Life of Pi is the story of Piscine Molitor Patel, also known as Pi, who at the age of sixteen survived for 227 days on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean. Pi’s story begins with an account of his childhood in Pondicherry India where his father is the head of the Pondicherry Zoo. Pi is a deeply spiritual person who, after learning the teachings of Hinduism Islam and Catholicism, creates his own spiritual practice from all three traditions. Pi is equally enthralled with science, influenced not only by his agnostic father but also by his biology teacher, a confirmed atheist. While Pi’s scientific and religious influences exclude one other and even while the different religions he embraces are also mutually exclusive, Pi himself is able to integrate these seemingly disparate systems of thought into his daily life.
In 1977, Pi’s family departs Pondicherry for Toronto to avoid the brewing civil unrest in India, taking many of the zoo animals with them aboard the Tsintsum, a Japanese cargo ship. The ship inexplicably sinks, and Pi finds himself alone in the Pacific Ocean in a 26-foot lifeboat with a crippled zebra, an orangutan, a hyena, and a male Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. No one else survives. Before the first week is up, the hyena has killed the zebra and the orangutan, and the tiger has killed the hyena. Pi is left alone on the raft with the potentially man-eating tiger.
After overcoming his initial shock, Pi uses the boat’s survival gear to preserve his life from both the elements and the tiger. He overcomes his lifelong vegetarianism to be able to kill fish and sea turtles barehanded, though he finds the ease with which killing comes to him disturbing. Pi spends his days fishing for food for Richard Parker—in an effort to preserve his own life from the tiger—and tending the freshwater stills. Pi and the tiger face rainstorms, sharks, the scorching sun, and starvation. They also encounter whales, dolphins,...
(The entire section is 638 words.)