“I was giving up. I would have given up – ... if a voice hadn't made itself heard in my heart. The voice said, "I will not die. I refuse it. I will make it through this nightmare. I will beat the odds, as great as they are. I have survived so far, miraculously. Now I will turn miracle into routine. The amazing will be seen every day. I will put in all the hard work necessary. Yes, so long as God is with me, I will not die. Amen."
John describes how each day he survives is a miracle. John daily routine of survival takes on the quality of spiritual exercises like prayer or fasting and how John learns how to survive on the Pacific Ocean without any food or fresh water supplies. His feasts, especially turtle blood, become sacramental. The right time and difficult situations in life can change or sometimes reveal many new sides of a person’s character such as John, where he went from being a vegetarian for life to a meat eater, only because he needed to keep his body alive.
John butchers, a small hawksbill turtle and drinks its blood, which the survival manual recommends as a nutritious and salt-free thirst quencher, and because the turtle was too heavy for the raft, John had to do this butchery on the lifeboat tarpaulin. He then decided he needed to train Michael Richard to allow him onto the lifeboat more regularly. The knowledge of wild animals, their behaviour and natural instincts becomes his only defence against a Tiger, when both of them are stranded in a lifeboat for seven months.
Since John is a religious believer, religiosity is perhaps the most notable trait of John’s character even before he leaves his home in Pondicherry to immigrate to Canada with the remains of their zoo. Born a Hindu, he chooses to be baptized a Christian and practice Islam, not instead, but as well.
“It was the first sentient being I had ever killed. I was now a killer.” John’s, good side wouldn’t allow him to behead the fish because he believed that it would be murder and animal cruelty, but once he performed that action he felt that he was a killer.