The quotation "When you've suffered a great deal in life, each additional pain is both unbearable and trifling" appears at the beginning of Life of Pi. In making this remark, Pi is revealing that has overcome many adversities already, including being bullied as a child due to his name, "Piscine." However, greater suffering is yet to come for Pi, and so the quote can be read as a foreshadowing of the tragic events of the novel and Pi's survival.
Pi loses his family when the Japanese Freighter they are on sinks. Pi survives for almost a year at sea on a small boat. As well as suffering from exposure and temporary blindness, Pi witnesses violence between the animals on board his small boat. Pi also experiences grief upon the sudden departure of Richard Parker, a Bengal tiger who became his companion whilst lost at sea. The tiger suddenly leaves Pi and disappears into the jungle when their boat washes up on the shore of Mexico. Pi, who has lost everyone, is hurt by this departure.
When Pi is questioned by the authorities, they don't believe his story of being cast out to sea with several wild animals, so Pi retells his story, replacing the animals with two crew members and his mother. The reader may question what they now believe happened to Pi. Either way, it is clear that Pi has suffered a great deal and is now alone.
In depicting these events, Martel shows the reader that Pi suffers great hardship, and yet he perseveres, each time overcoming the tragedies, and becoming stronger. The challenges he faces are described paradoxically, as they are both "trifles"—in that he learns to cope with adversity—and are also "unbearable" when Pi considers all he has lost. In Life of Pi, Martel shows that pain and suffering are commonplace in life; though they are difficult to bear, faith and time can help.