Major Characters In Life Of Pi English Literature Essay

Piscine Molitor Patel is the supporter and, for most of the novel, the storyteller. In the chapters that frame the chief narrative, Pi, as a shy, greying, middle-aged adult male, tells the writer about his early childhood and the shipwreck that changed his life. This narrative device distances the reader from the truth. We do n’t cognize whether Pi ‘s narrative is accurate or what pieces to believe. This consequence is knowing ; throughout Pi emphasizes the importance of taking the better narrative, believing that imaginativeness trumps cold, difficult facts. As a kid, he reads widely and embraces many faiths and their rich narrations that provide significance and dimension to life. In his interviews with the Nipponese research workers after his deliverance, he offers foremost the more notional version of his clip at sea. But, at their behest, he so provides an alternate version that is more realistic but finally less appealing to both himself and his inquirers. The construction of the fresh both illustrates Pi ‘s specifying characteristic, his dependance on and love of narratives, and highlights the built-in troubles in swearing his version of events.

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Though the narrative leaps back and Forth in clip, the fresh hints Pi ‘s development and ripening in a traditional bildungsroman, or coming-of-age narrative. Pi is an eager, outgoing, and excitable kid, dependant on his household for protection and counsel. In school, his primary concerns affect forestalling his classmates from misspeaking his name and acquisition every bit much as he can about faith and fauna. But when the ship sinks, Pi is torn from his household and left entirely on a lifeboat with wild animate beings. The catastrophe serves as the accelerator in his emotional growing ; he must now go self-sufficing. Though he mourns the loss of his household and frights for his life, he rises to the challenge. He finds a survival usher and exigency commissariats. Questioning his ain values, he decides that his vegetarianism is a luxury under the conditions and learns to angle. He competently protects himself from Richard Parker and even assumes a parental relationship with the tiger, supplying him with nutrient and maintaining him in line. The lay waste toing shipwreck turns Pi into an grownup, able to fend for himself out in the universe entirely.

Pi ‘s belief in God inspires him as a kid and helps prolong him while at sea. In Pondicherry, his unbelieving biological science instructor challenges his Hindu religion in God, doing him recognize the positive power of belief, the demand to get the better of the otherwise desolation of the existence. Motivated to larn more, Pi starts practising Christianity and Islam, recognizing these faiths all portion the same foundation: belief in a loving higher power. His burgeoning demand for religious connexion deepens while at sea. In his first yearss on the lifeboat, he about gives up, unable to bear the loss of his household and unwilling to confront the troubles that still await him. At that point, nevertheless, he realizes that the fact he is still alive agencies that God is with him ; he has been given a miracle. This thought gives him strength, and he decides to contend to stay alive. Throughout his escapade, he prays on a regular basis, which provides him with consolation, a sense of connexion to something greater, and a manner to go through the clip.

Richard Parker

Pi ‘s comrade throughout his ordeal at sea is Richard Parker, a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger. Unlike many novels in which animate beings speak or act like worlds, Richard Parker is portrayed as a existent animate being that acts in ways true to his species. It can be hard to accept that a tiger and a male child could be on a lifeboat entirely, nevertheless, in the context of the novel, it seems plausible. Captured as a greenhorn, Parker grew up in the menagerie and is accustomed to a life in imprisonment. He is used to zookeepers developing and supplying for him, so he is able to react to cues from Pi and submit to his laterality. However, he is no docile house cat. He has been tamed, but he still acts instinctually, swimming for the lifeboat in hunt of shelter and killing the hyaena and the unsighted outcast for nutrient. When the two wash up on the shore of Mexico, Richard Parker does n’t pull out his separating with Pi, he merely runs off into the jungle, ne’er to be seen once more.

Though Richard Parker is rather awful, ironically his presence helps Pi stay alive. Entirely on the lifeboat, Pi has many issues to confront in add-on to the tiger onboard: deficiency of nutrient and H2O, predatory marine life, unreliable sea currents, and exposure to the elements. Overwhelmed by the fortunes and terrified of deceasing, Pi becomes overwrought and unable to take action. However, he shortly realizes that his most immediate menace is Richard Parker. His other jobs now temporarily forgotten, Pi manages, through several preparation exercisings, to rule Parker. This success gives him assurance, doing his other obstructions seem less unsurmountable. Renewed, Pi is able to take concrete stairss toward guaranting his continued being: searching for nutrient and maintaining himself motivated. Caring and supplying for Richard Parker keeps Pi busy and passes the clip. Without Richard Parker to dispute and deflect him, Pi might hold given up on life. After he washes up on land in Mexico, he thanks the tiger for maintaining him alive.

