Pi states that this bond can be formed by creating a suitable and spacy enclosure, providing ample sustenance, and taking an interest in each individual animal. If an animal is treated to these conditions, then it is unlikely that they will ever leave, unless they are frightened away. Pi explains that animals are very territorial; they are fiercely protective of their own territory and respect the territory of others. Omega animals, which are those who are less dominant, are more obedient because they benefit more from a relationship with an alpha.
Pi’s family home in Canada is full of iconography from many different religions, such as Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. There are photographs, paintings, bibles, articles, and even clothing representing different religions and cultures. When Pi was born he was raised in Hinduism, and he speaks about the Hindu rituals he participated in as a child. He believes in the Hindu philosophy of life and states that he will always be a Hindu because it is what he truly embraces and feels. Pi went on a vacation when he was fourteen years old and found himself stepping into a church that he had never been in before. He met a man named Father Martin in that church who told him the story of Jesus Christ and Pi thought the story was strange. He asked Father Martin to tell him another story, but Father Martin told him that the story of Jesus on the cross is the only story to tell. Pi decided that he wanted to be a Christian after that moment and Father Martin told Pi that he already was one. When Pi was fifteen he was introduced to Islam. He met a baker, also named Mr. Satish Kumar, who was Muslim and who interrupted their conversation to pray. Pi watched the man pray and later he returned to the man to ask about Islam. Pi decided he wanted to be Muslim as well, started praying with the baker, and visited a mosque.
The author recalls meeting Pi and how he felt when he heard Pi’s story. He thinks that in comparison to Pi his own life is quite boring and mundane. He is interested in Pi’s extensive religious philosophies and writes them down. Pi muses about the final moments of an atheist’s life and whether they take a “leap of faith” just before they die. He then wonders about an agnostic person who is approaching death and who probably tries to rationalize with the “white light” and say something reasonable rather than come up with a creative story. Once when Pi was enjoying a beautiful day with his parents they were approached by the priest, imam, and pandit with who Pi had been studying simultaneously. They were shocked to learn that Pi was studying and practicing all three religions at one time, and so were his parents. The religious figures were outraged and demanded that he choose one religion and stick to it but Pi did not want to choose, he told them that all he wanted was to love God. Ravi, Pi’s brother, teased him about his multiple religions for some time after this moment. Pi thinks that people who get angry over matters regarding religion are missing the entire point of identifying with a religion.
One day Pi asked his parents to buy him a prayer rug, as used in Islam. This request threw his parents off, and they tried everything they could to distract him from it. Eventually they could no longer distract him, and they bought Pi the mat. Pi proceeded to use the mat wherever he was when he needed to pray, and his parents and brother watched him like he was some sort of alien. Shortly after, Pi received his prayer mat he decided to be baptized as a Christian while his parents observed. Pi recalls living in India during the 1970’s and what a rough time it was for the country, though it did not affect him personally so much. Pi’s father was greatly influenced and affected by the governmental turmoil, however, and decided to move the family to Canada.
The author recalls meeting Pi’s wife Meena, whom he had no idea even existed. As the author looked around Pi’s home he never would have realized Pi had a wife, but now that he knows she exists he sees touches of her everywhere. He wonders briefly if it is Meena who is cooking for him, but he realizes that it is Pi. One time Pi brought both of the Mr. Kumars to the zoo with him; his biology teacher and the Muslim baker. He introduced the two men to a Grant’s zebra, which is a rare and exotic animal that the men had never seen before and were in awe of. Pi tells the reader about zoomorphism, which is a condition where the animals begin to see other animals or humans as being their own kind. Pi thinks that the animal knows the truth, but they deny the truth in favor of the fiction, because animals need to entertain themselves with stories to get by just like humans. As the Patel family prepared for their move to Canada, Mr. Patel had to sell some of his zoo creatures and decided to load some others onto a cargo ship to bring to Canada with him. June 21, 1977 the Patel family set out for Canada and Pi was very excited, though his mother was nervous about leaving the only home she had ever known to travel somewhere she knew nothing of. The author, sitting in Pi’s home, is introduced to his children Nikhil and Usha as well as the family’s orange cat. The author notes that the end to Pi’s story is a happy one.
The ship that Pi and his family are on sinks. Pi recalls being on a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with chaos all around him. Pi sees Richard Parker, a Royal Bengal tiger, barely keeping afloat so he urges the tiger to come aboard his lifeboat. Immediately, Pi realizes how dangerous it could be to share a lifeboat with a tiger so he jumps into the ocean. Just before the ship sank Pi was sleeping and heard a loud crashing noise. He tried to wake Ravi to investigate the noise with him but to no avail. Pi crept past his parents’ room and up the main deck where he discovered two things: 1. it was raining and 2. The boat was severely lopsided. Pi knew that something serious was happening, and tried to get back downstairs to his family, but he could not because the stairwell was flooded with water. Before Pi knew it a Chinese crewman was shoving Pi into a life preserver and throwing him overboard onto a lifeboat. After Pi falls forty feet into the boat one of the Grant’s zebras jumps in after him and the lifeboat falls off the side of the ship and into the water.
Back to the moment when Pi jumps out of the lifeboat to escape Richard Parker, he sees sharks swimming by and becomes intensely frightened. Pi weighs the option of getting back into the boat where he sees only the zebra and no tiger and back in the water he sees more sharks; Pi decides to climb up on one of the oars and rest there. Pi watches as the ship fully sinks and it appears that he is the only human survivor. Pi cannot hold on to the oar much longer so he decides that into order to have a better chance to see other possible lifeboats, and to keep himself from drowning he should climb up onto the tarpaulin cover of the lifeboat. Pi is scared that Richard Parker may be hiding under the tarpaulin cover but if he is then he is staying hidden for the time being. Pi also notices the zebra in the lifeboat, which is alive but appears to have a badly broken hind leg. Suddenly Pi sees a hyena in the boat and decides that the tiger must have jumped back in the water and drowned because there is no way that a tiger and hyena could be in the same boat. Pi decides he has better chances with an aggressive dog than with a sly cat. Pi sees an orangutan named Orange Juice floating toward him on a net full of bananas. Orange Juice jumps into the lifeboat and Pi grabs the net but loses the bananas.
Pi feels as though there must have been an alert about the ship sinking and that help must be on its way. Other than the whining sounds coming from the hyena the animals are quiet and are leaving Pi alone. Still, Pi tries to distance himself from the animals as much as possible by throwing the net onto the middle of the tarpaulin though it does not create much of a barrier. Pi is alarmed when the hyena begins to act very strangely, running crazy circles around the zebra; but soon the hyena throws up and settles into a spot behind the zebra. As the sun goes down Pi worries about what the nighttime will bring, and whether the animals will attack him in the darkness. There is no moon that night so the darkness is overwhelming and Pi can hear strange noises coming from the animals. He can also hear noises from beneath the boat and thinks that the animals in the water must be struggling to survive as well. When the sun comes back up, Pi thinks of his family and wanting to find them. He looks into the lifeboat and is horrified to see that the hyena has chewed off the zebra’s broken leg and is gnawing on it. The zebra is still alive and is still silent, though has begun to grind its teeth.
