Life of Pi


Cast of Characters

Piscine Molitor Patel (Pi): The protagonist of the story, an Indian man living in Canada as an adult. He tells the author about his childhood in India, and then about his experience surviving on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean for 227 days in the company of a full-grown Bengal tiger. Most of the novel is narrated from Pi’s perspective. In Part 2, he tells one version of his story and in Part 3, he tells a slightly different version.

Richard Parker: An adult male Bengal tiger who also survives the shipwreck. Richard Parker is trained by Pi so that the two of them can coexist. In Pi’s second version of the story, told in Part 3 of the novel, Richard Parker does not appear. This suggests the possibility that Richard Parker represents an aspect of Pi himself—his instinctual, sometimes brutal, animal nature.

The Author: An intrusive narrator, the author can be seen as a fictional version of Yann Martel. In the beginning author’s note, he describes how he discovered Pi’s story, and announces that he will narrate the main events of the story from Pi’s perspective. The italicized chapters of the novel are written in the author’s own voice as he comments on his impressions of Pi and reflects on his own feelings.

Santosh Patel: Pi’s father. An excellent zookeeper in Pondicherry, he decides to leave India due to the political tensions of the mid-1970s. Santosh instills in Pi a fascination with animals as well as a healthy respect for their dangerous natures. In both versions of Pi’s story, he is drowned in the shipwreck.

Gita Patel: Pi’s mother, whom he dearly loves and respects. She is intelligent and outspoken. In the first version of Pi’s story, she dies in the shipwreck along with his father and brother. In the second version, however, she survives with Pi for a time on the lifeboat and is then murdered by the greedy and ravenous cook. Her parallel animal character is Orange...

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Essays About Life of Pi