Richard Parker symbolizes Pi ‘s most animalistic inherent aptitudes. Out on the lifeboat, Pi must execute many actions to remain alive that he would hold found impossible in his normal life. An professed vegetarian, he must kill fish and eat their flesh. As clip progresses, he becomes more beastly about it, rupturing apart birds and avariciously stuffing them in his oral cavity, the manner Richard Parker does. After Richard Parker mauls the blind Frenchman, Pi uses the adult male ‘s flesh for come-on and even eats some of it, going cannibalistic in his grim hungriness. In his 2nd narrative to the Nipponese research workers, Pi is Richard Parker. He kills his female parent ‘s liquidator. Parker is the version of himself that Pi has invented to do his narrative more toothsome, both to himself and to his audience. The ferociousness of his female parent ‘s decease and his ain shocking act of retaliation are excessively much for Pi to cover with, and he finds it easier to conceive of a tiger as the slayer, instead than himself in that function.

Character List

Piscine Molitor Patel ( Pi ) A -A The supporter of the narrative. Piscine is the storyteller for most of the novel, and his history of his seven months at sea signifiers the majority of the narrative. He gets his unusual name from the Gallic word for pool-and, more specifically, from a pool in Paris in which a close household friend, Francis Adirubasamy, loved to swim. A pupil of fauna and faith, Pi is profoundly intrigued by the wonts and features of animate beings and people.

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Richard ParkerA -A The Royal Bengal tiger with whom Pi portions his lifeboat. His capturer, Richard Parker, named him Thirsty, but a transportation clerk made a error and reversed their names. From so on, at the Pondicherry Zoo, he was known as Richard Parker. Weighing 450 lbs and about nine pess long, he kills the hyaena on the lifeboat and the blind man-eater. With Pi, nevertheless, Richard Parker acts as an Z, or submissive, carnal, esteeming Pi ‘s laterality.

Read an in-depth analysis of Richard Parker.

The AuthorA -A The storyteller of the ( fabricated ) Writer ‘s Note, who inserts himself into the narrative at several points throughout the text. Though the writer who pens the Author ‘s Note ne’er identifies himself by name, there are many hints that indicate it is Yann Martel himself, thinly disguised: he lives in Canada, has published two books, and was inspired to compose Pi ‘s life narrative during a trip to India.

Francis AdirubasamyA -A The aged adult male who tells the writer Pi ‘s narrative during a opportunity meeting in a Pondicherry java store. He taught Pi to swim as a kid and bestowed upon him his unusual nickname. He arranges for the writer to run into Pi in individual, so as to acquire a first-person history of his strange and compelling narrative. Pi calls him Mamaji, an Indian term that means well-thought-of uncle.

RaviA -A Pi ‘s older brother. Ravi prefers athleticss to schoolwork and is rather popular. He teases his younger brother pitilessly over his devotedness to three faiths.

Santosh PatelA -A Pi ‘s male parent. He one time owned a Madras hotel, but because of his deep involvement in animate beings decided to run the Pondicherry Zoo. A fuss-budget by nature, he teaches his boies non merely to care for and command wild animate beings, but to fear them. Though raised a Hindu, he is non spiritual and is puzzled by Pi ‘s acceptance of legion faiths. The hard conditions in India lead him to travel his household to Canada.

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Gita PatelA -A Pi ‘s beloved female parent and defender. A book lover, she encourages Pi to read widely. Raised Hindu with a Baptist instruction, she does non subscribe to any faith and inquiries Pi ‘s spiritual declarations. She speaks her head, allowing her hubby know when she disagrees with his rearing techniques. When Pi relates another version of his narrative to his saviors, she takes the topographic point of Orange Juice on the lifeboat.

Satish KumarA -A Pi ‘s unbelieving biological science instructor at Petit Seminaire, a secondary school in Pondicherry. A infantile paralysis subsister, he is an odd-looking adult male, with a organic structure shaped like a trigon. His devotedness to the power of scientific enquiry and account inspires Pi to analyze fauna in college.

Father MartinA -A The Catholic priest who introduces Pi to Christianity after Pi wanders into his church. He preaches a message of love. He, the Muslim Mr. Kumar, and the Hindu pandit disagree about whose faith Pi should pattern.

Satish KumarA -A A plain-featured Muslim mystic with the same name as Pi ‘s biological science instructor. He works in a bakeshop. Like the other Mr. Kumar, this 1 has a strong consequence on Pi ‘s academic programs: his religion leads Pi to analyze faith at college.

The Hindu PanditA -A One of three of import spiritual figures in the novel. Never given a name, he is outraged when Pi, who was raised Hindu, begins practising other faiths. He and the other two spiritual leaders are quieted slightly by Pi ‘s declaration that he merely wants to love God.

Meena PatelA -A Pi ‘s married woman, whom the writer meets briefly in Toronto.

Nikhil Patel ( Nick ) A -A Pi ‘s boy. He plays baseball.

