Life of Pi

By Yann Martel

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Created by: Mikayla, Joshua, Ti-ana, Arjun & Reba

For: Ms.DiCostanzo - ENG 3UP

Vocabulary Ch (1-8)

  • Raiment (pg 16): (n) clothing
  • Calisthenic (pg 17): (n) gymnastic exercises to achieve bodily fitness and grace of movement
  • Mnemonic (pg 24): (n) a device such as a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations that assists in remembering something. (adj) aiding or designed to aid the memory.
  • Emblazoned (pg 25): (v) to conspicuously inscribe or display (a design) on something.
  • Animalus Anthropomorphicus” (pg 34): “The animal as seen through human eyes.”

How would Pi describe his identity? What makes up his identity? Is it possible to change your identity? (Is Pi successful in doing this?) (Chapters 1-8)

I think Pi would describe his identity as a young Indian boy, from a middle-class, and well respected family. These are the external forces that are obvious to anyone who sees it. However, I think Pi would describe himself as a open-minded boy who is just trying to create a name for himself. We see this on the first day of secondary school Pi is insistent on his peers calling him "Pi", instead of his degrading nickname, "Pissing". Throughout the day, as the teachers would go through role call, as his turn came he would get up from his seat and write out his full name with his desired nickname, adding the irrational number for a lasting effect. He does this in every single one of his classes, and eventually the name stuck with him. He later revealed that repetition was key in training to do what you wanted them to do, humans and animals alike.

Questions (Chapters 1-8)

  • Evaluate: Summarize Pi’s justification for zoos. (page 44)
  • Synthesis: Explain what triggers an animal’s flight reaction.
  • Analysis: Read chapter 13 and explain dominance rituals performed by circus trainers and list 5 advantages and disadvantages.
  • Application: Illustrate the process of dominance rituals and how a circus establishes himself as the alpha-male.
  • Comprehension: Explain why a circus trainer must always enter into the lion ring in full sight of the lion.
  • Knowledge: List the 2 new religions Pi discovers and explain his reasons for becoming a practitioner of those religions

Why the italics?

Why are some of the text in italics?

· The parts of the story that are in italics, are not part of the retelling of Pi’s story, and is being said in the present day, rather than in a flashback. These parts are told by the author.

What is the effect of the above on you as a reader?

· This gives the reader relief from the plot of the story, and can help with the understanding of the emotions and events being told.

How a lion tamer get controls of the lions

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If you enter into a lion's den, the reason the lion will tear you to pieces is not because it's hungry or because it's bloodthirsty, but because you have invaded its territory. That is why a circus trainer must always enter the lion ring first, and in full sight of the lions. In doing so, he establishes that the ring is his territory, not theirs, a notion that he reinforces by shouting, by stomping about, by snapping his whip. The lions are impressed by this feat. They now realize that they are in the presence of a strongly dominant male, a super alpha male, and they must submit to his dominant biddings. So they open their jaws wide, sit up, walk backwards, and roll over. However, the trainer better make sure he always remains the super alpha, or else he will pay severely.

It is a question of brain over brawn. The nature of the circus trainer's strategy is more psychological rather than physical. Foreign surroundings, the trainer's posturing, calm demeanor, steady gaze, fearless step forward, and strange roar (ex. snapping of the whip, or blowing his whistle) are the triggers that will fill the animal's mind with doubt and fear, and make it clear to where it stands.


Write a journal about the idea of identity. What makes up a person’s identity? What internal and external forces make up who we are? Is it possible to change your identity? (Chapters 1-8)

Identity is more than just the information printed on a card. It is the representation of the person’s reflection of the environment and the society’s perception of an individual. Almost all the perceptions made by a person influence their identity. An individual’s identity can be measured through the experiences that a person undergoes and how they react to it. The environment measures the value of an individual’s identity. In the case of humans and most animals the environment sets alive a system of social status. Social status limits our actions and thereby influences our identity. An elimination of social status removes the need for outer appearance and this leads to them exposing their inner side. A best way to accomplish this task of removing social status is to make them feel equal and protected. Thus a social status system is created because of the fear of feeling unprotected.

