In "The Life of Pi," what is the significance of Pi's unusual name?

### 7 Answers | Add Yours

Pi's full name is Piscine Molitor Patel. He was named after a family friend, who loved to swim and whose favorite swimming pool was the Piscine Molitor in Paris. Instead of giving their son their friend's name, Pi's parents named him after the pool! Because he is constantly teased about his name ("Pissing Patel"), he decides to shorten it simply to Pi.

I'm not great at math, but I do know that pi is a mathematical figure that represents the number 3.14. According to Math Forum (linked below), it is an irrational number because it cannot be expressed as a fraction. It is also a constant: "Pi is always the same number, no matter which circle you use to compute it." It is also an ancient number, known to the Egyptians and the Babylonians.

In changing his name, Pi goes from being a joke to being a significant "number"--maybe a little irrational, but constant as well.

**Sources:**

Pi can be expressed as a fraction 22/7

Pi or π is one of the most important mathematical constants, approximately equal to 3.14159. It represents the ratio of any circle's circumference to its diameter in Euclidean geometry, which is the same as the ratio of a circle's area to the square of its radius. Many formulas from mathematics, science, and engineering involve π.

AND IT CANNOT BE REPRESENTED AS A FRACTION

22/7 is an approximation of Pi. Which goes on and on and on forever, meaning it is an irrational number. Come on! Think about it. If you have a number that goes on and on forever there is no way to get an exact fraction for it.

Pi "likes ending things", the number pi being a constant number is an allusion to a lack of a farewell/conclusion with Richard Parker.

Pi's full name is Piscine Molitor Patel. He was named after a family friend, who loved to swim and whose favorite swimming pool was the Piscine Molitor in Paris. Instead of giving their son their friend's name, Pi's parents named him after the pool! Because he is constantly teased about his name ("Pissing Patel"), he decides to shorten it simply to Pi.

### Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes