Character Biography Life of Pi    View Details    Create a Copy

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

“The Life of Pi” is a novel centering on Pi Patel, an Indian stranded at sea with an odd friend, a wild tiger. In a small excerpt at the beginning of the novel it is stated by the fictitious author, that he wrote this story after encountering a man who told him that he had a story so fantastic it would "give him faith in God."

The first part of the novel is narrated by Pi himself, he is older, omniscient, and looking back at his life. The reader is given background information on Pi, is an avid swimmer, and we learn that he takes two things in life more seriously than anything else: religion and zoology. At one point in his life his father ran the local zoo and taught him and his brother about the dangers of wild animals. Then on June 21, 1977 the family left India for good and set sail to Canada in a cargo ship, filled with crew and caged zoo animals.

In part two of the book, the ship is sinking and Pi clings to a lifeboat and he encourages a tiger to join him in his raft. After the craziness of the shipwreck calms Pi is left alone with various animals he has saved: a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena. It is not long before the hyena kills the zebra and the orangutan, then just as it seems he is about to kill Pi the tiger emerges from the bottom of the lifeboat and saves Pi’s life. Together, this unlikely pair survives on rations out at sea.

The two faced many tribulations together; another shipwrecked crew member in a separate raft tries to eat Pi, they land on an island that eats people, and eventually they are forced back out to sea, before landing in Mexico.

In the end, he is taken to the hospital and Japanese officials came to question him. When Pi first tells his story they did not believe him. Then he tells the officials the same story again but the second time he changes the animals into various humans: a cook instead of a hyena, a sailor instead of a zebra, and so forth. Figuring the second story is more likely the officials accept that as the truth, while Pi reverts back to believing the first story.

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