I read this (I regret to confess), because it won the Booker Prize, back in 2002, and not because I am a connoisseur of fine modern literature. Nevertheless, Yann Martel's third book is a lovely read, full of whimsy. As the insurance assessors at the end note, it's never really clear whether we're dealing with a wholly fictitious account of extraordinary events that might occur, or an allegorical tale, or something else entirely.
I threw the lifebuoy mightily. It fell in the water right in front of him. With his last energies he stretched forward and took hold of it.
"Hold on tight, I'll pull you in. Don't let go. Pull with your eyes while I pull with my hands. In a few seconds you'll be aboard and we'll be together. Wait a second. Together? We'll be together? Have I gone mad?"
I woke up to what I was doing. I yanked on the rope.
"Let go of that lifebuoy, Richard Parker! Let go, I said. I don't want you here, do you understand? Go somewhere else. Leave me alone. Get lost. Drown! Drown!"
He was kicking vigourously with his legs. I grabbed an oar. I thrust it at him, meaning to push him away. I missed and lost hold of the oar.
I grabbed another oar. I dropped it in an oarlock and pulled as hard as I could, meaning to move the lifeboat away. All I accomplished was to turn the lifeboat a little, bringing one end close to Richard Parker.
I would hit him on the head! I lifted the oar in the air.
He was too fast. He reached up and pulled himself aboard.
"Oh my God!"
Ravi was right. Truly I was to be the next goat. I had a wet, trembling, half-drowned, heaving and coughing three-year-old adult Bengal tiger in my lifeboat.