Pi feels physically ill and notices that Orange Juice does not seem to be feeling well either. She is looking out into the ocean, panting with nausea, and Pi is amused as how human she seems. He wonders why the hyena has not harmed Orange Juice and wonders if hyenas and orangutans could live peacefully within the same environment. Pi sees a sea turtle along the side of the lifeboat and tells it to get help; the sea turtle swims away. Pi notices the sharks swimming all around the lifeboat and sees that Orange Juice is looking at them too; he realizes that Orange Juice is looking for her family just as he is looking for his which makes Pi very sad.
Suddenly the hyena launches itself at the zebra and begins tearing at the zebra’s side, eating it alive. Orange Juice begins to roar at the hyena and the two animals have a bit of a stand-off. The zebra slowly fades away and spills blood over the side of the boat which attracts more sharks. Pi worries that the sharks are going to bump into the boat so hard that it breaks but they scatter when the hyena and Orange Juice are done fighting. Pi is terrified at this point and finally admits to himself that his family has likely died. Pi becomes more depressed as the hyena continues on with its meal. The next day the zebra finally dies, and the hyena attacks Orange Juice next. Pi is impressed with how well Orange Juice stands up for herself, but she is no match for the angry dog; the hyena bites her head off. Pi begins to cry and moves to the edge of the tarpaulin, ready to let the hyena have him when he sees Richard Parker underneath the bench. Pi returns to his spot and falls asleep.
Pi recalls the story of Richard Parker’s capture and subsequent entrance into the zoo. There was a panther that had been killing people, and a hunter was sent to capture it. The goat that the hunter used as bait ended up attracting a mother tiger and her cub instead of the panther and they were sent to the Pondicherry zoo. The paperwork was mixed up and rather than listing the cub’s name as “Thirsty” it was listed as “Richard Parker,” which was the name of the hunter. Pi’s father found this mistake amusing and decided to name the cub Richard Parker. Pi is sure that the tiger will eat him in the lifeboat; this thought actually cheers him up a bit. Pi realizes how thirsty he is and explores the massive lifeboat which measures about twenty-six feet by eight feet. Near the place where Richard Parker has settled in, Pi finds an emergency kit with 124 cans of water and 31 cartons of food rations, as well as some other handy items. Pi believes that in order to survive and keep Richard Parker alive as well he will have to build himself a raft that will be attached to the lifeboat but travel outside of it. He uses oars, life-vests, and rope to create a suitable raft and just as he is securing it the hyena is eaten by Richard Parker. The tiger turns toward Pi and begins to approach him but is distracted by the movement of the boat in the water. Pi takes his opportunity to escape to his raft and get away from the tiger.
Pi worries about the sharks which are floating just below his raft. When it rains Pi creates a rain-catcher to gather himself some fresh water. He wonders if he would be able to kill the tiger but then decides he will just wait for it to starve to death. Pi then remembers that tigers are able to swim and also able to drink salt water, this combined with the fact that the tiger just ate a hyena will hold him over for a while. As Pi watches the tiger, he hears it make an unusual noise which Pi knows is one meant to ensure that they mean no harm. Pi wonders if it would be possible to take Richard Parker and he tries to create a whip out of a life whistle that he found, as a means of asserting dominance. The tiger does not like the sound of the whistle and retreats to his makeshift den to sleep.
Pi decides it would be helpful for him to read the survival manual from the emergency kit. He finds that he must try to catch some fish and also must try to create some sort of shelter from the elements. Pi is thirsty as well as hungry and decides that he must venture back to the lifeboat; he approaches with caution so as not to startle the tiger and finds that Richard Parker has staked his territory by peeing on the floor of the boat. Pi reciprocates by peeing on the tarpaulin cover and the emergency kit to mark his own territory. Pi finds that there are twelve solar stills which are meant to turn salt water into fresh water and he throws them into the water to give it a shot. He also makes some changes to his raft which will make it safer, and more effective for him. Pi sets back out on his raft to enjoy his dinner as Richard Parker looks on and makes the kindly noise again. Pi looks into the water and sees the abundance of life forms that swim there. He decides to give fishing a shot, using a leather shoe as bait, but he is not successful. Pi heads back to the lifeboat to find something else to use as bait, and when he does a school of fish jump out of the water and over the boat, though some land right in the boat.Richard Parker does not hesitate to eat the fish but Pi, who has been a vegetarian all his life, has a hard time when he has to kill the fish. Later that day Pi catches a three-foot fish and shares it with Richard Parker; he has accepted that he must kill to survive. Pi checks on the solar stills, disbelieving that they really work, but to his happy surprise they are filled with fresh water. Pi drinks one himself and fills a bucket for Richard Parker. Pi realizes that night that it has been one week since the ship sank.
In retrospect Pi says that he spent 227 days on that lifeboat. On the boat, Pi gives himself tasks to do each day. He feeds himself and the tiger, keeps everything clean, keeps both the lifeboat and the raft in good working condition, and keeps his own mind working by praying and writing. Pi thinks that the only reason he was able to survive for so long is because he forgot about time entirely. As Pi only has one set of clothing, they begin to disintegrate. He also becomes covered in boils from being wet nearly all the time. Pi becomes quite the survivalist, catching fish with his bare hands and chopping their heads off with a hatchet. Sometimes Pi catches more fish than he and Richard Parker can eat and sometimes he catches turtles, as well. Pi lights flares on occasion as well though none of them attract any rescuers. The survival manual recommends drinking the blood of a turtle as a thirst-quencher, which Pi does, though he has to butcher the turtles on the lifeboat rather than the raft which proves difficult because Richard Parker does not always allow Pi onto the lifeboat.
Pi thinks about writing a manual for training a tiger while on a lifeboat at sea. Pi often tries to train the tiger by using a turtle shell for a shield, stomping on one of the benches in the middle of the boat, and blowing his whistle. One time Richard Parker manages to nudge Pi into the water, but usually Pi can keep the tiger under control by rocking the boat which makes the tiger nauseous. Pi keeps a diary of his time at sea and makes up his own religious rituals. He even asserts his dominance over the tiger by picking up the tiger’s feces, holding it in his hand, and blowing the whistle in an angry manner.Once, Pi tries to eat the feces when he is extremely hungry, but he is unable to. Pi catches a mako shark with his hands one day and tosses it to Richard Parker, but the tiger is bit when he swipes at the shark. On another occasion, a Dorado jumps into the boat and the tiger nearly attacks but Pi puts his hand on the fish and stares the tiger down until he backs off; he then feeds the tiger a portion of the fish. Pi notes that he has started to eat like an animal.
One day, a terrible storm hits and Pi is forced to get into the lifeboat where he covers himself as well as Richard Parker with the tarpaulin. The storm rages on for more than a day and the lifeboat is tossed over huge waves. When the storm is finally over Pi realizes that the raft has been destroyed and that the lifeboat has incurred some damage as well; he works to repair the tarpaulin and to bail out water. Pi begins to kill seabirds when he needs to and eats the parts of them that are edible. One day, a tanker comes near the lifeboat and almost runs it over, but no one seems to see the tiny boat and Pi is not rescued. When the lifeboat floats upon some garbage, Pi writes a letter and sticks it in a bottle he finds, throwing it back out to sea. Both Pi and Richard Parker begin to rapidly deteriorate, and Pi sleeps most of the day. He begins to go delirious and finds that he can no longer see. Pi hears a voice speaking to him in a French accent, talking about food and brains; he thinks that it must be Richard Parker but does not understand why the tiger would have a French accent. Pi continues to talk to the voice and finds that the man is also a castaway and boards Pi’s boat to cannibalize him, but he is eaten by Richard Parker before he gets the chance. Pi rinses his eyes out and can see again; he sees a butchered body lying on the floor of the boat.
