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What's the name of the ship in Life of Pi?

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rudabbott | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 5, 2013 at 1:20 AM via web

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What's the name of the ship in Life of Pi?

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t-rashmi | College Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted September 5, 2013 at 4:10 AM (Answer #1)

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The Patel family are aboard Tsimtsum, a Japanese freighter or cargo ship. The ship contains also contains the animals that were in their zoo. The ship is going to North American country of Canada. The Patel family are forced out of India due to continuously shifting government policies. Thus Pi's father decides to sell the zoo and emigrate to Canada. But just after leaving the port of Manila, a storm wrecks the Tsimtsum and it sinks, but Pi manages to escape in a lifeboat which also houses a spotted hyena, and orangutan, a zebra and Richard Parker, a Bengal Tiger.  

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dftbap | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted September 5, 2013 at 2:22 PM (Answer #2)

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Quite simply, the name of the ship is the Tsimtsum

The Tsimtsum is a cargo ship based out of Japan.  The necessity of a frieghter is apparent because the Patel family own a zoo in India.  Their plan is to sell the expensive animals that they have aquired in order to pave their way in the New World.  Obviously, the animals will fetch a bigger price where they are going as opposed to India; therefore, their only choice is to transport the animals in conjunction with small cages and tranquilizers. 

The animals are even further confined on the Tsimtsum.  Some of Pi's earlier statements about animal confinement in zoos are bolstered during this part of the novel.  Further, zoos & animal behavior continually inspire Pi to think more critically about religion:

I have heard nearly as much nonsense about zoos as I have about God and religion.

Animals in the wild lead lives of compulsion and necessity within an unforgiving social hierarchy in an environment where the supply of fear is high and the supply of food low and where territory must constantly be defended and parasites forever endured.

I know zoos are no longer in people's good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both.

Interestingly enough, the importance of the Tsimtsum becomes apparent again at the end of Life of Pi.  Due to the extreme financial loss (as well as many deaths) associated with the sinking of teh Tsimtsum, two Japanese men are dispatched from the Japanese Maritime Department in order to investigate.  It is a very disappointing experience to see the Japanese men associated with the cargo ship bolster Pi in their English words, but mock him in thier Japanese words.  Their frustration, at least, leads Pi to the point of the book because it leads Pi to tell two different stories, asking the Japanese men to choose which one they prefer:  "And so it goes with God."

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laurto | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted January 5, 2014 at 8:55 PM (Answer #3)

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The name of the ship is Tsimtsum. It was a Japanese cargo ship. It was headed to Canada, where the Patel family was to move to. A storm hits the ship but Pi manages to escape on a lifeboat with a couple of animals, including Richard Parker, a tiger.

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Ada Sison | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted June 18, 2014 at 5:39 PM (Answer #4)

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The name of the Japanese cargo ship the Patel family and their animals board is called the Tsimtsum. 

In chapter 35, Pi describes the ship as he is about to board:

"...the Panamian-registered Japanese cargo ship Tsimtsum. Her officers were Japanese, her crew was Taiwanese, and she was large and impressive." 

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