Life of Pi Questions and Answers
by Yann Martel

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What happened to Pi’s family after the storm?

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Amy Evans eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Pi's mother and father both die in the sinking of the Tsimtsum, the Japanese freighter vessel meant to transport the animals to North America. It is important to note that Pi's mother is part of the alternative ending that he tells officials from the Japanese Ministry of Transport conducting an investigation into the shipwreck. Pi recounts the story of surviving on the lifeboat with the animals, but the officials tell him it is not believable, and they cannot use the information in their investigation. Pi offers them a different story, in which the hyena represents the cook, the zebra is a sailor, Pi is the tiger, and his mother is the orangutan. In this version of the story, the cook killed and ate the sailor and Pi's mother. Pi tells the officials that regardless of which version they believe, neither story provides insight into why the ship sank. This alternative ending leaves readers wondering which story is true, as we know Pi experienced hallucinations while at sea. In the end it comes down to faith, tying in a prominent religious theme in his journey, as Pi struggles to understand the circumstances God placed him in.

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Pi and his family, along with a large menagerie from the family zoo, are aboard the good ship Tsimtsum bound for Canada. Initially, all seems plain sailing, both literally and figuratively. But things take a turn for the worse, when four days out into the Pacific Ocean, the ship is lashed by a violent, terrifying storm. Some crew members throw Pi into a lifeboat, not however because they want to save him, but because they want to use him as food for the wild animals now falling into the water. Thankfully, Pi survives his ordeal, despite a zebra jumping into the lifeboat, which causes it to drop into the raging sea. But his parents are not so lucky. Santosh and Gina Patel go down with the ship, making Pi an orphan.

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