Usha PatelA -A Pi ‘s immature girl. She is diffident but really near to her male parent.

The HyenaA -A An ugly, intensely violent animate being. He controls the lifeboat before Richard Parker emerges.

The ZebraA -A A beautiful male Grant ‘s zebra. He breaks his leg jumping into the lifeboat. The hyena tortures him and eats him alive.

Orange JuiceA -A The maternal Pongo pygmaeus that floats to the lifeboat on a raft of bananas. She suffers about anthropomorphic turns of solitariness and mal de mer. When the hyaena attacks her, she fights back valorously but is however killed and decapitated.

The Blind FrenchmanA -A A fellow outcast whom Pi meets by opportunity in the center of the ocean. Driven by hungriness and despair, he tries to kill and cannibalise Pi, but Richard Parker kills him foremost.

Tomohiro OkamotoA -A An functionary from the Maritime Department of the Nipponese Ministry of Transport, who is look intoing the sinking of the Nipponese Tsimtsum. Along with his helper, Atsuro Chiba, Okamoto interviews Pi for three hours and is extremely disbelieving of his first history.

Atsuro ChibaA -A Okamoto ‘s helper. Chiba is the more naA?ve and trusting of the two Nipponese functionaries, and his rawness at carry oning interviews gets on his higher-up ‘s nervousnesss. Chiba agrees with Pi that the version of his ordeal with animate beings is the better than the 1 with people.

The CookA -A The human opposite number to the hyaena in Pi ‘s 2nd narrative. He is ill-mannered and violent and caches nutrient on the lifeboat. After he kills the crewman and Pi ‘s female parent, Pi stabs him and he dies.

The SailorA -A The human opposite number to the zebra in Pi ‘s 2nd narrative. He is immature, beautiful, and alien. He speaks merely Chinese and is really sad and lonely in the lifeboat. He broke his leg leaping off the ship, and it becomes infected. The cook cuts off the leg, and the crewman dies easy.


Subjects, Motifs & A ; Symbols


The Will to Populate

Life of Pi is a narrative about fighting to last through apparently unsurmountable odds. The shipwrecked dwellers of the small lifeboat do n’t merely assent to their destiny: they actively fight against it. Pi abandons his womb-to-tomb vegetarianism and chows fish to prolong himself. Orange Juice, the peaceable Pongo pygmaeus, battles fiercely against the hyaena. Even the badly hurt zebra conflicts to remain alive ; his slow, painful battle vividly illustrates the sheer strength of his life force. As Martel makes clear in his novel, populating animals will frequently make extraordinary, unexpected, and sometimes epic things to last. However, they will besides make shameful and barbarian things if pressed. The hyaena ‘s perfidy and the unsighted Frenchman ‘s bend toward cannibalism show merely how far animals will travel when faced with the possibility of extinction. At the terminal of the novel, when Pi raises the possibility that the ferocious tiger, Richard Parker, is really an facet of his ain personality, and that Pi himself is responsible for some of the hideous events he has narrated, the reader is forced to make up one’s mind merely what kinds of actions are acceptable in a life-and-death state of affairs.

The Importance of Storytelling

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Life of Pi is a narrative within a narrative within a narrative. The novel is framed by a ( fictional ) note from the writer, Yann Martel, who describes how he foremost came to hear the antic narrative of Piscine Molitor Patel. Within the model of Martel ‘s narrative is Pi ‘s fantastical first-person history of life on the unfastened sea, which forms the majority of the book. At the terminal of the novel, a transcript taken from an question of Pi reveals the possible “ true ” narrative within that narrative: that there were no animate beings at all, and that Pi had spent those 227 yearss with other human subsisters who all finally perished, go forthing merely himself.

Pi, nevertheless, is non a prevaricator: to him, the assorted versions of his narrative each contain a different sort of truth. One version may be factually true, but the other has an emotional or thematic truth that the other can non near. Throughout the novel, Pi expresses contempt for positivists who merely put their religion in “ dry, yeastless factualness, ” when stories-which can astonish and animate hearers, and are bound to linger longer in the imagination-are, to him, boundlessly superior.

Storytelling is besides a agency of endurance. The “ true ” events of Pi ‘s sea ocean trip are excessively atrocious to contemplate straight: any immature male child would travel insane if faced with the sorts of Acts of the Apostless Pi ( indirectly ) tells his planimeters he has witnessed. By recasting his history as an unbelievable narrative about humanlike animate beings, Pi does n’t hold to confront the true inhuman treatment human existences are really capable of. Similarly, by making the character of Richard Parker, Pi can disavow the fierce, violent side of his personality that allowed him to last on the ocean. Even this is non, technically, a prevarication in Pi ‘s eyes. He believes that the tiger-like facet of his nature and the civilised, human facet base in tense resistance and occasional partnership with one another, merely as the male child Pi and the tiger Richard Parker are both enemies and Alliess.

The Nature of Religious Belief

Life of Pi begins with an old adult male in Pondicherry who tells the storyteller, “ I have a narrative that will do you believe in God. ” Storytelling and spiritual belief are two closely linked thoughts in the novel. On a actual degree, each of Pi ‘s three faiths, Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam, come with its ain set of narratives and fabrications, which are used to distribute the instructions and exemplify the beliefs of the religion. Pi enjoys the wealth of narratives, but he besides senses that, as Father Martin assured him was true of Christianity, each of these narratives might merely be facets of a greater, cosmopolitan narrative about love.

Narratives and spiritual beliefs are besides linked in Life of Pi because Pi asserts that both require religion on the portion of the hearer or fan. Surprisingly for such a spiritual male child, Pi admires atheists. To him, the of import thing is to believe in something, and Pi can appreciate an atheist ‘s ability to believe in the absence of God with no concrete cogent evidence of that absence. Pi has nil but contempt, nevertheless, for doubters, who claim that it is impossible to cognize either manner, and who therefore refrain from doing a unequivocal statement on the inquiry of God. Pi sees this as grounds of a black deficiency of imaginativeness. To him, doubters who can non do a spring of religion in either way are like hearers who can non appreciate the non-literal truth a fictional narrative might supply.


Territorial Laterality

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Though Martel ‘s text trades with the apparently unbounded nature of the sea, it besides surveies the stringency of boundaries, boundary lines, and limits. The careful manner in which Pi marks off his district and differentiates it from Richard Parker ‘s is necessary for Pi ‘s endurance. Animals are territorial animals, as Pi notes: a household Canis familiaris, for illustration, will guard its bed from interlopers as if it were a den. Lttes, as we learn from Richard Parker, are likewise territorial. They mark their infinite and specify its boundaries carefully, set uping absolute laterality over every square inch of their country. To get the hang Richard Parker, Pi must set up his control over certain zones in the lifeboat. He pours his piss over the tarp to denominate a part of the lifeboat as his district, and he uses his whistling to guarantee that Richard Parker stays within his designated infinite. The little size of the lifeboat and the comparatively big size of its dwellers make for a crowded vas. In such a confined infinite, the limit of district ensures a comparatively peaceable relationship between adult male and animal. If Richard Parker is seen as an facet of Pi ‘s ain personality, the impression that a distinguishable boundary can be erected between the two represents Pi ‘s demand to disavow the violent, animalistic side of his nature.

Hunger and Thirst

Unsurprisingly in a novel about a shipwrecked outcast, the characters in Life of Pi are continually fixated on nutrient and H2O. Ironically, the lifeboat is surrounded by nutrient and H2O ; nevertheless, the salty H2O is undrinkable and the nutrient is hard to catch. Pi invariably struggles to set down a fish or draw a polo-neck up over the side of the trade, merely as he must steadily and systematically collect fresh imbibing H2O utilizing the solar stills. The perennial battles against hungriness and thirst exemplify the crisp difference between Pi ‘s former life and his current 1 on the boat. In urban towns such as Pondicherry, people are fed like animate beings in a zoo-they ne’er have to use much attempt to obtain their nutriment. But on the unfastened ocean, it is up to Pi to fend for himself. His passage from modern civilisation to the more crude being on the unfastened sea is marked by his attitudes toward fish: ab initio Pi, a vegetarian, is loath to kill and eat an animate being. Merely one time the fish is exanimate, looking as it might in a market, does Pi experience better. As clip goes on, Pi ‘s increasing comfort with eating meat signals his embracing of his new life.


Throughout the novel, characters achieve comfort through the pattern of rites. Animals are animals of wont, as Pi establishes early on when he notes that zookeepers can state if something is incorrect with their animate beings merely by detecting alterations in their day-to-day modus operandis. Peoples, excessively, go wedded to their modus operandis, even to the point of predictability, and turn troubled during times of alteration. While spiritual traditions are a premier illustration of ritual in this novel, there are legion others. For case, Pi ‘s female parent wants to purchase coffin nails before going to Canada, for fright that she wo n’t be able to happen her peculiar trade name in Winnipeg. And Pi is able to last his pelagic ordeal mostly because he creates a series of day-to-day rites to prolong him. Without rites, modus operandis, and wonts, the fresh implies, people feel uneasy and unmoored. Rituals give construction to abstract thoughts and emotions-in other words, ritual is an alternate signifier of storytelling.



