Life of Pi
How we cite our quotes:
A foul and pungent smell, an earthy mix of rust and excrement, hung in the air. There was blood everywhere, coagulating to a deep red crust. A single fly buzzed about, sounding to me like an alarm bell of insanity. No ship, nothing at all, had appeared on the horizon that day, and now the day was ending. (2.46.10)
The hyena has ripped open the zebra's flesh. Orange Juice and the hyena have nearly come to blows. Sharks are swimming underneath the lifeboat. Blood is everywhere. Pi is completely alone. No wonder Pi hears an alarm bell in the fly's buzzing. Pi's surroundings have changed drastically within a short amount of time. He's gone from the comforts of his Pondicherry zoo to unchecked bloodletting in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Considering all this, we're surprised only one alarm bell of insanity buzzes around the lifeboat.
I tried once to eat Richard Parker's feces. It happened early on, when my system hadn't learned yet to live with hunger and my imagination was still wildly searching for solutions. (2.77.7)
OK. That's gross. At this point, Pi loses his manners. Hunger and thirst often lead the characters of this novel to madness. Martel describes the deranged gleam in Richard Parker's eye when he's hungry. As if, for Martel, madness begins in hunger and thirst. But can we really call acts like this one madness? Isn't it sane to look for food everywhere when you're starving?
To be a castaway is to be a point perpetually at the center of a circle. [...]. When you look up, you sometimes wonder if [...] there isn't another one like you also looking up, also trapped by geometry, also struggling with fear, rage, madness, apathy. (2.78.5)
Pi describes the feeling, at sea, of being the absolute center. No matter where he is, the distance to the horizon remains the same. But the phrase "perpetually at the centre," for Pi, also suggests loneliness and spiritual abandonment. And such utter and extreme isolation, for Pi and anyone else, leads to madness.