We think Pi's epiphany here counts as one of the major epiphanies of the book. Pi realizes he has to live with Richard Parker instead of either: a) in fear of him; or b) with no Richard Parker at all (i.e., he must kill Richard Parker). Pi throws out his plots to kill the tiger. Something like love begins to develop between Pi and Richard Parker. Perhaps, it's also worth noting that love happens only after a rigid social hierarchy has been established between Pi and Richard Parker (see 1.13.3).
Was it tricky to find just the right balance in a sequence like that?
Hemphill: Very. Volume changes, revealing things but leaving the audience enough room to dive into the story — all the little adjustments make such a big difference. I'll give you another example: One of our biggest challenges was when Pi and Richard Parker are in the lifeboat and they're dying, and the tiger's head is in his lap, and Pi says, "Can you feel the /”>?" We worked hard to get the flat, dead-sounding /”> plops, and have that be very sparse and funereal. And with Richard Parker's vocals, we made a very conscious choice not to have any growls, just labored breathing and wheezing. As Ang said, Richard Parker has his head on Pi's lap not because he's his friend, but because he's too weak to attack him.
Theme: The relationship between Pi Patel and Richard Parker
Pi and Richard Parker get the opportunity to know each other a lot better when a storm at sea makes them unwilling companions. As they float along on a lifeboat, Pi is all too aware that he’d make a great meal for the tiger. And Richard Parker is no doubt thinking the same thing.