Storytelling, Religion & Survival

How are the following topics explored throughout Life Of Pi?


At the end of the novel Pi has an interview with the two reporters, Mr. Okamoto and Mr. Chiba; I believe that the most important storytelling happens here. As Pi goes on and tells them the story of him surviving on the lifeboat with a tiger, orangutan, hyena and zebra they tell him they don’t believe a word Pi says. They say there is no chance that this could ever happen and the reporters think Pi made it up. Pi responds by saying “Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe.” (page 330) I believe since Pi is the only survivor he can tell the story the way he wishes to. He can tell them exactly the way he experienced it, truth or not. The reason why he tells the story with animals is because that is what he can connect to best. He grew up in a zoo and has spent his whole life around animals, it’s the way of living he knows best. I don’t believe it was a matter of having an interesting story, I think it was a matter of having the feeling of being safe, being at home, continuing life in a normal environment or as close as he could get. That is where inventing or imagining of all the animals comes in, home was the zoo with all the animals, his comfort zone. I believe that this repetitive storytelling throughout the novel and the journal keeping is what kept Pi going, it’s what allowed him to survive.


Both Pi's dependence on religion and his affection for storytelling help him to survive because they provide an element of escapism for him. Also, him being able to pretend that the whole experience was one long story in his mind helped a great deal. Pi used it as a way of escaping the horrible reality and think of it as a story. It allowed him to cope with all the emotions and the move on. In a way Pi using religion was very similar to why he used storytelling. Pi’s religions were helpful in a way that it gave him something he could hold onto during the hard times while he was out there on the sea.

Pi's injunction that "we must give things a meaningful shape" connects two of the novel's prominent themes, storytelling and belief in God. He believes that the act of storytelling, of giving things shape, can apply in life too, and thus one can shape one's own story in the most beautiful way by believing in God. (Chapter 94, page 285)

Pi relying on these three religions prepared him well for the love of stories and to use them to make sense of the situation he found himself in. In a way believing in something also added meaning to his life out there on the lifeboat because all the religions he believed in provided an explanation regarding his family’s death, where they might be and why he was out there.


When we get to part two of the book surviving is a big theme and also Pi’s number one goal. After surviving the sinking of the ship there are a lot more challenges waiting for him for the next couple of months he spends on the lifeboat by himself and the imaginary animals. He has to hunt and scavenge for food, purify his own water, try and not die from exposure, try to not go insane.

"This was the terrible cost of Richard Parker. He gave me a life, my own, but at the expense of taking one. He ripped the flesh off the man's frame and cracked his bones. The smell of blood filled my nose. Something in me died then that has never come back to life." (Chapter 90, page 255)

In this passage we find Pi in one of his darkest moments. This moments seems to show the absence of the belief, of God. This passage also shows that his life is threatened, this passage is more understandable in the second passage because it is he who kills the Frenchman and the guilt Pi is feeling is a lot more visible. Here the tiger, Richard Parker, is displayed as a symbol of survival. In this moment morals are forgotten in order to stay alive and it shows the measures that have to be taken to be able to stay alive. Someone else’s life has to be taken in order for Pi to survive.