Life of Pi


Key Quotes

1. I know zoos are no longer in people’s good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both.

Pi says this in Chapter 4, just after debunking what he believes is the myth that animals are not happy in zoos. He has just explained that the environment of a zoo, if properly maintained, creates a habitat so comfortable for animals that it is preferable to the violent uncertainty of life in the wild. In this surprising comparison, Pi suggests that zoos and religion both have falsely earned reputations because people tend to view them as limiting freedom. Instead, Pi believes, the animals in the zoo are freer to enjoy life because they are in a carefully constructed environment. Similarly, religion—as Pi understands it—can increase our freedom by enabling us to create a more comfortable environment for ourselves, one that is not merely made of harsh reality, but of transcendent notions like love and faith.

2. I will tell you a secret: a part of me was glad about Richard Parker. A part of me did not want Richard Parker to die at all, because if he died I would be left alone with despair, a foe even more formidable than a tiger. If I still had the will to live, it was thanks to Richard Parker. He kept me from thinking too much about my family and my tragic circumstances. He pushed me to go on living. I hated him for it, yet at the same time I was grateful. I am grateful. It’s the plain truth: without Richard Parker, I wouldn’t be alive today to tell you my story.

This quotation comes from Chapter 57, some weeks into Pi’s ordeal. It is interesting to examine Pi’s confession in the context of his first story as well as his second. In a direct sense, Pi means that Richard Parker’s company kept him from being lonely and from thinking constantly about his loss. As a companion and a challenger, Richard Parker pushed Pi—almost against his will—to go on living. Viewed in the light of Pi’s second version of the story,...

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Essays About Life of Pi