Piscine Molitor Patel (Pi) -
The protagonist of the story. Piscine is the narrator for most of the novel, and his account of his seven months at sea forms the bulk of the story. Piscine’s nickname, Pi, has a symbolic relationship with the mathematical pi (π) . The ratio of the circumference (circular) of a circle to its diameter (linear) is pi. The correlation between the linear journey to North America and the cycles of doubt and faith are experienced by Pi. Mathematical relationships are calculated and explained logically and rationally by the irrational number pi. Unbelievable experiences and irrational events are explained logically and rationally by Pi. Neither Pi nor pi can be confined by logic or taken to a coherent ending point. Pi is sixteen when he is shipwrecked, and pi is the sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet. Pi even uses pi (π) to work out the circumference of the algae island. Richard Parker –
The Royal Bengal tiger with whom Pi shares his lifeboat.
He kills the hyena on the lifeboat and the blind cannibal. With Pi, however, Richard Parker acts as an omega, or submissive, animal, respecting Pi’s dominance. Francis Adirubasamy –
The elderly man who tells the author Pi’s story during a chance meeting in a Pondicherry coffee shop. He taught Pi to swim as a child and bestowed upon him his unusual moniker. He arranges for the author to meet Pi in person, so as to get a first-person account of his strange and compelling tale. Ravi –
Pi’s older brother. Ravi prefers sports to schoolwork and is quite popular. He teases his younger brother mercilessly over his devotion to three religions. Santosh Patel –
Pi’s father. He once owned a Madras hotel, but because of his deep interest in animals decided to run the Pondicherry Zoo. A worrier by nature, he teaches his sons not only to care for and control wild animals, but to fear them. Though raised a Hindu, he is not religious and is puzzled by Pi’s adoption of numerous religions. Gita Patel –
Pi’s beloved mother and protector. A book lover, she encourages Pi to read widely. Raised Hindu with a Baptist education, she does not subscribe to any religion and questions Pi’s religious declarations. When Pi relates another version of his story to his rescuers, she takes the place of Orange Juice on the lifeboat. Father Martin –
The Catholic priest who introduces Pi to Christianity after Pi wanders into his church. He preaches a message of love. He, the Muslim Mr. Kumar, and the Hindu pandit disagree about whose religion Pi should practice. Satish Kumar –
A plain-featured Muslim mystic with the same name as Pi’s biology teacher. He works in a bakery. Like the other Mr. Kumar, this one has a strong effect on Pi’s academic plans: his faith leads Pi to study religion at college. The Hindu Pandit –
One of three important religious figures in the novel. Never given a name, he is outraged when Pi, who was raised Hindu, begins practicing other religions. He and the other two religious leaders are quieted somewhat by Pi’s declaration that he just wants to love God. The Author -
The narrator of the (fictitious) Author’s Note, who inserts himself into the narrative at several points throughout the text. Though the author who pens the Author’s Note never identifies himself by name, there are many clues that indicate it is Yann Martel himself, thinly disguised: he lives in Canada, has published two books, and was inspired to write Pi’s life story during a trip to India.
The Color Orange
In Life of Pi, the color orange symbolizes hope and survival. Just before the scene in which the Tsimtsum sinks, the narrator describes visiting the adult Pi at his home in Canada and meeting his family. Pi’s daughter, Usha, carries an orange cat. This moment assures the reader that the end of the story, if not happy, will not be a complete tragedy, since Pi is guaranteed to survive the catastrophe and father children of his own. The little orange cat recalls the...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document