Life Of Pi | Yann Martel
This is a great and fun book for 5H and 5V/6V kids a can lead to fun discussions on the book
exam, since Pi has several religions and there's the "eat or be eaten / kill or be killed"
principle in the novel. Also, this seems rather important to them, it's easy to read and has now
been made into a major motion picture.
Life of Pi has three parts. In the first main character, Pi, an adult, looks back upon his childhood. Piscine
Molitor Patel ("Pi") was named after a swimming pool. He changed his name to Pi when he started to
attend secondary school, because he was tired of being mistakenly called "Pissing Patel." His parents
owned a zoo. He was born a Hindu, but as the fourteen-year-old came into contact with Christianity and
Islam he started to follow three religions. He tried to understand God through the lens of each religion,
and came to recognize the benefits of each. Eventually, his family decided to move to Canada for
In the second part, the boat carrying Pi and his family plus most of the animals in their zoo to Canada
sinks and Pi ends up with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, a hyena, a zebra and an orangutan in a
small lifeboat. The Bengaltiger is named so because of a clerical error. The tiger was actually caught by
a British National called Richard Parker, but while documenting it, the zoo worker notes down that as the
name of the tiger. All the other humans and animals that were on the boat drown in the ocean. The
zebra's leg is broken when it jumps into the lifeboat from the sinking ship and hence is unable to move.
The hungry hyena tears off the zebra's leg and spends the next several days eating the zebra bit by bit.
Then the hyena kills the orangutan named "Orange Juice", even though she was not a natural prey of the
hyena. Eventually Richard Parker kills the hyena after a fierce battle for territory. The hyena is eaten by
the tiger. This leaves Pi as the only other survivor along with the tiger. Food and water supplies start
running low after a month since the lifeboat was designed to sustain 32 people for a day or two. Pi starts
fishing to get food for him as well as Richard Parker, whom he keeps fed so that he won't eat him alive.
He also wants to keep him alive so that he will not be all alone on the ocean. "The very thought of being
alone is worse than being stranded on a lifeboat with a 450-pound tiger" he thinks. Pi ensures, with his
knowledge as the son of a zoo-keeper, that Richard Parker believes Pi is the alpha animal and therefore
doesn’t attack the boy. 227 days pass and Pi manages to stay alive. Pi is sometimes half in delusion,
and thirst and hunger are ever-present. He's forced to eat cigarettes, turtle and even a shoe. After 227
days the lifeboat reaches the coast of Mexico.
(Accidentally, 22 divided by 7 is a common approximation of pi).
The third part is a conversation between two people from the Japanese maritime department. They want
to know what might have gone wrong with the ship, so they ask Pi for his story, but they don't believe it.
He tells another story, in which the orangutan is his mother, the zebra is a sailor with a broken leg, and
the hyena is a cook who killed Pi's mother and ate the sailor. Richard Parker is Pi himself.
Pi asks the two people which of the two stories they prefer. The people say they prefer the story with the