Life of Pi
How we cite our quotes:
For the first time I noticed – as I would notice repeatedly during my ordeal, between one throe of agony and the next – that my suffering was taking place in a grand setting. I saw my suffering for what it was, finite and insignificant, and I was still. My suffering did not fit anywhere, I realized. And I could accept this. It was all right. (2.60.1)
Pi realizes his suffering is taking place in the middle of an ocean. A vast, seemingly infinite setting. Instead of seeing himself as the absolute center of this setting, Pi believes the setting makes his suffering all the more insignificant. Perhaps as purposeless. Could Pi have believed the opposite? Could he have aggrandized his suffering?
Salt-water boils – red, angry, disfiguring – were a leprosy of the high seas, transmitted by the water that soaked me. Where they burst, my skin was especially sensitive; accidentally rubbing an open sore was so painful I would gasp and cry out. Naturally, these boils developed on the parts of my body that got the most wet and the most wear on the raft; that is, my backside. There were days when I could hardly find a position in which I could rest. Time and sunshine healed a sore, but the process was slow, and new boils appeared if I didn't stay dry. (2.64.2)
Ouch. Take a second to think about these boils. They're caused by the very element in which Pi now lives. It's like saying breathing air gives me leprosy. There's no escape for poor Pi. To add insult to injury, Pi gets these very painful boils on his butt. He can't even sit down to rest without aggravating his sores. What's a fellow to do? Suffer. And suffer some more.
I will further confess that, driven by the extremity of my need and the madness to which it pushed me, I ate some of his flesh. I mean small pieces, little strips that I meant for the gaff's hook that, when dried by the sun, looked like ordinary animal flesh. They slipped into my mouth nearly unnoticed. You must understand, my suffering was unremitting and he was already dead. (2.91.4)
This terrible deed occurs after Pi's encounter with the French castaway. The flesh in question is the Frenchman's. Don't forget that Pi more or less later identifies himself with Richard Parker later. The same Richard Parker who mauls the French castaway. If you're into the second scheme of the story, the French castaway is also the French cook. All said and done, Pi's suffering drives him to do things that would otherwise be inconceivable.