The lifeboat happens upon a small island that is loaded with algae, meerkats, dead fish, and vegetation. Pi and Richard Parker rest on the island for a while and Pi sleeps in the trees. One day he finds fruit in the trees that seems to have a human tooth in the middle of it. Pi decides that the island is full of cannibals, and he and Richard Parker must leave. Eventually the lifeboat reaches the shore of a Mexican beach. Pi throws himself onto the sand, and Richard Parker bounds off into the jungle. Pi is sad that his friend left him so quickly, and he did not even get to say goodbye to him. The villagers rescue Pi and take him to a hospital. Pi cannot understand what the people are saying, but he knows that he is safe.
Tomohiro Okamoto and Atsuro Chiba are two men who work for the Japanese Ministry of Transport in the Maritime Division. They are in California when they receive word that the only known survivor of the Japanese ship Tsimtsum, which sank, has washed up in Mexico. The men immediately set out to meet Pi though they are held up by car trouble and other unforeseen issues. After a forty-one hour drive, the men finally reach the hospital in Tomatlan where Pi is being treated. Despite being tired the men decide to interview Pi right away to try to ascertain why the ship sank. The author provides a transcript of the Japanese end of the conversation, translated into English. The day of the interview is February 19, 1978, and a tape recorder is turned on to record the entire conversation. Okamoto introduces himself as well as his assistant, Chiba, who is new at the job. The men offer Pi a cookie which he gladly accepts as he has been hiding cookies under his bed sheets. As chapter 97 consists only of the words “the story,” the reader can assume that Pi has shared his story with the interviewers who give him another cookie, and then excuse themselves.
When the men reenter the room they tell Pi that they do not believe the story he has told them. The first example they provide for their disbelief is the fact that bananas do not float. In response to this Pi pulls a banana out from under his sheets and tells the men to put it in a sink full of water; they discover that bananas do in fact float. The men tell Pi that many elements of his story go against nature; when Chiba mentions that his uncle is a bonsai master Pi mentions that bonsai trees go against nature so they must not exist, by the logic the two men are using. Okamoto tells Pi that there have been no sightings of Richard Parker anywhere and Pi tells him that wild animals can hide from humans anywhere, even in cities. Pi gets the men to admit that they enjoyed his story, but they insist that they need to know what really happened. Pi suggests that he tell them another story. In this version, there are four humans on the lifeboat; an injured Chinese sailor, a greedy and maniacal cook, Pi’s mother, and himself. The cook cuts off the sailor’s leg and uses it as bait to catch fish, then he eats the sailor. After that, the cook attacks Pi’s mother and throws her head at Pi before eating her. Then Pi is forced to kill and eat the cook; he tells the men that he turned to God, and he survived all alone. The men are shocked at the story that Pi has just told them but realize that the story is remarkably similar to the first, only with humans. The men ask Pi many more questions, but Pi cannot help them to solve the mystery of why the ship sank. Pi wonders which of the stories that he told the men liked better. They admit that they enjoyed the story with the animals more because it was the “better story” but that it seems unlikely. Years later Okamoto sends a report of his interview to the author and states that Pi told him a unique and remarkable story of how he survived at sea accompanied by a Bengal tiger.
The Aleuts continue to pack their things and prepare their ship for sale though they have not given Chief Chowig any of the otter yet. Everyone rushes to Coral Cove not wanting to miss any of the confrontation, Karana and Ulape watching from a ledge.
Chowig and Orlov get into a disagreement about the otter as Orlov wants to give Chowig jewelry, and gems instead of otter but Chowig just wants the meat. When Orlov offers to give Chowig three chests full of treasure and spearheads, Chowig agrees, but will not allow the men to remove any otter from the island until he gets the three chests. Orlov looks nervous as a storm is coming in and Chowig tells him that the natives will help the Aleuts and Russians to pack their things and set sail as soon as he gets what is coming to him. Suddenly, a fight breaks out, and Karana sees her father lying on the ground with a bloody face.
The people of Ghalas-at and the Aleuts all begin fighting one another,and many of the Ghalas-at men lose their lives, including Chief Chowig. The Russian ship sets off with its men and the otter, leaving the Ghalas-at people in ruins and mourning. When Karana sees her father’s body being washed over by the waves she can only think that he should not have told Orlov his secret name.
Nearly thirty Ghalas-at men died in the battle, leaving only fifteen men on the island, five of whom are quite old. One of the elders, Kimki, becomes the new chief. Because so many men were killed the women are forced to take over some of the men’s jobs, like hunting. Karana, Ulape, and Ramo are in charge of keeping the abalone safe from birds and wild dogs and gathering them from the rocks on which they grow.
The villagers feel saddened by the great loss they suffered during the battle and they cannot seem to escape the ghosts of their memories on the island. Kimki decides that he is going to travel to a country to the east that he had visited as a child, which the reader will discover is America. Kimki wants to find a place for the Ghalas-at people to move to, and begin a new life,so he sets out in his little canoe and says he will send for them when he finds a place. The people are hopeful that Kimki will be successful but wonder when, if at all, he will return to them.
As spring comes and goes Kimki has still not returned or sent word to the island and everyone is getting worried. Not only are they worried about Kimki, but also worried because hunting season for the Aleuts is approaching again, and everyone spends a great deal of time watching for the ship with red flags to come into view. Matasaip, the man who became leader in Kimki’s absence, had the islanders set up canoes and supplies by the rocks,so they can make a fast getaway to Santa Catalina if necessary.
A ship is seen approaching the island one night and everyone heads for the canoes ready to leave when one of the villagers informs the rest that the sails on this ship are not red but white. Matasaip goes to check the situation out himself, leaving everyone else by the canoes just in case they need to leave. He sends word back to the other islanders that the ship is full of white men who have been sent to the island by Kimki to bring them to their new country. Everyone is very excited that Kimki has been successful, but they are scared,as well.
Everyone in the village packs their things to get ready for their journey, Karana taking a pair of earrings, her needles, a knife, and some pots, and Ulape taking many pair of earrings as she is quite vain.Ulape also smears some blue clay across her nose to indicate that she is unmarried though she is obviously in love with Nanko, who teases her often. As everyone heads to the ship, Ramo tells Karana that he has forgotten his fishing spear but Karana tells him to forget about it and just get on the ship because they do not have time to go back and get it.
Once on the ship Karana realizes that she cannot find Ramo though Nanko insists that Ramo is on the ship. Karana looks back to shore and realizes that Ramo is still there with his spear, but Matasaip will not go back to get him. Karana, clearly torn by what to do, jumps ship and heads back to the island with Ramo, unwilling to leave him there alone. Rather than be mad at Ramo when she gets to the island she just hugs him, glad that he is safe though slightly disappointed that she has ruined her beautiful skirt during her swim.
When Karana and Ramo return to the village they find it empty except for some wild dogs that have eaten all of the food that was stored and torn everything up. Ramo tells Karana that he likes it on the island with just the two of them because it is more fun and he names himself the new chief, though he turns pale when Karana reminds him of the ceremony he must go through to become a man first.
