Life of Pi
Life of Pi is divided into four sections. In the first section the main character Pi Patel, an adult Canadian, reminisces about his childhood in India. His father owns a zoo in Pondicherry. The livelihood provides the family with a relatively affluent lifestyle and some understanding of animal psychology. Pi describes how he acquired his full name, Piscine Molitor Patel, as a tribute to the swimming pool in France. After hearing schoolmates tease him by transforming the first name into "Pissing", he establishes the short form of his name as "Pi" when he starts secondary school. The name, he says, pays tribute to theirrational number which is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. In describing his experiences Pi describes several other unusual situations involving proper names. Two visitors to the zoo, one a devout Muslim and one a committed atheist, bear identical names. A memorably ferocious tiger at the zoo bears the name Richard Parker as the result of a clerical error in which human and animal names were reversed. Pi is raised a Hindu who practices vegetarianism. As a fourteen-year-old he investigates Christianity and Islam and decides to become an adherent of all three religions, saying he "just wants to love God." He tries to understand God through the lens of each religion and comes to recognize benefits in each one. Shifting government policies lead to a decision by Pi's father to sell the zoo and emigrate with his wife and two sons to Canada. The second part of the novel begins with Pi's family aboard the Tsimtsum, theJapanese freighter that is transporting animals from their zoo to North America. A few days out of port from Manila, the ship encounters a storm and sinks. Pi manages to escape in a small lifeboat, only to learn that the...
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