Life of Pi


Summary: Part One, Chapters 29-36

Summary: Part One, Chapters 29-36

At the beginning of Chapter 29, Pi asks rhetorically, “Why do people move?” He comes to the conclusion that the reason is always the same: “People move in the hope of a better life.” This is the reason Pi’s father decides to leave India. Pi tells us that India in the mid-1970s was a politically troubled time. As a teenager, Pi was not much interested in the political details, but he could tell that his parents were concerned. In 1976, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s “dictatorial takeover,” in the eyes of Mr. Patel, becomes complete. He decides to move the family to Canada, a place utterly foreign to the Patel family.

The narration switches to the author’s perspective in Chapter 30, when he meets Pi’s wife, Meena. The author is surprised that he had not noticed earlier that Pi is married. He observes an affectionate exchange between husband and wife and reflects that Pi has learned “not to show off what is most precious to him.”

In Chapter 31, Pi describes how his biology teacher Mr. Kumar and the Muslim baker Mr. Kumar once met at the Pondicherry zoo. The atheist and the holy man bonded over their mutual admiration of a beautiful Grant’s zebra. In the following chapter Pi introduces the concept of zoomorphism, the phenomenon of an animal accepting a different kind of animal as one of its own kind. He relates several examples, including how in the zoology trade, female dogs are sometimes used as foster mothers to lion cubs. As surprising as it seems, the lion cubs accept the dog’s maternal role and do not threaten her even when they have become far larger than their “foster mother.” Pi speculates that the reason for this is a kind of emotional necessity: “the lion cubs… would positively keel over with fright if they knew their mother was a dog, for that would mean they were motherless, the absolute worst condition imaginable for any young, warm-blooded life.”

In Chapter 33, the...

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