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Life of Pi

Life of Pi

by Yann Martel

Fear Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

Several times I had fits of fearful trembling. Precisely where I wanted to be most still – my legs – was where I trembled most. My legs drummed upon the tarpaulin. A more obvious rapping on Richard Parker's door couldn't be imagined. The trembling spread to my arms and it was all I could do to hold on. Each fit passed. (2.41.8)

It's easy to forget how extremely frightened Pi is – he's often humorous and playful during his 227 days at sea. But here an uncontrollable fear takes hold of Pi. He's unable to calm his body and his trembling is so bad he almost incites Richard Parker. Kudos to Pi, though. We at Shmoop would not only be trembling, we'd be dancing the ugly breakdance of terror.

Quote #5

As evening approached, my anxiety grew. Everything about the end of the day scared me. At night a ship would have difficulty seeing me. At night the hyena might become active again and maybe Orange Juice too.

Darkness came. There was no moon. Clouds hid the stars. The contour of things became hard to distinguish. Everything disappeared, the sea, the lifeboat, my own body. The sea was quiet and there was hardly any wind, so I couldn't even ground myself in sound. I seemed to be floating in pure, abstract blackness. I kept my eyes fixed on where I thought the horizon was, while my ears were on guard for any sign of the animals. I couldn't imagine lasting the night. (2.44.2-3)

Can things get any worse? Yes. Night obscures and hides everything from Pi. If you thought hanging out with a crazed hyena was bad, try hanging out with a crazed hyena at night. Of course Pi fears the night because he can't keep tabs on the hyena, but he also fears it because he can't see "the contour of things." Even the objects of the world, cloaked in darkness, have abandoned him.

Quote #6

Orange Juice hit the hyena on the head with her other arm, but the blow only made the beast snarl viciously. She made to bite, but the hyena moved faster. Alas, Orange Juice's defence lacked precision and coherence. Her fear was something useless that only hampered her. The hyena let go of her wrist and expertly got to her throat.

[...]. To the end she reminded me of us: her eyes expressed fear in such a humanlike way, as did her strained whimpers. (2.47.13-4)

Perhaps Pi learns a lesson from Orange Juice the orang-utan: fear is crippling. Even though he feels like taking the fetal position, crying, listing his troubles to a higher being, he needs to construct a defense of "precision and coherence." That means training Richard Parker, even though Richard Parker is scarier than the scariest thing you can think of.

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