Karana and Ramo find eggs and abalone to eat, and Ramo tells Karana he will get a canoe the next day,so they can go fishing, insisting he is strong enough to get the canoe because he is the son of Chowig. Karana cannot find Ramo the next day but knows she cannot go looking for him because someone needs to keep watch for the ship to return. Eventually, after Ramo does not show up all day, Karana buries the mussels she has found and takes a trail to go looking for Ramo.
When Karana finds Ramo, his dead body is laying on the ground with a gash across his throat, surrounded by wild dogs. Karana takes Ramo’s body back to their hut and holds him all night, vowing to kill the dogs someday.
Karana decides to move to another part of the island as the village is too sad for her now. Karana makes her new home near Coral Cove atop a rock that will provide her with shelter, as well as safety from the dogs. She knows that she will need weapons to survive, but the women in her tribe were not ever allowed to make weapons,so she went searching for some that may have been left behind instead though she has no luck.
Despite the fact that the village law states weapons will break in the hand of a woman, Karana knows she must make some anyway though she has never done it before and does not have a sea elephant tusk to use for a tip. Karana improvises and makes a bow out of seal sinew and tree branch, considering testing it out on the leader of the wild dogs which she sees watching her though she decides it is not close enough for her to get a good shot. Time goes by slowly for Karana though she settles into a routine always keeping watch for the ship that she hopes will come back for her.
Throughout the summer, Karana watches for the ship, still hopeful, but as summer draws to a close Karana accepts the realization that the ship is not going to return to her. Karana decides she is going to take one of the canoes and travel across the ocean herself in the direction where the ship took the rest of her people. Karana should be scared at such a feat, but she is not as she knows she would rather have the chance of reuniting with her people than stay on the island all alone, and surrounded by the wild dogs that killed her brother.
Karana packs one of the canoes with supplies and sets out, the island quickly falling out of view. Later that day, the canoe begins to leak, and though Karana tries to stifle the leak she cannot and knows that she must turn around because the canoe will not make the rest of the trip to the mainland. Karana is flanked by dolphins all the way back to the island, pleased by their presence as she sees dolphins as kind animals that bring good luck. When Karana finally makes it back to the island, she collapses on the sand, hugging it, and falls asleep.
Upon waking, Karana realizes that she does not want to leave the island after all because it is her home, she will just wait for a ship to come, and if it does not she will live in peace with the animals on the island. She decides she must build herself a house, and she will do so in the headland as the village is too sad and to the west is where the dogs and the sea elephants live. She knows that she cannot live next to the sea elephants because they are quite loud and will make poor neighbors, especially when she is trying to sleep.
Karana settles into the headland and begins to gather poles that she will use to build herself a fence for the purpose of keeping out foxes which are proven to be pretty crafty thieves. Karana is very optimistic about the new home she is building for herself.
Karana builds a fence made of whale bones and seaweed, digging a hole under the fence,so she can get in and out of the structure. She knows she must build a house inside of the fence though she knows that will be difficult as trees on the island are hard to come by. She digresses about how fall the trees used to be when the Gods ran the island though they are much smaller now.
Karana builds poles to act as the support for her home and kills two of the wild dogs when they come snooping around her new home. Karana begins to make all of the things that she will need to survive, such as a basket for water and utensils and she digs a hole for a fire pit inside the house.
When winter approaches Karana has finished building her house and all of her supplies and decides that she must kill the dog pack now but first she will need better weapons. Karana makes a better bow and some sharper arrows along with a spear though she still does not have a point for the spear as she has no idea how to get the tooth of a sea elephant as she does not have a net to catch it.
Karana decides that she will go try to catch a sea elephant the next day though she cannot help but remember the law that states a weapon will not work at the hands of a woman. Karana goes to the place where the sea elephants live and chooses her prey, the smallest male sea elephant out of a group of six, mostly because he is alone and does not have his own herd. She hides behind the rocks to watch the sea elephants, still worrying about the law against women using weapons. She sees the sea elephant heading toward a female and takes it as her chance to spear him, though she misses.
An older sea elephant is also interested in the same female and makes to attack the younger one. Karana watches the two male sea elephants battling one another and sees the older one put a large gash in the younger one. Karana knows this is the perfect time to catch him because he is already injured, but she does not because she secretly wants the younger one to win the fight. As the fight gets rougher, and the water becomes tinged with blood Karana leaves the fray, hurting her knee while escaping and listens to the noises coming from the warring sea elephants as she heads back home.
For five days after returning from the fight, Karana cannot leave the house because her leg is hurt so badly. Eventually she realizes that she must leave to get water and sets out to the spring, bringing her weapons with her. Upon reaching the spring Karana finds herself face to face with the dog pack again, though they leave her alone.
Rather than go back to her home, Karana decides to stay in the cave by the spring, considering it her home for when she is sick as she feels very safe there. Karana stays in the cave for six days and turns it into another home, digging shelves in the rock and stocking up on herbs and foods.
Karana likes the cave because there are drawings on the walls that were made by her ancestors. When Karana’s second home is done she heads back to the scene of the sea elephant fight and finds one of the sea elephants lying dead on the shore which leaves Karana free to take one of its teeth for her spear.
Karana notes that the pack of wild dogs increased exponentially after the battle with the Aleutians and the leader of the pack must have been an Aleutian dog because she does not recall seeing him before they came, knowing she would remember his big yellow eyes. Karana plans an attack against the dogs and sets up the materials to build a fire outside of their cave.
When all of the dogs return to the cave, she lights the fire,and they all come running out though Karana does not shoot at all of them, only the leader when he emerges. Karana hits the leader in the chest with one of her arrows though she misses with a second one. She cannot find the leader for several days though when she does she finds him behind some rocks with a piece of the arrow sticking out of his chest.
Karana cannot bring herself to kill the dog,so she picks him up and brings him back to her home where she cleans his wound. At first Karana sleeps up on the rock because she is scared of the dog though she continues to clean his wound and feed him fish. One day Karana finds the dog inside her home wagging his tail, and she decides to keep him for her pet, naming him Rontu.
Karana continues to watch for the ship should it return, and also keeps watch for the Aleuts as hunting season will again be approaching. Karana knows that she must have a place to hide herself and her supplies in the chance that the Aleuts do return to the island. She decides that she will hide herself, Rontu, and her belongings in the canoe if the Aleuts return though she needs a safe place to store the canoe.
Karana spends time working on the canoe to make it smaller and more manageable for her and teaches Rontu some words as she spends a lot of her time talking to him. When Karana finishes the canoe she and Rontu take it for a test ride around the island and happen upon a cave with smooth black walls that Karana realizes will be the perfect hiding spot for the canoe when spring comes.
Rontu sees a devilfish (octopus) in the water, and Karana tries to catch it though devilfish are extremely difficult to catch as they let out a cloud of black to help them escape as this one does. Karana becomes determined to build herself a better spear to help her catch devilfish as their meat is delicious.
Karana spends her time making herself a new dress and fashioning a spear that will help her to catch devilfish. The new spear will have a string attached to help her reel in the fish after she has speared it. When spring comes Karana stores her canoe in the cave whenever she is not using it, in case the Aleuts should return. Karana sets out to hunt devilfish one day, lonely as Rontu is not with her.
