Life of Pi

by Yann Martel

Context:

Modern Context

Religion plays a huge part of Martel's novel. Pi struggles choosing one religion that represents his beliefs and ends up subscribing to three different beliefs, Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. Religion is a daily part of life all around the world and is the cause of many wars, protests, and political turmoil. Martel uses Pi as a method to reach a global audience and show the important of a spiritual connection, even if it isn't set in stone. Pi wrestles with ideas of faith and purpose throughout the story and attempts to show that the true meaning of life and faith can be found during your toughest times.

Significance to Your Peers

Pi Patel is alone on a life boat with a tiger for 277 days before finally landing in Mexico. Many teenagers can relate to the feelings of Pi in regards to feeling alone and stranded during their adolescent years– while Pi is literally lost at sea, high schoolers figuratively feel the same. There are several times throughout Pi's voyage where he has to overcome fears and struggles – being picked on for his name and religious beliefs, losing his family, living with cannibalistic animals, and being stuck with a dangerous beast. In the first part of the novel, Pi and the tiger live together on edge before Pi understands that the tiger has no desire to hurt him. Pi overcomes his fears of living with an animal and surviving on limited food and resources, which is something any high schooler can learn from.

Literary Value

Life of Pi can fit into many different categories of text– it is characteristic of a bildungsroman novel, but also incorporates elements of realistic fiction, fantasy, nonfiction, and is structured like a memoir. Martel's novel uses a strong biblical base and relies heavily on the idea of water. Piscine, Pi's birth name, translates to the french name for pool. Richard Parker, the bengal tiger that accompanies Pi on his voyage, was actually named Thirsty before a clerk mixed up the names. The majority of the story takes place on the Pacific Ocean which is essential to the importance of water throughout the story. Water also commonly represents baptism which is seen in Life of Pi. Pi enters the water as a careless boy and emerges the water as a changed man. While in the water he learns to cope with fears, overcome obstacles, and tame an animal that many consider a beast.

Review of "Life of Pi"

In Life of Pi, Yann Martel effectively portrays the will to live through his main character, Pi Patel. Pi has an undying determination to survive his 277-day voyage through the Pacific Ocean. Martel tells the audience about Pi’s background, and he begins his novel with a flashback to Pi’s boyhood. Martel relays Pi’s views on life through his explanation of Pi’s family life and his interests in religion and zoology. Pi has a great interest in animals since he was raised on a zoo and developed an open mind which helps him on his journey in the ocean.


During part two, Martel introduces Richard Parker, the one and only Bengal tiger confined to the lifeboat with Pi. The audience doesn't have a lot of information about Richard Parker. As Part Three begins, we see that something has changed as Martel uses Richard Parker to mimic some of Pi’s moods and thoughts. Richard Parker is not only a tiger anymore, but something much more significant; Richard Parker is the sole reason Pi was able to survive these past 277 days on the Pacific Ocean.


Martel’s novel, Life of Pi starts off in Pondicherry, India- his family’s hometown with Pi set as a young and innocent boy. While he may have started off as a young boy who grew up on a zoo, the ocean and the hardships presented have turned Pi into a courageous, determined man. This harsh setting sets Pi up to fail, but somehow through his undying will to live, he pushed through and grows into a better, and stronger individual.

60 Second Recap

Life of Pi 60 second recap

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