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.
Life of Pi , according to Yann Martel, can be summarized in three statements: "Life is a story... You can choose your story... A story with God is the better story." A recurring theme throughout the novel seems to be believability. Pi at the end of the book asks the two investigators "If you stumble at mere believability, what are you living for?" According to Gordon Houser there are two main themes of the book: "that all life is interdependent, and that we live and breathe via belief."
PBS has described Martel's story as one of "personal growth through adversity." The main character learns that "tigers are dangerous" at a young age when his father forces him to watch the zoo's Royal Bengal tiger patriarch, Mahisha, devour a live goat. Later, after he has been reduced to eking out a desperate existence on the lifeboat with the company of a fully grown tiger, Pi develops "alpha" qualities as he musters the strength, will and skills he needs to survive.