Karana let Rontu out of the fence because the other dogs had been sniffing around and she was worried that Rontu may leave her and rejoin the others though she would never be able to hurt him now it that were the case because they are friends. When Karana returns home she finds Rontu on top of a mound surrounded by the other dogs and a fight is obviously brewing.
Rontu, despite taking some blows, manages to outsmart the other dogs and come out victorious. Upon winning Rontu howls from atop the mound and the other dogs break off into two groups and leave the scene, never to return to bother Rontu and Karana again.
With the spring, Karana makes new friends of the animals. There are two birds that build a nest right near Karana’s home, and when they have babies she builds a house for the chicks,so they can stay with her when the other birds fly north. For a while, Karana has to clip the wings of the birds,so they do not fly away from her, but eventually she does not need to as they are happy to stay in her home.
Karana makes herself a new yucca skirt as she had ruined her previous one jumping off the ship to get to Ramo, and also makes a wreath for Rontu’s neck,which he greatly dislikes wearing. Karana and Rontu spend a lot of time walking around the island and the cliffs together enjoying one another’s company and the springtime.
As summer comes, Karana has still not caught the devilfish, but it is not for lack of trying. She decides that she must gather some abalone as the winter is coming though rather than father it off the rocks as she usually does she goes to the reef because there are not as many starfish there.
Upon reaching the reef Karana is distracted by all of the beautiful sea life there such as fish, otters, dolphins, and scallops. Rontu begins to bark like mad, and Karana realizes that the devilfish she has been trying to catch is there at the reef. She takes the opportunity to spear it when it is going after another fish, and she succeeds.
The devilfish is very strong, and Karana has a hard time reeling it in, nearly getting pulled into the water. Eventually Karana manages to pull the devilfish to shore, but it is still not dead,and when Rontu gets too close the devilfish catches him in its tentacles. Karana steps in to stab the devilfish eventually killing it but getting stung in the process. When the devilfish is finally dead Karana and Rontu both leave it there on the shore, too tired and hurt to bring it with them, vowing to not hunt anymore devilfish that summer.
Karana continues to gather fish, and abalone and she and Rontu explore more of the island. They go to Tall Rock where Karana kills some birds to make a new skirt and then happen upon a mysterious black cave that Karana has never been to before. Inside the cave, Karana sees glowing eyes on the walls and skeletons, realizing that these must be her ancestors.
Karana tries to leave the cave, as she finds it creepy, but the tide has come in, and she cannot get out until the tide goes back down,so she and Rontu must sleep there for the night. The next day when they leave Karana tells Rontu that they will never return to Black Cave again. Karana puts her canoe in the safe cave and begins to head home though when she gets to the top of the cliff she sees a ship coming from the north, the same direction the Aleuts come from. She notes that it has red sails, and must be them,so she gathers her things and heads to the safe cave, carefully brushing away her footprints,so the Aleuts would not realize someone was still on the island. Karana sees a young girl building a fire by the shore and decides to barricade herself in the cave with rocks after she convinces Rontu to join her.
Karana tries to only leave her cave at night when the Aleuts will not be able to see her. She likes going up onto the rocks to watch the Aleut fires though she fears the young Aleut girl she saw will find her. Karana and Rontu still collect abalone and roots but are careful to not be seen.
One day after Karana has finished sewing her beautiful new skirt she steps out of the cave to see it in the daylight and to her horror the Aleut girl is standing there.Rontu goes to the girl,andKarana realizes that she must have been his owner before, and she gets territorial though the girl motions that she means no harm and Rontu is Karana’s now. The girl tries to be friendly with Karana, and though Karana can understand most of her motions and get the gist of what she is trying to say she pretends that she is clueless.
The girl introduces herself as Tutok, tells Karana that her skirt is pretty and asks if she lives in the cave, but Karana just points to the west end of the island. The girl leaves and the next morning after Karana has moved much of her stuff to the west end of the island she finds that someone has been in her cave and left for her a black necklace.
Karana leaves the necklace on the steps and goes to sleep. The next morning she hides waiting for Tutok to come back. When Tutok comes to the cave and sees that the necklace is still there she starts to leave until Karana jumps out and yells “Tutok!” Karana puts the necklace on for Tutok, and they admire it together and spend the afternoon trading the names for things in their languages.
When Tutok leaves that day Karana tells her that her name is Won-a-pa-lei. Over the next couple days, the girls continue to play their language-trading game,andKarana finally reveals her secret name. Karana makes Tutok a circlet for her hair out of abalone discs and Tutok says that it is pretty and hugs Karana. One day Tutok does not come by, and Karana sees that the Aleuts are packing up their ships getting ready to leave. Karana assumes that Tutok will come to say goodbye so she cooks dinner for them, but Tutok never comes and Karana sees the ship sailing away.Karana is sad that Tutok has left because she enjoyed having a friend to spend time with.
The Aleuts left many otters on the shore that are dead or wounded which saddens Karana. She finds one otter, which is badly wounded and brings him to the tide pools where she knows he will be able to heal. Every day Karana brings the otter fish to eat so he can get better and names him Mon-a-nee. There are a few days when Karana is not able to catch fish, and when she finally returns to the tide pools she sees that otter is gone,and she knows that she will not be able to find him again as he will be indistinguishable from the other otters now that his wound has healed.
Karana feels she can safely move back to her home at the headland now that the Aleuts are gone, and there she spends her days making new weapons and a pair of earrings to match the necklace from Tutok. Karana spends her time walking the cliffs with Rontu as they have always done, but she still misses Tutok.
As springtime approaches again Karana finds that her home is becoming a bit of a zoo, home to many different animals. The two birds that Karana had taken in and named Lurai and Tainor have now built a nest for themselves and had babies and Karana has also taken in a gull who is hurt. One day when Karana is gathering abalone a herd of otter approaches her canoe, and she realizes that it is Mon-a-nee and its babies and that Mon-a-nee is a girl rather than a boy as she originally thought and she changes its name to Won-a-nee.
Karana becomes close with the otter family and spends a lot of time feeding them fish and abalone. Karana is becoming very close to the animals on the island and decides that she will not kill anymore otter, sea elephants, cormorants, or even wild dogs because animals have feelings just like people do and her world would be a miserable place without their company.
As time goes by the Aleuts never return to the island, and even the otters stop migrating to Tall Rock,which makes Karana realize that the otters who are there no longer remember the Aleuts, so they have nothing to fear. Karana no longer keeps track of time on the pole by her house, and that summer Rontu dies. Karana noticed that Rontu wanted to accompany her around the island less, and less,and one day he wanted to get out of the fence,and he never returned.
Karana followed Rontu’s tracks and found him in the back of a cave where she stayed with him throughout the night. Karana carried Rontu back to the house and set him on the ground to bark at the gulls that were milling about, but he did not he just dropped to the ground and died while Karana felt his heartbeat disappear. Karana buried Rontu at the headland and marked his grave with his favorite stick, some flowers, and many brightly colored stones.
Karana is sad without Rontu and does not leave the house much that winter. She has seen a small dog with the pack that has yellow eyes just like Rontu and she is convinced he must be Rontu’s son. Karana decides she wants to catch the small dog and keep him for a pet,so she tries many different plans to catch the dog, eventually deciding it will be easiest to take him if all the dogs are sleeping.