It is not possible to change your identity although it is possible to hide it. People mask their identity all the time. Almost everyone in this society has two faces creating the question of which identity is real. Identity cannot be changed because a person’s identity is society’s perception of the individual. Society never forgets

Important Quote from the Chapter with a Human Connection (Chapters 1-8)

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“I know zoos are no longer in people’s good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both." (21)

Many people have said negative things about zoos— that they strip wild creatures of their freedom and trap them in domesticated lives—but Pi disagrees with this idea. Wild animals in their natural habitat encounter fighting, parasites, lack of food, and fear on a regular basis. Because of those factors, animals in the wild aren't free at all; they must follow or risk dying from a set of social and natural laws. Since animals are creatures of habit, enclosures like zoos are a heaven for them, with an abundance of food and water, clean cages, and a constant routine. Pi also goes on to say that most zoo animals don't try to escape, unless something frightens them. The idea of animal freedom as a metaphor for people’s religious desires. Just as people misunderstand the nature of animals in the wild, they also misunderstand what it means for a person to be “free” of any religious system of belief. The agnostic might think he has freedom to believe anything he wants, but in reality he doesn't allow himself to take leaps. Instead, he goes through life’s ups and downs the way an animal in the wild does, because he has to. A person of faith is like an animal in an enclosure, surrounded by a version of reality that is far kinder than reality itself.

Vocabulary (Chapters 9-22)

  • Disrepute (pg 44): (n) the state of being held in low esteem by the public.
  • Surmise (pg 45): (v) to suppose that something is true without having evidence to confirm it (n) a supposition that something may be true, even though there is no evidence.
  • Cantankerous (pg 49): (adj) bad-tempered, argumentative, and uncooperative.
  • Sultriness (pg 52) : (adj) very hot and humid; burning hot.
  • Tantamount (pg 59): (adj) equivalent in seriousness to; virtually the same as.
  • Muezzin (pg 65): (n) a man who calls Muslims to prayer for the Minaret of a mosque.
  • Incongruous (pg 66): (adj) not in harmony or keeping with the surroundings or other aspects of something.

How does Pi become interested in these religions? (Chapters 9-22)


Pi is born a Hindu, his first experience as a Hindu was when his Aunt Rohini, insisted that Pi's mother ,Gita, held a traditional Hindu naming ceremony for him. Pi grows up practicing Hindu traditions from a young age that influences his nurturing mind. He understands the way the universe works through Hindu eyes (the Hindu perspective through their tales and folklore).

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Pi becomes interested in Christianity when he is on vacation with his family in Munnar. Pi is intrigued by the plain looking features that the Catholic Church has, and he wants to go and see its interior for himself. His reasoning that even though he went to a Christian school, he had never step foot in a Christian church before. He then meets Father Martin, who influences him to adhere to Christianity. Pi comes to questions the story of Jesus that Father Martin tells him, his Hindu perspective clashes with the Christian ideology making him want to know more about it. He decides to follow Christianity, the second religion he is introduced too, in hopes of better understanding the story of Jesus and the ideology behind it. Pi becomes a Christian because of his good faith.

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Pi becomes interested in Islam when he was exploring his hometown. He came across the Jamia Masjid in the Muslim Quarter, not far from the zoo. There he meets a man named Mr. Kumar, who is a faithful Muslim and baker all in one. With Mr. Kumar's teaching Pi comes to learn that Islam is a beautiful religion of brotherhood and devotion. Mr. Kumar's influence, and the influence of his biology teacher Mr. Kumar, inspires Pi to study zoology and religious studies. They became the prophets of his Indian youth.
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Pi is a religious person, not an atheist or an agnostic, however he admires atheists. To him, the important thing is to believe in something, he appreciates an atheist's ability to believe in the absence of God with no concrete proof of that absence. Pi feels nothing but disdain for agnostics, who claim that it is impossible to know either way if God exists or doesn't, and who refrain from making a definitive statement on the question of God. Pi sees this as evidence of a shameful lack of imagination. To him, agnostics cannot make a leap of faith in either direction.

Questions (Chapters 9-22)

  • Evaluate: Evaluate the reasons why an animal would escape from a zoo. (pg. 44)
  • Synthesis: Explain what triggers animal flight reaction.
  • Analysis: Read chapter 13 and explain dominance rituals performed by circus trainers and list 5 advantages and disadvantages.
  • Application: Illustrate the process of dominance rituals and how a circus trainer establishes himself as the alpha male.
  • Comprehension: Explain why a circus trainer must always enter into the lion ring in the full sight of the lion.
  • Knowledge: List the two new religions Pi discovers and explain his reasons for becoming a practitioner of those religion.