Life of Pi Study Guide

Life of Pi

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Life of Pi by Yann Martel tells the story of a young man named Pi Patel, whose family owns a zoo in India. They decide to move to Canada and transport their zoo, but the ship they were sailing across the Atlantic encounters a storm and sinks. Pi is the only survivor, as he finds himself on a lifeboat with a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and Bengal tiger he names Richard Parker.

When Richard Parker loses his vision, it is only a short while before Pi does as well. Not only that but Pi can no longer stand up or eat. He is physically beaten that the insult of blindness is nearly too much to bear.

Out of nowhere though, Pi hears a voice, at first thinking it to be his imagination and then having a full conversation with the voice about food. The voice discusses the joy of eating meat dishes with Pi to which Pi replies that a carrot would be good as well. He realizes that the other voice is very much a meat eater and he believes he might be“talking” to Richard Parker. When he asks if the voice has killed a man, the voice replies that he has killed not only a man but a woman and eaten them both. Pi quickly changes the subject.

After a while, he realizes that the voice has a French accent and thinks that someone else must actually be there. He tells the voice his name and receives a response, asking for food. The both of them are completely blind from lack of nutrition and continue to exchange stories of food. Pi tells the man that he has no food when the other offers a trade and the two commiserate further until Pi invites him aboard to discuss things closer, to enjoy each other’s company. Eventually the other fellow comes aboard and when the two embrace, it is clear that he is trying to kill and eat Pi rather than befriend him. Richard Parker responds swiftly, killing and eating the other castaway. Richard Parker saves Pi’s life, but Pi is completely mortified by theact and brought to tears.

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