She happens upon a mixture of tobacco and seashells known as “xuchal” which puts the dogs to sleep and allows her to take the dog that looks like Rontu. The small dog howls all night, disliking being tied to the fence,but eventually he becomes friends with Karana,and she calls him Rontu-Aru which means “son of Rontu”. Karana and Rontu-Aru go fishing and take canoe rides together; she enjoys his company but more and more she misses human interaction and thinks of her sister Ulape and also of her friend Tutok.
On the last day of summer, Karana takes her canoe to the sandspit where she repairs the leaks and holes with pitch. She tires quickly and decides to take a nap though she is woken soon by the ground shaking. As Karana looks out to sea, she sees a large wave heading straight for where she is standing,and she quickly climbs up on cliff.
The wave hits the cliff just beneath Karana, and a second wave comes in that nearly pulls Karana out to sea, though she manages to hold on. When the waves calm down Karana heads home to the delight of Rontu-Aru who must have felt the earthquake,as well. Throughout the night, the ground continues to tremor with aftershocks which have knocked down Karana’s fence. By the time morning comes the shaking as stopped but some damage is already done.
The earthquake has destroyed the canoes and Karana gathers the pieces and floats them to the cove where she begins to assemble a new canoe out of the pieces of the old ones. When springtime comes around the canoe is ready to be sealed with pitch and when Karana is preparing the fire for the pitch she sees a ship in the distance.
The ship does not have red sails like the Aleuts but also does not appear to be the ship the white people sailed to the island at Kimki’s request. Karana sees two men arrive at the island in a canoe, and she goes to gather her belongings in hopes that the men will take her with them. When Karana and Rontu-Aru get back to the shore, they find the canoe is gone,andthe men have gone back to their ship. Karana heads out into the waves to flag down the ship but to no avail.
After two more years the ship with the white people on it finally returns to the island. Karana prepares herself to meet the men who get off the ship by putting on her otter cape and cormorant skirt and also marking her face with blue clay the way her sister had before sailing off. The men come to Karana’s home and try to communicate with her though they do not understand one another.
Karana finally understands that she will go on the boat with the men and be allowed to bring all of her belongings and the men measure her for a dress that she does not like because it will cover her entire body. The men are frustrated that they cannot find any otters, and though Karana knows where they are she does not tell the men. She tries to ask about the ship that came for her family though the men do not understand and we learn that once Karana arrived in Mission Santa Barbara she received the news that the ship with the villagers had never arrived as it had sunk.
Karana finally leaves the island on the ship with Rontu-Aru and remembers the good times she had on the island with Won-a-nee and Rontu though she is happy to be leaving in a ship that is flanked by dolphins.
The final chapter is a note from the author, Scott O’Dell about the origins of the story. A woman, known as the Lost Woman of San Nicolas really did live on the island alone for nearly twenty years, from 1835-1853 and was eventually found living there with only her dog. No one could get the story from her as her language was unknown, but it is known that she ended up on the island alone after jumping ship and swimming back as Karana had done. The woman ended up being buried up on a hill by the Santa Barbara Mission, in a place that will likely be swept off to sea again someday according to scientists.
When they return from Mexico, Maya hears Big Bailey and Dolores fighting, as Dolores feels that Maya is ruining their relationship. After Big Bailey leaves, Maya tells Dolores that she never meant to come between them and feels happy with herself for doing such a good deed. Dolores responds by calling Vivian a whore and stabbing Maya with scissors.
Maya runs out and hides in her father’s car until he returns and takes her to a friend’s house to bandage her cut. Big Bailey takes Maya to another friend’s house for the night, returning the next day to give her money and promising to come back for her later. Maya takes the money and flees, knowing she does not want to face Big Bailey’s friends nor can she return to Vivian with the cut on her arm. She fears causing a rift between her mother and father because she remembers all too clearly the guilt she feels over the death of Mr. Freeman.
Maya finds herself with nowhere to go and spends the night in an abandoned car at a junk yard. When she wakes the next day she finds herself surrounded by a diverse group of laughing, homeless, teenagers.
They tell her she can stay if she follows the rules: no sleeping with anyone of the opposite sex, no stealing, and she must work to contribute her funds to the community. Maya stays with the group for one month, enjoying their sense of community and the dance contests they have on weekends. After one month, Maya asks Vivian to buy her a plane ticket to return home. Though the homeless teenagers are upset that she is leaving them, they wish the best for her.
Maya feels as though she has changed greatly over the summer though when she returns home she realizes she is not the only one who has changed. Bailey shows little interest in Maya’s tales and reveals that he and Vivian are no longer getting along. To attract Vivian’s attention Bailey begins to dress in fancy clothing like the men Vivian hangs around with and, also like them, he dates a white prostitute.
Vivian is furious, not realizing her influence in his behavior and tells him to clean up his act. Bailey decides to move out on his own despite the fact that he and Vivian have reconciled. Maya is very upset that Bailey is moving out, but he assures her that he will be fine on his own; it is simply time for him to move on.
Maya has a desire to work and decides that she would like to take a semester off of school and get a job. She is determined to become the first black person to ever work on a streetcar in San Francisco and after months of being persistent, she succeeds. When Maya finally decides to return to school, she feels more separated from her classmates than ever before because of all she experienced while she was away. She muses that, in America, black women face more than the average adolescent problems because they also have to deal with racism and sexism.
Maya believes that the reason black women have such strong personalities, characters, and beliefs is because of all the adversity they face.
Maya reads “The Well of Loneliness” by Radclyff Hall and it introduces her to lesbianism. She does not completely understand the concept, but she wonders if she is a lesbian because she feels different from the other girls. Her hips and breasts have yet to develop, and she has no hair under her arms, but Vivian tells her this is normal for someone her age.
Maya decides she must find a boyfriend to discover if she is a lesbian but finds that the boys at school are not interested in her because she has dark skin and kinky hair. Maya decides to ask one of her neighbors to have sex with her, but the result does not leave relieve Maya’s confusion. A few weeks later, Maya learns that she is pregnant.
Maya knows she is responsible for her pregnancy and places the blame on no one else though she is not sure what to do about it. She writes Bailey to ask his opinion, and he tells her to keep the pregnancy to herself until she is done with school because Vivian will not allow an abortion and will make her drop out of school.
Maya manages to keep her pregnancy secret until she is done with school and eight months along. When she tells Vivian and Daddy Clidell they accept the news and do not have anything negative to say to her about the situation, despite the fact that she is sure they do not approve. When Maya gives birth to her son, she feels awkward around him and is scared to touch him.
Vivian makes Maya sleep next to the baby when he is three weeks old, and Maya tries to stay awake all night, so she does not crush him, though she is unsuccessful. Later that night Vivian wakes Maya to show her that the baby has curled himself up the crook of her arm. She tells Maya that as long as her heart is in the right place she will never do wrong by him. Maya happily falls back asleep next to her son.
The Chaplain is arrested for various crimes, which are unspecified at the time, much to his shock. He is accused of forgery, of being Washington Irving, and of stealing plum tomatoes. A document that Yossarian forged the Chaplain’s name on some time ago is the only evidence that they have against him, and they sound ridiculous trying to justify their accusations.
The Chaplain is set free until they figure out how to punish him and he goes right to Colonel Korn to complain about the number of missions the men have to complete. Korn informs the Chaplain that all of the higher-ups agree with the idea of increasing the quota to whatever they want, and anyone who disagrees, such as Dr. Stubbs have been sent away.
