Aside from family and possessions, what else did Pi lose and gain when the Tsimtsum sank?

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Along with his family and possessions, Pi also loses his way of life, and his "normal" teenage problems are replaced with problems of life or death. Pi becomes completely isolated from the outside world, and he loses his connection to other human beings, his original sense of self, his connection to God and religion, and his certainty about the world. Instead, he gains a new sense of self and understanding of adversity through his adventure. 

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When the Tsimtsum--the Japanese freighter that was intended to transport the Patels' animals to their new zoo in North America--sinks in the horrific storm, Pi Patel must cope with more than the loss of his loved ones and worldly possessions.

Pi is suddenly tossed into a state of complete isolation from the human world. Thrust out into the clutches of nature, Pi loses his original sense of self, his connection to other human beings and to his home (both his past home in India and the one meant to be his future home in Canada), his casual understanding of God and religion, and his sense of uncertainty about the world.

However, Pi also gains a new sense of self, an understanding of adversity and the tools to overcome it, a spiritual connection to the interdependence of all life forms, a reverence for the natural world, and many important personal qualities (resilience, ingenuity, patience, etc.).

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Quite simply, Pi also loses his way of life. Before the sinking of the Tsimtsum, Pi is struggling with typical coming-of-age ideas, especially religion. He is misunderstood by his family, but is handling life just fine. When his father decides to move the family business (the zoo) out of the area, this is when Pi's life changes. The Tsimtsum sinks, and Pi is forced to move from a life where he struggles with "normal" problems to the problem of survival.

Piscine Molitor Patel (who creates the nickname of "Pi" in order to prevent being called "pissing" and in order to exhibit his smarts) switches from the normal life of a young man into a teen fighting for survival on the ocean when the Tsimtsum sinks. Most of this survival (after the other animals are killed in different ways) involves his dealings with Richard Parker, the over four hundred pound Bengal tiger that is also adrift on the small dingy. Why does Pi befriend the tiger? Mostly to combat fear:

I must say a word about fear. It is life's only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy.

One of the ways Pi defeats fear is by vowing to keep Richard Parker alive. The two create a bond between a thinking, living being and an animal that runs on instinct. It is when his small dingy lands that Pi loses something else: Richard Parker. And Pi loses him FOREVER. It is a heartbreaking scene, but one where Pi learns a lot:

Dare I say I miss him? I do. I miss him. I still see him in my dreams. They are nightmares mostly, but nightmares tinged with love.  I still cannot understand how he could abandon me so unceremoniously, without any sort of goodbye, without looking back even once. That pain is like an axe that chops at my heart.

In conclusion, it's important to note that this is a coming-of-age story, or a bildungsroman, because Pi grows up in the process.

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He lost many things, but some of the most important were not physical. He lost his sense of self, and his sense that the world was a safe and knowable place. He lost his context. He lost his easy religious affiliations. He lost physical comfort.

He eventually gained, though, some important things as well. He learned to care for himself, and he learned to apply lessons that had been abstract. He gained a much more profound religious sense…eventually, after being greatly tested.

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Besides the loss of his family possessions, what else did Pi lose When the Tsimtsum sank in Life of Pi? What did he gain?

When the Japanese cargo ship Tsimtsum sank, Pi Patel lost much, but he gained a little, too. Besides his family's possessions, including most of the zoo animals they were transporting to Canada, Pi lost his mother, his father, and his older brother, Ravi. This was certainly the most grievous loss that he experienced. In addition, he lost the unvarnished optimism of youth. At only sixteen years of age, Pi had known difficulties in life—including the teasing he endured at school because of his name and the sorrow of having to leave his friends when his family decided to move to Canada—but he had never known tragedy. Once a person has lived through a great loss, their innocent joie de vivre dissipates. He lost his future as it had been envisioned by him and his parents. One might even say he lost his boyhood since his experience required him to grow up fast.

Alone at sea, adrift on a lifeboat with a 450-pound Bengal tiger, what could he have to gain? The fascinating part of the book is that it shows that Pi did benefit from the sinking of the ship despite his massive losses. He gained resilience as he sprang back again and again from life-threatening peril and emotional despair. He gained self-confidence as he learned to rise to an overwhelming challenge and even become master—to some degree—of a ferocious, carnivorous beast. He gained greater faith in God as he put his trust in the Creator during his long, lonely voyage. He gained a new identity since no one could endure such an ordeal without changing radically because of it. And he gained an incredible story to tell—two of them, in fact—in case people chose to disbelieve one or the other.

Pi's physical and emotional losses from the shipwreck were severe, but he achieved some intangible gains in their stead.

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