Piscine Molitor Patel ‘s preferable nickname is more than merely a sawed-off version of his given name. Indeed, the word Pi carries a host of relevant associations. It is a missive in the Grecian alphabet that besides contains alpha and omega, footings used in the book to denote dominant and submissive animals. Pi is besides an irrational mathematical figure, used to cipher distance in a circle. Often shortened to 3.14, pi has so many denary topographic points that the human head ca n’t accurately grok it, merely as, the book argues, some worlds are excessively hard or disturbing to face. These associations set up the character Pi as more than merely a realistic supporter ; he besides is an allegorical figure with multiple beds of significance.

The Color Orange

In Life of Pi, the colour orange symbolizes hope and endurance. Just before the scene in which the Tsimtsum sinks, the storyteller describes sing the grownup Pi at his place in Canada and run intoing his household. Pi ‘s girl, Usha, carries an orange cat. This minute assures the reader that the terminal of the narrative, if non happy, will non be a complete calamity, since Pi is guaranteed to last the calamity and father kids of his ain. The small orange cat recalls the large orange cat, Richard Parker, who helps Pi survive during his 227 yearss at sea. As the Tsimtsum sinks, Chinese sailors give Pi a lifejacket with an orange whistling ; on the boat, he finds an orange lifebuoy. The whistling, buoy, and tiger all aid Pi survive, merely as Orange Juice the Pongo pygmaeus provides a step of emotional support that helps the male child maintain hope in the face of hideous calamity.

Quotation marks

Important Citations Explained

1. I know zoos are no longer in people ‘s good graces. Religion faces the same job. Certain semblances about freedom pestilence them both.

Explanation for Quotation 1 & gt ; & gt ;

These words are spoken by Pi early in Part One, at the terminal of chapter 4, after a long treatment of menagerie enclosures. Mr. Patel, Pi has late told us, runs the Pondicherry Zoo, a topographic point that Pi considered Eden as a male child. Pi has heard many people say negative things about zoos-namely that they deprive baronial, wild animals of their freedom and pin down them in drilling, domesticated lives-but he disagrees. Wild animate beings in their natural home ground brush fright, combat, deficiency of nutrient, and parasites on a regular footing. Given all these biological facts, animate beings in the natural states are non free at all-rather, they are capable to a rigorous set of societal and natural Torahs that they must follow or decease. Since animate beings are animals of wont, menagerie enclosures, with abundant nutrient and H2O, clean coops, and a changeless modus operandi, are heaven for them. Given the opportunity, Pi says, most menagerie animate beings do non of all time seek to get away, unless something in their coop frightens them.

We have already learned that Pi studied fauna and faith at the University of Toronto, and the above quotation mark demonstrates merely how closely aligned the two topics are in his head. He is speedy to turn a treatment of animate being freedom into a metaphor for people ‘s spiritual dispositions. Merely as people misunderstand the nature of animate beings in the natural state, they besides misunderstand what it means for a individual to be “ free ” of any spiritual system of belief. The agnostic ( person who is unsure about the being of God and does non subscribe to any religion ) may believe he is at autonomy to believe or discredit anything he wants, but in world he does non let himself to take inventive springs. Alternatively, he endures life ‘s ups and toss off the manner an animate being in the natural state does: because he has to. A individual of religion, on the other manus, is like an animate being in an enclosure, surrounded on all sides by a version of world that is far kinder than world itself. Pi embraces spiritual philosophy for the same ground he embraces the safety and security of a zoo enclosure: it makes life easier and more enjoyable.


2. I can good conceive of an atheist ‘s last words: “ White, white! L-L-Love! My God! “ -and the deathbed spring of religion. Whereas the agnostic, if he stays true to his sensible ego, if he stays beholden to dry, yeastless factualness, might seek to explicate the warm visible radiation bathing him by stating, “ Possibly a f-f-failing oxygenation of the b-b-brain, ” and, to the really terminal, deficiency imaginativeness and miss the better narrative.

Explanation for Quotation 2 & gt ; & gt ;

Spoken by Pi, this quotation-chapter 22 in its entirety-emphasizes the of import differentiation between facts and imaginativeness, the Southern Cross of the full novel. Previously, in chapter 21, the writer used the phrases “ dry, yeastless factualness ” and “ the better narrative ” after a meeting with Pi in a cafe ; the repeat high spots this duality. Religion is aligned with imaginativeness, while deficiency of religion is linked to accurate observation and rationalism. In short, Pi is giving us a simple, straightforward account for the discrepancies of his ain narrative: the 1 with animate beings and the one without.

The quotation mark condemns those who lack prowess and imaginativeness, the inability to perpetrate to a narrative. Pi himself is a masterful creative person, a narrator, and he believes all faiths tell fantastic narratives, though non actual truths. Pi believes that atheists ( who do non believe in God ) have the capacity to believe ; they choose to believe that God does n’t be. At the terminal of their lives, they could encompass the impression of God and invent a narrative that will assist them decease in peace and contentment. Pi despises doubters for their determination to do uncertainness a manner of life. They choose to populate a life of uncertainty, without any kind of narrative to steer them. Without these narratives, our being is “ dry ” and unpalatable as unrisen or “ yeastless ” staff of life.


