In Martel's Life of Pi, what evidence shows how religion helps Pi survive his ordeal at sea?  

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Pi is a very spiritual and religious teenager. He converts to Hinduism, Islam and Christianity! It is no surprise, then, that he would turn to God during the biggest trial of his life. Pi is also very intellectual and reasonable; so, he draws upon everything in his life to help him to survive. In chapter 49, for example, he's been on the lifeboat for almost three days and he realizes how thirsty he is. He analyzes his situation based on what he remembers of Christ's crucifixion, as follows:

"Christ on the Cross died of suffocation, but His only complaint was of thirst. If thirst can be so taxing that even God Incarnate complains about it, imagine the effect on a regular human" (135).

Remembering this information helps him to assess his situation, which also motivates him to find water quickly, which saves his life by providing needed hydration.

In chapter 53, Pi believes that it is a miracle that he has survived so far. He takes his belief and applies it to his current information as follows:

"Now I will turn miracle into routine. The amazing will be seen every day. I will put in all the hard work necessary. Yes, so long as God is with me, I will not die. Amen" (148).

He combines his belief in miracles with a prayer that shows gratitude, humility, and faith that he is not alone. Not feeling alone is one critical factor that helps Pi continue fighting for survival. This is a far better way to approach his situation because he could sit down and cry or give up. 

Another example of when Pi uses prayer and faith to help him to survive is when he prays aloud, "God, give me the time" (150) to help him finish building a raft, thereby securing himself safety, before Richard Parker spots him. Fortunately, his prayer is granted and he is given enough time to finish the raft. Later, in chapter 63, during a long and lonely night at sea, Pi remembers the great Vishnu of Hinduism and then says a Muslim prayer to comfort him. These prayers help him to regain control of his psyche and faith to continue living. Also in chapter 63, Pi lists everything he does each day and prayers are on it five times, just as it directs in Islam.

Finally, in chapter 74, Pi goes into more detail about his faith in God and how it helps him through his ordeal at sea. He practices any ritual that he can think of from his three main religions, such as Mass, Communion, pujas, and devotions to Allah. He says that all of these things help to bring him comfort, but they also help him to let go of pain and to trust in and love God. In an effort not to lose his faith in and love for God, he also practices being grateful for everything that he has. For example, he would touch his pants, for example, and say, "This is God's attire!" Then he would point the boat and say, "This is God's ark!" These actions and words of affirmation hold his faith in God strong and then he would "go on loving" and surviving (209).