Life of Pi


Plot Summary

A fictional version of the author, Yann Martel, travels from Canada to India in order to gain inspiration for the novel he is writing. There, he finds that his existing plot will not come to life. Fortuitously, he encounters a man named Francis Adirubasamy who offers to tell him a story so wonderful that it will make him “believe in God.” Through Mr. Adirubasamy, the author is connected with a man named Pi Patel, who will be the protagonist of Martel’s story. At this point, the author switches the narrative to first person, in the voice of Pi.

As a boy, Pi is raised in Pondicherry, India. Because of his father’s friendship with Mr. Adirubasamy, a champion swimmer, Pi was named after a French swimming club called the Piscine Molitor and was taught to swim at an early age. Pi’s family, consisting of his parents and his brother Ravi, is loving and close-knit. His father is the owner and keeper of the Pondicherry Zoo, so Pi grows up learning a great deal about a wide variety of animals and, in fact, living among them. One vivid memory from Pi’s childhood consists of his father demonstrating the dangerous nature of certain animals by feeding a live goat to a Bengal tiger in front of him. As a young man, Pi is strongly attracted to religion in various forms. His family is Hindu, but he attends a Catholic school and begins to practice Christianity as well. In addition, he befriends a local Muslim and also practices Islam. As unusual as it seems to others, Pi has no difficulty reconciling the three religions in his own mind, and devoutly practices all three.

In the summer of 1977, when Pi is sixteen years old, his father decides to move the family to Canada. They set sail on a Japanese cargo ship on June 21, taking with them several cages of zoo animals which are to be sold in North America. For reasons unknowable, the boat sinks. Pi manages to stay afloat in a lifeboat but, tragically, he is without his family and forced to presume that they are all dead. As far as Pi can tell, he is the only human survivor of the shipwreck. However,...

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