Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Taming Richard Parker

When he reaches the island, Pi decides that he will tame Richard Parker. He says, "I had to tame him. It was at that moment that I realized this necessity. It was not a question of him or me, but of him and me. We were, literally and figuratively, in the same boat. We would live-or we would die-together" (164). After hearing both the "story-truth" and the "happening-truth," I have two inquiries. First, does Pi simply invent Richard Parker, as Tom Hanks does with "Wilson" in Cast Away? Does Pi find some inanimate object like a turtle shell that he names Richard Parker? Does he just invent this wild story, aiming his invention at no inanimate or animate object in particular? If this is the case, then he has reason to live without insanity, or the survivor's definition of insanity. He uses all this energy to make some kind of energy to focus and pull from. He survives because he is not insane, but determined to save the life of a loved friend.
However, Pi could be Richard Parker. Richard Parker could be Pi. Just like the Japanese men decided, Richard Parker could be the alias of Piscine Molitor Patel. In Freudian psychology, some believe that a person has an id, ego, and superego. An id is the impulsive side of a personality, the superego is the conscience, and the ego is the tug of war between the two. Because he was deprived of human connection and was forced into a situation of pure isolation, maybe his caveman sense of impulse gave way. Maybe the Richard Parker side is his impulsive, dangerous side and the quiet, pious side is his conscience. On page 164, he talks about "taming Richard Parker." Maybe at this point, he has realized what he has done in the past and tries to be more balanced, i.e. using the ego side. Maybe the carnivorous tree is his realization of what he has done and his idea to tame Richard Parker is his decision to tame himself.
The quote, "A part of me did not want Richard Parker to die at all, because if he died I would be left alone with despair, a foe even more formidable than a tiger. If I still had the will to live, it was thanks to Richard Parker. He kept me from thinking too much about my family and my tragic circumstances," maybe symbolizes Pi's realization of this part of him (164). He realizes what he has seen and how he has acted and maybe wants to change. However, maybe he also realizes that this invention of Richard Parker has kept him from thinking melancholy thoughts. He has made Pi focused on survival and life. Therefore, I believe that both the invention of Richard Parker and Pi's alias both make sense when put together.

1 comment:

  1. Hate to throw a monkey wrench in this great analysis, but the entire story is fantasy. There was no Pi and no shipwreck, therefore no need to 'explain' the tiger.