Why is religion important to Pi and how does it help him survive?

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In Yann Martel's novel The Life of Pi the title character explains his feelings about religion in chapter seven. In this chapter, Pi describes an interaction with one of his teachers, Mr. Satish Kumar, who was an atheist. He used to visit Pi's father's zoo. Mr. Kumar tells Pi that the zoo is something like a temple for him. Pi responds with the words, "Religion will save us." Pi, who is narrating most of the story, goes on to say that religion had always been close to his heart. He is also a young person who loves learning and reveres authority. When Mr. Kumar says that religion is darkness, Pi feels like his world is being rocked. He admires and respects Mr. Kumar, but he learns that Mr. Kumar doesn't acknowledge something that is very dear to his own heart. When Mr. Kumar reveals that he was sick with polio as a child and cried out "Where is God?" Pi fears that Mr. Kumar's atheism is something that will destroy something that Pi loved, much like polio destroyed Mr. Kumar's health....

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