What is a significant quote from Part One of Life of Pi? How does it relate to the real world, and what's the story behind it?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chapter 8 in Martel's Life of Pi has two critical sentences that are meaningful to the real world as well as to the story. The first sentence in the chapter is as follows:

"We commonly say in the trade that the most dangerous animal in a zoo is Man" (29).

This quote is significant because not only are humans able to reason but they also have the ability to cause the most harm and chaos in the world. Pi mentions that Man is dangerous before describing all of the careless things humans do to animals at zoos. For example, humans disregard signs not to feed the animals. They also feed non-organic things to the animals that can hurt and even kill. Furthermore, humans are unpredictable; they can lie, cheat, steal, and still disguise themselves as friends. Pi and his mother face the unpredictability of the cook on the lifeboat, for instance. They discover that the cook is willing to hurt other people in an effort to save himself. He is a very dangerous man who eventually kills Pi's mother. The lesson from this quote is to be cautious of other people when finding oneself in a survival situation. If we remember that humans don't always follow the laws of nature, then we can protect ourselves from their trickery.

The second significant quote is the following:

"There are animals we haven't stopped by. Don't think they're harmless. Life will defend itself no matter how small it is. Every animal is ferocious and dangerous" (38).

Pi's father says this when he teaches him about the nature of Richard Parker and other animals in the zoo. The fact that life will always defend itself is a predictable law of nature. As a result, Pi applies this understanding when he is on the lifeboat to help him to survive nearly a year at sea with a tiger. More specifically, it helps him to train the tiger. However, understanding that survival is important to every creature can also help in daily life. We should never take life for granted because it matters to everyone who has it. If a person's life is threatened, then we can rest assured that the individual will defend himself or herself.