3. [ W ] ithout Richard Parker, I would n’t be alive today to state you my narrative.

Explanation for Quotation 3 & gt ; & gt ;

This line is spoken by Pi about halfway through the book, in chapter 57. The “ you ” in this sentence is the writer, to whom Pi relates his narrative over the class of many meetings in Canada many old ages after the ordeal. Of class, the “ you ” is besides the reader, for Pi is cognizant that he is stating his narrative to a author who has the purpose to print. By this point, we know that Richard Parker is a Royal Bengal tiger, an grownup male, who weighs 450 lbs and takes up about tierce of the lifeboat. At first, it might sound farcical that such a baleful animal should acquire recognition for maintaining alive a slender, adolescent Indian male child, but Pi explains himself compellingly. The presence of Richard Parker, though ab initio terrorizing, finally soothes him and saves him from arrant experiential solitariness. Furthermore, the necessity of preparation and taking attention of Richard Parker fills up Pi ‘s long, empty days-staying busy aid clip base on balls.

The citation can besides be considered in the context of Pi ‘s 2nd narrative, the one without animate beings, in which Pi himself is the tiger. Pi has chosen a tiger to stand for himself because of its conflicting qualities: aristocracy and force, grace and beastly force, intelligence and inherent aptitude. In a manner, these qualities are really human. But on a daily basis-for illustration, as we go to school, thrust to the supermarket, and watch Television at night-the elements of force, ferociousness, and inherent aptitudes are blunted. Alternatively of catching and killing fish, we purchase plastic-wrapped fillets ; instead than Hunt animate beings for meat, we buy steaks at the deli counter. Stripped of these comfortss, Pi must return to nature and confirm his carnal inherent aptitudes. He must get the better of his queasiness in order to eat. He must encompass aggression in order to kill the cook who might otherwise hold killed him. In crediting Richard Parker ‘s being for his ain endurance, Pi acknowledges that it is carnal inherent aptitudes, non polite convention or modern convenience, that protects him from decease.


4. Life on a lifeboat is n’t much of a life. It is like an terminal game in cheat, a game with few pieces. The elements could n’t be more simple, nor the bets higher.

Explanation for Quotation 4 & gt ; & gt ;

This remark appears about halfway through Part Two, as Pi adjusts to life at sea and philosophizes on the nature of being a outcast. In an end game in cheat, most of the game has been played out and the bulk of the cheat pieces knocked off the board.

Similarly, after the sinking of the Tsimtsum, merely a smattering of subsisters ( Pi, Richard Parker, Orange Juice, the Grant ‘s zebra, the hyaena ) remain. The few that are left are forced into a strategic conflict of marbless to see who will finally predominate. The tensenesss between the lifeboat ‘s dwellers instantly after the ship sinks are high ; each dweller knows that the game is “ sudden decease ” and that each move must be considered with particular attention. The zebra, the Pongo pygmaeus, and the hyaena all make trips and lose. But Pi fastidiously charts out his program of action, and his diligence and foresight salvage his life.

Life on a lifeboat is simple, but, stripped of all else, the bets become considerable: life or decease. Pi ‘s life in the center of the Pacific has no luxuries, no complex processes to take part in, and no vague signals to follow. Faced with legion physical dangers-Richard Parker, sharks, famishment, the blind castaway-his merely existent pick is whether to contend to populate or to give up and decease. Though he considers making otherwise, Pi chooses to contend.

The distilled quality of Pi ‘s being is similar to the sort of bare-bones life lived by many spiritual mystics, for whom depriving down to the necessities is necessary for Communion with God. A full, varied life with many distractions can overcast religion or even do it unneeded. However, within a spare and even cloistered being, God ‘s presence becomes tangible. To set it another manner, within the confines of a lifeboat, spiritualty looms every bit big as a about 10-foot, 450-pound Bengal tiger.


5. The lower you are, the higher your head will desire to surge.

Explanation for Quotation 5 & gt ; & gt ;

Pi narrates these words in chapter 93, toward the terminal of his ordeal at sea and as he is making the deepness of his desperation. As Pi references merely before this, his state of affairs seems “ every bit pointless as the conditions. ” Up to now, Pi ‘s boring life at sea has been alleviated slightly with sporadic new activities: killing fish, chastening Richard Parker, making potable H2O utilizing the solar stills, and so on. More notably, the unsighted Gallic outcast and the yearss spent on the drifting island gave Pi a alteration in everyday. But now the freshness has worn off. This subdivision, in which nil is expected to go on, drives Pi into arrant hopelessness, yet he must go on life.

