How does the growing friendship with Mr. Patel impact the fictional author in Life of Pi?

Quick answer:

The fictional author’s friendship with Mr. Patel inspires him to write, but it also makes him upset with the mundane nature of his own life.

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Yann Martel’s book Life of Pi is unique because it begins with a note by a fictional Canadian author. The author explains how he published two unsuccessful books and then went to Bombay, India to try to find the inspiration and focus to write more. His next book, a story about Portugal, does not come to fruition though, and he feels at a loss for what to do next. He then travels to Pondicherry, a town in Southern India, where he meets an interesting old man at a coffee shop. The man says to him:

I have a story that will make you believe in God.

The author is skeptical, but the man has piqued his interest. After hearing the man’s story, he goes back to Canada to meet Mr. Patel, the main character in the old man’s story. They meet several times and establish a growing friendship. Mr. Patel shows him his diary entries and newspaper clippings that made him famous and tells the author the story from his point of view. During this time, the author becomes fascinated with Mr. Patel’s life and learns a great deal from him. He says that once he heard from Patel, he agreed that “this was, indeed, a story to make you believe in God.” In his acknowledgment section, he also writes:

I am most obviously indebted to Mr. Patel. My gratitude to him is as boundless as the Pacific Ocean.

Mr. Patel’s story gave the author the inspiration he needed to write again. But it also made him reconsider his own life and the way he viewed the world. Recall how in chapter 21 the author is sitting in a café and thinking after talking to Mr. Patel. He says that:

Our encounters always leave me weary of the glum contentment that characterizes my life.

While Mr. Patel’s story inspired the author, this quote also shows that his friendship with Mr. Patel makes him increasingly dissatisfied with his own mundane life.

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