Earlier we asked the 11th RB Quiz question, namely:
What links the chilly destination of a fictional submarine on a rescue mission, a laughably strange halal meat permitted by some islamic sects, an unlucky participant of the mutiny on The Grampus, and The Murders in the Rue Morgue?
The winner was Ian Russell, who now finds himself in possession of the world’s tastiest hypothetical cream bun!
the detailed answer is…
Yann Martell’s The Life of Pi !
The chilly destination of the fictional submarine the USS Dolphin is Ice Station Zebra, location of Alistair MacLean’s gripping cold war novel of the same name. An unfortunate Zebra with a broken leg features as a passenger on Pi’s boat – until the hyena on board decides to slowly devour the zebra alive, limb by limb.
The Hyena is also the answer to the second clue, the Striped Hyena being one of the few carnivorous animals that are considered Halal, as the scavenging hyena is viewed as being technically an omnivore rather than a true carnivore.
The Mutiny on the Grampus features as part of Edgar Allen Poe’s only complete novel, a darkly twisted tale of madness and cannibalism on the high seas called The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.
After their ship capsizes in a storm, a surviving sailor named Richard Parker suggests that the starving mutineers draw lots to see who should be sacrificed and eaten. Unfortunately for him, it turns out to be his straw that is shortest and his shipmates have him for tea. As well as Poe’s character, Richard Parker is the name of several people in real life and fiction who coincidentally became shipwrecked, with some of them subsequently being cannibalised by their fellow seamen:
- In 1846, the Francis Spaight foundered at sea. Apprentice Richard Parker was among the twenty-one drowning victims of that incident, though there were no cases of cannibalism.
- In 1884, the yacht Mignonette sank. Four people survived, drifted in a life boat, and finally killed one of them, the cabin boy Richard Parker, for food.
- (Another Richard Parker was involved in the Spithead and Nore Mutiny in 1797 and subsequently hanged, but not eaten.)
Writer Yann Martell picked up on these occurrences, surmising “So many Richard Parkers had to mean something”, and included a shipwrecked bengal tiger by the name of “Richard Parker” in the book.
The final animal passenger on Pi’s boat is a placid Orangutan called Orange Juice who is also killed early on by the crazed hyena. One of Edgar Allen Poe’s most famous short stories is The Murders in the Rue Morgue, which contains one of the first fictional detectives, named Dupin, who solves a murder by deducing that a strange hair left at the scene of the crime is not a human hair, but that of a deadly orangutan.