Life of Pi Characters
The main characters in Life of Pi are Pi Patel, Santoshi Patel, Gita Patel, Richard Parker, and Tomohiro Okamoto.
Piscine “Pi” Patel is a teenager who loses his family after a shipwreck. He is fascinated by religions.
Santosh Patel is Pi’s father, who seeks a better life for his family in Canada. Mr. Patel is killed when the ship sinks.
Gita Patel is Pi’s mother. She is killed when the ship sinks.
Richard Parker is the Bengal tiger who shares the lifeboat with Pi. He is both a friend and a menace.
Tomohiro Okamoto is one of the Japanese government officials who investigates Pi’s story.
Last Updated on May 16, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 833
The Author’s Persona
Early and late in the novel, the author projects himself into the novel, speaking of “I” and how the novel came to be. The author shares little about himself, only that he is a writer from Canada with two books published prior to Life of Pi. These details are true of Yann Martel, but in a book that accents the constructed nature of stories so heavily, readers cannot assume they are completely one and the same.
Pi, born Piscine Molitor Patel, is the central character in the novel and at times the only human character. Born and raised in India, Pi received his given name as homage to a family friend, Francis Adirubasamy, a great swimmer who spoke highly of the Piscine Molitor pool in Paris. Pi renamed himself to escape ongoing jokes about his name.
Pi is raised on the premises of his father’s zoo in Pondicherry, India, until his father decided to move the entire family to Canada. Pi’s life is defined by two factors, one internal and one external. The internal factor is his lifelong interest in and dedication to religion. Pi studies all religions for the sheer joy of it. The external factor is the shipwreck that kills his family and strands Pi in a lifeboat with only a few animals for company. Pi is an intelligent and likable sixteen-year-old when he loses his family and passes into this ordeal.
Mr. Santosh Patel
Pi’s father, Mr. Santosh Patel, is called simply “Father” throughout most of the novel. Readers catch a glimpse of Santosh’s character in his attempt to teach his sons caution by letting them see a tiger kill a goat and in his decision to change countries in search of a better life. A modern and pragmatic man who had run a hotel before opening a zoo, Mr. Patel is killed when the Tsimtsum sinks.
Mrs. Gita Patel
Pi’s mother, Mrs. Gita Patel, is called simply “Mother” throughout most of the novel. She is a quiet woman who likes to read, and the biggest glimpses of her character come when she and her husband must face Pi’s religious practice and in chapter 35 when she says good-bye to India. Mrs. Patel is killed when the Tsimtsum sinks.
Ravi is Pi’s older brother. A devoted athlete, Ravi is killed when the Tsimtsum sinks.
Meena Patel, Pi’s wife, is a pharmacist. The author hears a slight Canadian accent when he meets her in Toronto and deduces that she is a second-generation Indian immigrant.
Pi’s daughter, Usha, is four years old when the author meets her in Toronto.
Pi’s son, Nikhil (Nick), is a teenager when the author meets him in Toronto.
Tata is Pi’s little brown dog, whom the author meets in Toronto.
Moccasin is Pi’s orange cat, whom the author meets in Toronto.
Francis Adirubasamy, also called Mamaji (uncle), is a close friend, first of Mr. Patel, then of the entire family. A devoted swimmer, he passes this love on to Pi, who is named for Adirubasamy’s favorite pool.
Mr. Satish Kumar
A teacher, this Mr. Kumar teaches Pi biology. He is a bald man with a large stomach and thin legs who visits Pi at the zoo once. An atheist and communist, this Mr. Kumar considers religion darkness and superstition.
Mr. Satish Kumar
A baker, this Mr. Kumar teaches Pi about Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam.
Father Martin is the priest who introduces Pi to Catholicism when Pi is young.
Richard Parker is...
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a 450-pound Bengal tiger who is trapped on the lifeboat when theTsimtsum sinks. Richard Parker received his name through a clerical error; this was the name of the hunter who captured the tiger and his mother.
The zebra is one of Pi’s companions on the lifeboat after the Tsimtsum sinks (until the hyena kills it).
The hyena is one of Pi’s companions on the lifeboat after the Tsimtsum sinks (until the tiger kills it).
A female orangutan, Orange Juice is one of Pi’s companions on the lifeboat after the Tsimtsum sinks (until the hyena kills her).
Another Lost Human
Perhaps the ship’s cook, this character, whom Pi refers to as “my brother,” appears only in chapter 90. He is about to kill Pi when Richard Parker kills him.
The meerkats, collectively, are the only animal inhabitants of the island of carnivorous trees.
Mr. Tomohiro Okamoto
Mr. Okamoto is the representative of the Japanese Ministry of Transport’s Maritime Department assigned to investigate the sinking of the Tsimtsum. He challenges Pi’s story at first as unbelievable, but his final report supports Pi’s claims.
Mr. Atsuro Chiba
Mr. Chiba is Mr. Okamoto’s assistant in the Japanese Ministry of Transport’s Maritime Department investigation of the sinking of the Tsimtsum.