In "Life of Pi" why does Pi describe the sloth as a "beautiful example of the miracle of life?"

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Pi describes the sloth as a beautiful example of the miracle of life because of the animal’s nature and characteristics. Pi got a chance to study the sloth in its natural habitat in the equatorial jungles of Brazil for his zoology thesis. He was very interested in the extremely lazy nature of the sloth, noting that the animal slept for an average of twenty hours each day. However, despite its slow nature and the weaknesses of its senses, the sloth manages to survive in a jungle full of predators. Pi notes that the sloth’s lazy nature keeps it from harm since predators don’t notice its presence. The animal is also slow enough to have algae growing on its fur, which provides the best cover. Thus, the sloth gets an opportunity to blend adequately with its environment. The animal reflects Pi’s own survival based on faith and his ability to blend in with his environment. According to Pi, the ability to survive despite being completely vulnerable to the environment is a miracle of life.

How does it survive, you might ask.

Precisely by being so slow. Sleepiness and slothfulness keep it out of harm's way, away from the notice of jaguars, ocelots, harpy eagles and anacondas. A sloth's hairs shelter an alga that is brown during the dry season and green during the wet season, so the animal blends in with the surrounding moss and foliage and looks like a nest of white ants or of squirrels, or like nothing at all but part of a tree.

The three-toed sloth lives a peaceful, vegetarian life in perfect harmony with its environment.

mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the section where Pi is talking about sloths, he praises them for many of their qualities, all of them reminding him of God, and the miracle of existence.  He first describes their demeanors as "calm, quiet, and introspective," and goes on to say that that type of personality "did something to soothe my shattered self."  He said that they reminded him of

"upside-down yogis deep in meditation or hermits deep in prayer, wise beings"

who lived  "peaceful" and "in perfect harmony" lives.  So, in that sense, their serenity, their contentment, and calm demeanors reminded him of wisdom and God.  But also, considering how slow the sloth is, and how dulled their senses, it is a miracle that they survived at all.  Because they did survive though-despite being completely helpless against predators and threats-was a miracle in and of itself.  Life is full of miracles, and the sloth's existence is proof of that, that it could survive despite its vulnerability.

I hope that helps a bit!