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.

The two Japanese men return and inform Pi that his story is not believable. He asks why and they mention that bananas do not float, to which Pi proves them wrong by floating two bananas in front of them. Their second point is the carnivorous island, which seems impossible. Pi states that it is unlikely that certain other plants would make sense if one had never seen them, such as a Venus Fly trap. The missing tiger is the third argument to which Pi mentions that animals escape all the time and are never found. He is angry that his story is“hard to believe” and they step aside again, commenting that he stole their entire lunches.

When Mr. Okamoto tries to discuss the sinking of the ship, Pi has none of it and they continue to argue over the truth of Pi’s story. The conversation tugs back and forth ending with idle conversation to ease the stress.

Finally, Pi angrily starts a story designed so as not to“surprise you. That will confirm what you already know.” He tells them a second story without animals in which a French Cook, a sailor with a broken leg and Pi’s mother are with him on the lifeboat. The cook cuts off the sailor’s leg and when he dies, eats him, greatly disturbing Pi and hismother. A while later Pi’s mother and the cook argue and the cook kills Pi’s mother, throwing her head to Pi. Afterwards, Pi kills the cook and finally, alone, he turns to God.

Mr. Okamoto points out the parallels in the stories and analogous situations and the two don’t know what to believe. They continue to press for details about the actual sinking of the ship and continue to annoy Pi who has only bad things to say about the crew of the ship.

With neither story offering a different outcome, Pi requests that they choose which story they like best. The two men enjoy the first story, to which Pi offers thanks and begins to cry. The two men finally thank Pi and leave, commenting that they’ll hide from Richard Parker. Pi comments “He’s hiding somewhere you’ll never find him.”

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