Pondicherry is described as an anomaly, the former capital of what was once French India. In terms of storytelling, what makes this town a appropriate choice for Pi's upbringing in Life of Pi?

Quick Answer

Pondicherry is an appropriate place for Pi's upbringing because it is very diverse. In such a city, Pi is naturally exposed to a variety of cultures and worldviews. Given his acceptance of Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism and the importance of these religions within the novel, an upbringing within a cosmopolitan environment is essential. 


Expert Answers info

Dimitri Veum eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2019

write244 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

The family's circumstances in Pondicherry lead to Pi's parents' decision to leave India and emigrate to Canada. Without this motivation driving the story, the entire plot revolving around Pi's survival at sea would not have happened. In the 1970s, India's economy experienced a significant decline. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had declared a state of emergency which included curfews and censorship. Political, social, and economic conditions led thousands to protest India's government, and the everyday lives of its citizens were disrupted.

Pi's father concluded that the country's lack of stability threatened the future of the family's zoo. The Patels seek to move their business across the ocean, taking their most important animals with them. This is another crucial detail that is integral to the plot—had the family travelled without their animals, there would be no possibility of Pi surviving at sea with Richard Parker, or his experience with the other animals on the lifeboat. Had Pi had been on the lifeboat alone, this would have also changed the ending of the story and its interpretation. Pi tells the Japanese transit officials and the storyteller two versions of his story of how he survived, one with the animals and one without. Without the animals having been transported overseas, the explanation for the animal version of the story would certainly have been imaginary.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Domenick Franecki eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write4,282 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Pondicherry was the only French colony in India. During the 1930s, when Pi's mother was growing up, the French were trying to make the city as Gallic as the British were trying to make the rest of India Britannic according to Pi (p. 10). Like the city itself Pi is an anomaly. In school he stands out because of his name, Piscine, which he shortens to "Pi" after the other children...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 585 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Jonathan Beutlich eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2014

write5,854 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Science, and History

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial