Pi notes, “The Greater Good and the Greater Profit are not compatible aims, much to Father's chagrin” (78). What is the significance of this observation in the context of the Pondicherry Zoo and in the context of modern society?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Pi's father owns and runs the Pondicherry zoo, but when there is a political transition in the mid-1970s, the nation's economy suffers and he has to sell out. Pi says that small businesses are the ones that risk the shirts on their backs. That is to say that since small businesses are run by one or a few families, people's own finances can get hurt more easily. Unfortunately, they don't have multiple resources to keep going if people stop showing up. Father also says the following to describe their situation:

". . . the Greater Good and the Greater Profit are not compatible aims" (78).

This means that a zoo—which provides services that positively influence the community's education and culture—usually doesn't make the most money for profit. He also mentions that public libraries and museums can be placed in the same category as zoos because the benefits from these businesses provide enrichment for the greater good, but they aren't necessarily good for the private owner's pocket.

In 2008, the United States suffered a decline in the economy because of a recession. Created mostly from the housing market crash, the recession forced many to lose their jobs and homes. When economic recessions or depressions afflict a nation, the small business owners and average laborers tend to feel the pinch in their pocketbooks the most. This is what happened to Pi's father. The nation suffered an economic hardship and he was forced to sell. Not only that, he decided to move to Canada in search of better financial opportunities.

For further examples of how economic decline affects service-oriented jobs, educational services and government services, look up the Great Depression that started in October of 1929, and/or government shutdowns, and the influence of national debts as seen on the news recently. When a nation falls financially, the little man seems to fall first, faster, and harder.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team