At this point Pi turns to God and, Martel implies, invents the narrative that we have merely read. His head is despairing to get away the physical world of continued being on the lifeboat, and so it soars into the kingdom of fiction. At his lowest point, Pi reaches for the lone staying beginnings of redemption available to him: religion and imaginativeness. Through the secret plan ‘s staying action, Martel emphasizes that such a scheme for self-preservation can really be amazingly effectual. Immediately after this minute in the text, Pi lands on a beach in Mexico. Like a deus ex machina all of a sudden offering declaration in an antediluvian Grecian drama, the faith of storytelling is Pi ‘s flight hatch, delivering him from the deepnesss of his wretchedness.

Key Facts

full titleA A·A Life of Pi

authorA A·A Yann Martel

type of workA A·A Novel

genreA A·A Allegory ; fable

languageA A·A English

clip and topographic point writtenA A·A Researched in India and Canada and written in Canada in the late ninetiess

day of the month of first publicationA A·A 2002

publisherA A·A Canongate Books Ltd.

narratorA A·A Piscine Molitor Patel and the writer, Yann Martel

point of viewA A·A The prefatory Author ‘s Note is written in first individual by the writer, who explains how he came to hear the narrative we are about to read from Pi Patel himself. The history ( Part One and Part Two ) is told in first individual by Pi. The concluding subdivision of the book ( Part Three ) is written chiefly as a transcript of a conversation between Pi and two functionaries, bookended by first-person remarks from the writer.

toneA A·A Funny, surreal, brooding, philosophical, and, at times, journalistic

tenseA A·A Past tense

puting ( clip ) A A·A The writer tells Pi ‘s narrative from an undetermined modern-day point, some old ages after the publication of his 2nd book in 1996. Pi ‘s ordeal begins on July 2, 1977, and continues for 227 yearss.

scene ( topographic point ) A A·A Pi ‘s boyhood place in Pondicherry, India ; the Pacific Ocean ; Tomatlan, Mexico ; and, briefly, Toronto, Canada

protagonistA A·A Piscine Molitor Patel

major struggle A A·A he Tsimtsum sinks, submerging Pi ‘s full household, the crew, and most of the animate beings on board. For months, Pi, along with a Royal Bengal tiger, must contend for survival aboard a lifeboat in the center of the Pacific Ocean

lifting actionA A·A The Patel household sets sail to Canada.

climaxA A·A The first flood tide is when the Tsimstum sinks and Pi ‘s household dies, go forthing him entirely with wild animate beings on a lifeboat. Another flood tide occurs when Pi lands in Mexico.

falling actionA A·A Pi is rescued in Mexico. Two Nipponese functionaries interview him. His narrative is called into uncertainty.

themesA A·A The power of life ‘s force ; the human desire for company ; storytelling as a scheme for self-preservation

motifsA A·A Territorial laterality ; hungriness and thirst ; rites

symbolsA A·A Pi, the lifeboat, Richard Parker

foreshadowingA A·A The gap pages of the book are supremely cliff-hanging, as the writer and Pi himself continually make mention to some tragic episode in Pi ‘s life without really calling it. Pi describes his glooming province of head upon geting in Canada and explains how his spiritual and zoological surveies helped him to reconstruct his life. But it is non until the Tsimtsum sinks in Part Two and Pi loses his household that we understand the beginning of his intense agony, though we do feel it coming wholly along.


1. How does the thought of survival drama out in this text?

Answer for Study Question 1 & gt ; & gt ;

Of cardinal importance to this novel is the subject of endurance, even in apparently impossible and inauspicious conditions. For Pi, the challenge of lasting operates on several degrees. First, there is the necessity of physical endurance: he must maintain his organic structure alive. This requires nutrient and H2O, both in short supply, every bit good as protection from the elements. Pi knows he must support himself from the immediate menace, Richard Parker, but he is besides cognizant that there is a whole host of dangers waiting to make him in. Ocean storms, immense moving ridges, sharks, insolation, desiccation, drowning-any and all of these things pose a hazard to his life. Pi ‘s ingeniousness and resourcefulness ( he covers himself with moisture apparels to protect his tegument from the Sun and builds a raft from oars and lifejackets to maintain him at a safe distance from both the tiger and sharks ) enable him to stay physically safe.

Second, and more hard, is the necessity of emotional or religious survival-the fact that Pi must maintain his liquors up or else succumb to desperation. Pi says at several points that Richard Parker helped him endure ; the presence of a comrade ( even an imagined one, in the non-animal version of the narrative ) gives Pi mental strength, and the demands of caring for a tiger maintain him occupied, forestalling him from believing excessively much about his destiny.