Peckem moves into his new office which is Dreedle’s old office and learns that Scheisskopf has been promoted to general, making him Peckem’s new commanding officer which makes Peckem extremely aggravated. Peckem refuses to take any phone calls from Scheisskopf and cannot believe that such a dimwit could be in charge.
Apparently the leader of special services was being promoted to general, which would have been Peckem had he not already been promoted and instead went to his successor, Scheisskopf. Peckem is now stuck following Scheisskopf’s orders, as absurd as they may be, and he wants everyone to march.
Yossarian refuses to participate in any more missions and out of pity for the loss of Nately Cathcart and Korn decide to send him to Rome on leave. When in Rome Yossarian tells Nately’s whore about his death and she attacks him with a knife, as does her little sister, convinced that Yossarian is to blame for his death. She follows him everywhere he goes, including back to base, determined to seek revenge for Nately’s death, though it was not Yossarian’s fault.
The officers ask Yossarian to fly in nondangerous missions, but he refuses, knowing that someone else will be asked to fly in the more dangerous ones in his stead. He finds out that Nately’s whore, her sister, and the other ladies living in their building were flushed out by M.P.’s, and he is worried about them.
Yossarian and Milo head to Rome which is in a state of shambles and ruins beyond what he imagined. He learns from the old woman who lived in the whores’ apartment building that they were presented with a Catch-22, that the soldiers could do anything that the people could not stop them from doing, and the other Catch-22 was that they did not have to present the people with a written Catch-22.
Yossarian knows that Catch-22 does not exist, but it sticks around because people believe in it. Yossarian looks for Nately’s whore, and Milo gets distracted by a business opportunity. As he wanders he sees rapes, beatings, and corpses everywhere he looks, he even encounters Aarfy beating and raping a maid. M.P.’s burst in and apologize to Aarfy for interrupting him but arrest Yossarian who is doing nothing wrong for being in Rome without a pass.
Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn tell Yossarian that they want to send him home but because of Catch-22 they cannot. They decide that they would like to promote him to major so his only job would be to watch over them, but, in return, he would have to like them and approve of what they are doing. Yossarian does not want to betray his fellow soldiers, knowing that they will still have to fly an unspecified number of missions, but he thinks it is his only way out so he accepts. As he is leaving the office, he is stabbed by Nately’s whore who is dressed in disguise.
Yossarian is operated on in the hospital and when he awakens he see the Chaplain and Aarfy. He promises the Chaplain that he will not take Cathcart and Korn’s deal, though he had previously agreed to it. He realizes that his only friend who is still alive is Hungry Joe but the Chaplain tells him that Joe died in his sleep, apparently smothered by a cat.
Yossarian drifts in and out of dreams and remembers the day that Snowden died, telling Yossarian “I’m cold.” In an attempt to help Snowden, Yossarian opened his suit, but his entrails all spilled out and, in the entrails, Yossarian read, “The spirit gone, man is garbage”.
Yossarian tries to explain to General Danby about the offer Cathcart, and Korn gave him and why he cannot take it, as he must honor his friends who have died needlessly in war. He believes that he has no hope when the Chaplain tells him that Orr has washed up in Sweden, alive, and Yossarian knows that he does stand a chance. He gathers his clothes and leaves the hospital, headed toward Sweden to leave the war forever. As he is leaving Nately’s whore tries to stab him one more time, but he escapes her and runs off as fast as he can toward Sweden.
Vin sees Elend, now returned from his meet with the koloss army, inured and resting. Zanes comes and says that Cett was the one that planed the attack at the voting ceremony. Vin gets angry and decides to attack Cett. Zane and Vin attack the keep that Cett has been staying at in Luthadel. Together, they kill guards and hazekillers. Fueled by rage, Vin kills quickly, working her way to Cett’s room. She realizes that Zane is using atium, while she has none, and yet she’s killing just as easily as he is. They finally get to Cett’s room, where he is with his son. Vin fights them at first, but when she discovers that neither of them is an allomancer and that Cett doesn’t have a single allomancer with him, she leaves them behind, injured and scared.
The crew sees that Cett’s army is now leaving, a result of Vin’s attack on his keep the night before. Elend does not know why Vin attacked Cett like that. Some in the crew think she’s crazy, but Elend just sees her as determined. They also discover that the “coins” Jastes has been using to control the koloss are fake, wooden coins painted gold. Elend goes to find Vin, who is hiding in the city. He finds her with OreSeur’s help. She says she must leave Luthadel and go north, to Terris. Elend says he trust her to do the right thing. They have one large bead of atium, and Vin gives it to OreSeur to hold for her.
Sazed and Tindwyl compare notes, studying the rubbing and other references they’ve managed to find. Tindwyl admits that she doesn’t believe in these prophecies, her interest in them being purely academic. Sazed, on the other hand, thinks Vin might actually be the next Hero of the Ages. While they talk, they discover that someone–or something–has torn a piece from one of the transcription pages. Vin comes in, while they try to figure out at what point were they both gone or occupied to not have seen an intruder going through their things. Vin asks Sazed how she can know if she’s in love. They talk about trust. After Vin leaves, Elend comes in and starts asking similar questions. Elend thinks he and Vin are too different to make a couple, but Sazed says that, to him, they are more alike than they think. After Elend leaves, Sazed realizes that Luthadel is going to fall soon; he needs to get both Elend and Vin out of the city before that happens.
Sazed calls a meeting with the members of the crew: Dockson, Breeze, Ham, and Clubs. He doesn’t invite Elend, Vin, or Spook. They talk about how the city is sure to fall. Straff apparently is in no hurry to take Luthadel. Instead, he’ll back off and let the koloss attack the city first. The koloss will win and enter the city, pillaging as they go. Then, with the koloss weakened and tired from the fight, Venture will ride in like a hero and save the city, defeating the koloss and taking Luthadel for himself. Sazed says that Elend and Vin need to get out of the city before these things happen. He wants Spook and Tindwyl to go with them. The rest of the group will have to stay and fight and die. Meanwhile, Vin feels she must follow the drumming she hears all the time. In Straff’s camp, Zane is attacked by his father’s men. He defeats them, but spares his father. He leaves, saying that tonight he will take Vin with him and leave Luthadel. He tells Straff that he should wait for the koloss to attack and then take the city.
Vin is in her room with OreSeur when Zane visits. He wants her to come with him, but she says she can’t because she doesn’t want to leave Elend. When Zane sees that she won’t go, he attacks her. They fight. When Zane starts to burn atium, Vin asks OreSeur for the large bead, a bead Zan had given her before. OreSeur doesn’t respond to her command. Vin discovers that OreSeur is not OreSeur. He is TenSoon, Zane’s kandra. Of course! There was no other spy. The bones they found were TenSoon’s and he had killed OreSeur! Zane corners Vin, but Vin uses a massive soothing to take control of OreSeur/TenSoon and attack Zane from behind. She then cuts the bead of atium fro TenSoon. But this is another trick. The bead is lead, with only a thin layer of atium. Soon, Vin is left helpless against a Mistborn killer with atium. Vin decides that Zane can see what she’s about to do, or, rather, what she plans on doing. If she attacks without thinking, though, she can, see in Zane’s reaction what she is going to do, only to change it at the last possible second. The trick works, and Vin defeats Zane. After Zane dies, she thanks OreSeur/TenSoon for helping her win. His contract is void, and he must return to his people. Vin goes to find Elend.
