Life of Pi


Summary: Part One, Chapters 1-7

Summary: Part One, Chapters 1-7

Pi’s narrative begins with his confession that as a young man he was “sad and gloomy.” He does not yet disclose the reason for these feelings, but tells us that his university studies in zoology and religion occupied his mind and brought him comfort. Throughout the chapter, Pi alludes to a tragedy from the past from which he recovered his “shattered self.” He confides that he misses someone named Richard Parker, although he does not tell us who Richard Parker is.

Pi explains the origins of his unusual name, Piscine, which is actually the French word for “pool.” Francis Adirubasamy, who Pi calls Mamaji, was a close friend of the family. He was also a swimming champion. Although Pi’s own parents were not swimmers, Mamaji taught Pi to swim at a young age. Pi was named for Mamaji’s favorite public pool in Paris, the Piscine Molitor.

In 1954, a portion of the Pondicherry Botanical Gardens was given over to accommodate a zoo. It was in this “paradise” that Pi and his older brother Ravi were raised. Their father was the zookeeper. Although the zoo no longer exists, Pi still recalls it with fond memories as an ideal landscape for a growing boy. In Chapter 4, Pi addresses the commonly held belief that zoo animals are unhappy because they are not free. He maintains that since all animals are essentially creatures of habit, this is not true. According to Pi, as long as an animal’s environment is carefully and properly maintained, a zoo animal is just as happy—indeed, probably happier—than an animal in the wild. After all, in the wild, animals must constantly fight for survival; in a zoo, survival is assured. Pi suggests that removing a zoo animal from its zoo habitat is similar to evicting a human from his house.

In Chapter 5, Pi relates how, as a schoolboy, his unusual name made him the object of much teasing. The worst nickname he endured was Pissing; even the teachers sometimes, unwittingly, called him Pissing....

Sign up to continue reading Summary: Part One, Chapters 1-7 >

Essays About Life of Pi