Biological survival-living a long life, raising a household, and go throughing 1s cistrons down through the generations-represents the 3rd degree. Pi is the exclusive member of his household to last the sinking of the Tsimtsum, and he is able to make so mostly because he has inherited ( from Mamaji ) strong swimming accomplishments and an affinity for H2O. Now Pi must propagate the Patel line. When we learn that Pi is a male parent, the writer tells us, “ This narrative has a happy stoping. ” Ultimately, Pi achieves endurance in every sense.


2. What does Pi seek to pass on through his pick of the animate beings, other than the tiger, with whom he portions the lifeboat?

Answer for Study Question 2 & gt ; & gt ;

The animate beings in the lifeboat embody qualities that represent their human opposite numbers. Orange Juice, the Pongo pygmaeus, is a motherly figure that represents Pi ‘s ain female parent. Pi remembers how the soft Pongo pygmaeus used to keep him when he was a male child, picking at his hair to hone her maternal accomplishments. When she defends herself against the hyaena, Pi realizes that she has reservoirs of bravery and ferocity. This surprisingly disclosure about her character analogues Pi ‘s daze in seeing his female parent stand up bravely to the cook.

The hyaena, with its ugly visual aspect and gross outing personal wonts, represents the cook, whose greed, savageness, and cannibalism grade him as a genuinely evil figure in the text. Finally, the Grant ‘s zebra is an alien animal, lovely to look at but foreign to Indian civilization. The two Mr. Kumars who join Pi at the menagerie have ne’er seen a zebra before and wonder at it. A zebra, hence, serves as an ideal substitute for the immature Chinese crewman who, although he does non talk Pi ‘s linguistic communication, exudes decency and natural beauty. It is peculiarly shocking for the cook/hyena to profane such an inexperienced person, arresting animal.


3. Discourse the importance of credibility in this novel.

Answer for Study Question 3 & gt ; & gt ;

Pi is a truster in the fullest sense of the word: he uses his rational mind to take him every bit far as he can travel and so he takes inventive springs. As Pi himself tells the two Nipponese functionaries who interview him in Mexico, many things are hard to believe, but we convince ourselves to make so however: “ Love is difficult to believe, inquire any lover. Life is difficult to believe, inquire any scientist. God is difficult to believe, inquire any truster. ” We give ourselves to these fictions, these discrepancies on world, because they give us a ground to maintain traveling. Where is the joy in a life deprived of love affair and passion? Where is the self-awareness in a life that is simply a biological accident? Where is the comfort in an being that has no rime or ground? A life that is wholly rational or fact based is about non deserving populating. To Pi, and to anyone who believes in things that he can non needfully see nor turn out, religion is a span between the coldness of fact and the heat of emotion. The ability to believe is a trademark of consciousness and consciousness, one ground faiths are so ferociously protected and so widely practiced. To believe in something makes us experience more alive, more connected to the universe around us, giving construction to our apprehension of the existence and our topographic point in it in a manner that pure scientific discipline, based entirely on observation, ne’er can.

Beyond helping as a foundational subject for the text, credibility is built-in to the really construction of the novel. Even as Pi asks us to believe his carnal narrative, Martel asks us to believe the narrative he tells, of run intoing Francis Adirubasamy and looking up Pi Patel in his Toronto phone book. We, the reader, know that these things did non truly go on to Martel, yet we suspend our incredulity so as to go more entirely absorbed in the text. Martel ‘s fictional narrative far rivals the truth, which is likely that he had an thought, did his research, and so worked really difficult for months and months to compose his novel. That the novel begins with a supposedly nonfictional Author ‘s Note and ends with the transcript of an interview and the text of an official study establishes the larger message that all storytellers-both Pi and Martel included-require the audience ‘s trust, or belief.


Suggested Essay Subjects

1. Religion is of extreme importance to Pi. Discuss the function of faith in his life and how it helps him last his ordeal.

2. Naming and names are important in this novel-Pi ‘s ain name is intricately explained, and Richard Parker gets his name through a clerical mistake. How is calling relevant to the novel ‘s chief subjects?

3. In visible radiation of the fact that this is a fresh about imaginativeness, why does Martel get down with the Author ‘s Note, which gives the feeling that Pi ‘s history is truth, non fiction?

4. One of the ways that Pi keeps himself sane and occupied while entirely in the center of the ocean is by composing in his diary. What does his journaling say about the human demand for communicating?

5. The two Nipponese functionaries who interview Pi do n’t believe that he truly landed on a man-eating island. When they say that carnivorous trees and fish-eating algae do non be, Pi responds, “ Merely because you ‘ve ne’er seen them. ” What does this exchange say about human apprehension of what is existent and possible?

6. Why does Pi give two histories of his ordeal? Which is the true narrative, and which one would you instead believe?

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