Elend is in his study when Vin comes in, bloody from her fight with Zane. She tells him that she killed him. He calls for Sazed, who comes to help with the wounds. While she is there, on the ground, she asks Sazed if he knows any wedding ceremonies. Of course, he knows hundreds. Vin asks which one is the shortest, and Sazed recalls one that only requires a declaration of love between the bride and groom before an ordained witness. Vin and Elend both say that they love each other, and Sazed declares them married. The wounds are clean, and Sazed sends Vin to get some rest. He also gives them a fake map to find the Well of Ascension. If the couple follows the map, they’ll be gone from Luthadel for a long time.
Elend and Vin prepare to ride out of the city. Tindwyl decides to stay in Luthadel. Spooks gets ready to go, and Allrianne will ride out, at Breeze’s insistence. So the four of them ride out, Vin quickly having to fight pursuers from Straff’s army. Once they are free, Allrianne breaks off to find her father’s army. Meanwhile, some of the crew watch as the escape, now sure of their own coming doom. Straff Venture hears of the escapes, but he has problems of his own now. He’s getting sick, which he knows is the result of poisoning from his son, Zane. He sends for his mistress, Amaranta, to fix him an antidote, but he discovers that she isn’t preparing what she normally does. She is actually killing, as she has for a long time. There never was any poison. Zane never tried to kill his father. But Amaranta, in her constant fixing of teas for Straff, has been causing him to become addicted to a rare drug. Without that drug, Straff will die. Straff, in a rage, kills Amaranta and then swallows as much powder from her medicine cabnet as he can, hoping to accidentally swallow some of the drug he needs before he loses consciousness.
Allrianne has made her way to her father’s camp, with the help of some bandits she’s tamed with her rioting. Her father, Cett, is not happy to see her. She convinces him to go back and join the winning party in the battle that is to come, although Cett promises that will likely be Straff. Meanwhile, Elend wakes up on the third morning out of Luthadel. He and Vin share a tent now, and he finds himself surprisingly comfortable on the hard ground, with Vin next to him. They get up and prepare the fire. It’s just the three of them: Elend, Vin, and Spook. Meanwhile Straff wakes up in bed. His men have taken care of him, and they’ve isolated the plant he needs to stay alive. When he hears that Vin and Elend have left the city, the men ask if they should attack now. Straff says no; they should pull back and wait for the koloss. Sazed meets with the others to plan a strategy for when the koloss attack. They plan to have a group of men at each gate. Saze and Tindwyl get a little time together, but then the warning drums begin to beat.
Vin is thinking about how the mist is staying later and later every day, instead of just disappearing with dawn, when she feels the pulsing of the mist spirit coming from Elend’s tent. She runs in, just in time to see the outline of that spirit lift some kind of knife to attack Elend, who is sleeping on the ground. She attacks the spirit and it disappears. Elend wakes up and never knows what was happening. She leaves Elend to sleep a little more and goes out to speak with Spook. He thinks someone is following them. Meanwhile, Sazed and the crew get ready, since it looks like the Koloss are about to attack. Men are at each gate, with one crewmember there to help. Straff sees that the koloss are attacking, but he tells his men to wait. Vin and Elend attack the camp of people that have been following them. It turns out to be Jastes. He’s lost control of the koloss, so he just left them. Elend kills Jastes because of his crimes against Luthadel. Vin discovers that the drumming sounds are getting softer, meaning the well is to the south, in Luthadel, and not in the Terris mountains.
Breeze works at his assigned gate, soothing soldiers by the dozen, helping them to be brave and fight well. The koloss pound at the door, while men atop the wall rain arrows down on the attackers. The koloss throw rocks up in return, smashing archers. Meanwhile, Vin runs towards Luthadel, burning pewter. She knows she will run out of pewter long before reaching Luthadel, and she wonders if the effect will kill her. But still she keeps running. Breeze and Clubs talk while the koloss continue to beat the gate. They blame themselves for being stupid enough to be in this mess, and they blame Kelsier for getting them into such responsibilities. Just then, the gates burst open. Meanwhile, Sazed gets word that Breeze’s gate had fallen. He doesn’t think he can really help. He notices that there is a crowd of skaa standing behind the defense force. When Sazed confronts them, telling them that they should flee to safety inside the city, the skaa answer that they are there to witness the fall of the koloss at the hands of Vin, who they are sure will return and make her appearance at Sazed’s gate. Then the gate breaks. Sazed musters his stored strength, growing in size, and faces the lead koloss, shouting for the men to fight. Vin, half collapsing and out of pewter, reaching a small village. At first she thinks to ask for pewter, but then she remembers how she used to travel with Kelsier on a path of metal bars in the ground. She asks for horseshoes, using them to “walk” by leaping, placing horseshoes ahead of her and pulling the ones behind to place further. In this way, she uses the horseshoes like stilts to help her travel in the air.
Outside Luthadel, Straff Venture sees that the koloss have now broken into the city gates. His men are ready to attack the koloss from the rear, but Straff decides to wait longer. Sazed, fighting the koloss, realizes that they need to get the gate closed again in order to survive. Using strength and weight, he manages to fight off the koloss and get the gate closed again. While getting a little break, a messenger comes and says that Tindwyl’s gate fell over an hour ago. Meanwhile, Clubs and Breeze are attacked and forced to run. Clubs is killed, while Breeze hides in a building. Dockson contemplates the root of their failure. He attacks a koloss, only to be cut down. Straff decides not to swoop in a save the city while the koloss are weak. Instead, he’d rather wait for the koloss to kill everyone and burn the city. Then Straff will move in. Meanwhile, Sazed fights on, wondering what happened to Tindwyl. He feels he is going to die, but then Vin arrives and starts killing koloss. Breeze is found by Ham and some others. They want to try to escape.
Vin continues killing koloss, several at a time. Sazed, outside Lord Penrod’s keep, begs the newly appointed king to go with them as they try to escape. Penrod insists on staying inside his keep. Vin continues to fight the koloss, but now she is almost completely out of pewter, steel, and almost every other metal. In desperation, to save some skaa from certain death, she super-soothes them, like she’d done to TenSoon, controlling the koloss with her mind. Sazed is standing outside Penrod’s keep when Vin walks up with koloss in tow. She orders Penrod to gather his men and put out the fires in Luthadel. Vin will take care of the koloss throughout the city. Later, Sazed finds Tindwyl’s dead body among the slain soldiers. He feels that all the faith, all the religions, he has always treasured is now useless. His life, he believes, has been a sham.
Straff wakes up and takes a sample of the drug he needs to stay alive. He gathers his men, expecting to be able to take the city now. But the koloss come out with the remaining soldiers of Luthadel. Vin jumps from among the koloss, sailing through the sky with a giant sword, cleaving Straff and his horse in half on impact. Allrianne watches these events from her father’s camp. She charges after them to help Luthadel’s army, forcing her father and his men to ride after her. Straff’s army surrenders, and Janarle, Straff’s general, is named the new Lord of the Venture army. Janarle, Penrod, and Cett all swear loyalty to Elend as their Emperor. Vin, needing rest, leaves Sazed in charge of the Empire until Elend can return to Luthadel.