How does Pi's character development contribute to major themes in "Life of Pi"?Themes: survival, faith, storytelling, freedom, and science vs. religion.
It is through Pi's character development that Yann Martel grows and discusses each of these themes; he is the mode of communication through which the themes are shown. Pi, at the beginning of the novel, had no idea how to survive in the terms that he would eventually be able to. Throughout the novel, we see his character grow more hardened, efficient, and honed to the task of surviving. Before he was forced to survive on the raft with the tiger, he was a soft-hearted boy who loved intellectual pursuits and hated confrontations. As the novel progresses, his personality becomes more aggressive--he will confront challenges head-on instead of avoiding them, he will harden his heart against hard tasks and do them, and intellectual pursuits were abandoned in favor of daily, menial tasks.
His faith is also challenged; before his trials, he was filled with what he felt was faith, and it wasn't until he was tossed all alone into the ocean that he had to put his faith to the test. Stories always appealed to Pi, which was why he loved all different religions; however, as the novel progresses, stories become less of a passing fancy and hobby, and more of a survival necessity. The story becomes his coping mechanism, and we see his faith in stories solidify from being a nice thing to think about, to his realization that they are actually crucial to survival.
Those are just a few of the themes that are shown through Pi's character as it develops and changes throughout the novel. I hope that they helped to get you started; good luck!