When Pi begins being teased about his full name, Piscine, and mockingly nicknamed "Pissing Patel," he decides to take matters into his own hands. When he begins as a student at a new school, he claims a new identity for himself:
I got up from my desk and hurried to the blackboard. Before the teacher could say a word, I picked up a piece of chalk and said as I wrote: My name is Piscine Molitor Patel, known to all as—I double underlined the first two letters of my given name—Pi Patel. For good measure I added Pi =3.14 and I drew a large circle, which I then sliced in two with a diameter, to evoke that basic lesson of geometry.
With his new name established, Pi thinks, "I was saved. I could breathe. A new beginning . . . [S]o, in that Greek letter that looks like a shack with a corrugated tin roof, in that elusive, irrational number with which scientists try to understand the universe, I found refuge."
The number "pi" represents the ratio of...
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