Pi used his religious influences to get by; first, by relying on faith but more practically in using the creation of stories and ritual to give meaning to his daily tasks. The creation of an alternative story also allowed Pi to deal with the horror of what happened: not as a distraction, but to give it extra meaning. He put this philosophy to use in his daily tasks, part of which was praying. Not only did he create a alternative narrative about everything that happen, but he performed these daily tasks as if they were religious rituals which gave them more meaning. The function of ritual is to perform functions for their symbolic value. For Pi, these functions then had practical (survival) and symbolic (religious) value. In the end, Pi used practical (zoology) and spiritual (religious) knowledge and practices to survive. Pi uses science and religion.
He sums up his use of story-telling and religion at the end of Chapter 99.
So tell me, since it makes no factual difference to you and you can’t prove the question either way, which do you prefer? Which is the better story, the one with the animals or the one without animals?
This story is reminiscent of the film Life is Beautiful where father and son are in a concentration camp and the father pretends it is one big game so the son can deal with it.