Life of Pi

Welcome to my review on the novel, Life of Pi (written by Yann Martel). I’ve read this novel about 3 years ago. When I was in Junior High School (Grade 8). So, forgive me if I got any of the plot-points or any details wrong. Oh, before we begin. *SPOILERS* For those who haven’t read(and want to read) Life of Pi, you should stop reading this article/blog. Now, without further ado, let’s begin the review.

The story begins with the introduction of the protagonist, Piscine Molitor Patel or simply, “Pi”. He got bullied at his school because of his first name, Piscine, In which they started calling him “Pissing”, because it rhymed with his name. Kids these days, they ridicule everything. And now, he wanted to be called “Pi” instead of his first name, he associated his name to the  irrational number which is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Their family owns a zoo, they had a Bengal tiger, which was named Richard Parker, quite a weird name for a tiger. It was later explained that the tiger’s name was the result of a clerical error, in which human and animal names were reversed. They had a zebra, and orangutan, and many more.

A Bengal tiger

Later on, they moved to Canada and sold their zoo. And they were on a boat/freighter. A couple days in the voyage, the ship encounters a storm and the boat sinks, leaving Pi’s family dead and most of their animals from their zoo dead. Pi however manages to survive and find a small life-boat. However, the Bengal tiger, Richard Parker, a hyena, an injured zebra, and an orangutan. The hyena kills the injured zebra and then the orangutan. The orangutan was named Orange Juice by the way. Don’t ask me why. And then the Bengal tiger which was hiding under the boat’s tarpaulin, kills and eats the hyena. Which leaves Pi and the tiger the remaining survivors. However, Pi was able to befriend(?) and tame the tiger. A lot of things happened, Pi due to prolonged exposure was becoming delusional. A french sailor who was also a survivor tried to kill Pi but was protected by Richard Parker. Eventually, Pi and Parker were able to reach an island which was filled with meerkats and the whole island was full of algae. Much to Pi’s delight, however, Pi eventually finds out that the island itself was carnivorous in nature and immediately left the island with Richard Parker. Two hundred and twenty-seven days after the ship’s sinking, the lifeboat washes onto a beach in Mexico, after which Richard Parker disappears into the nearby jungle without looking back, leaving Pi heartbroken at the abrupt farewell. This scenario left me really sad and down. After what they have been through, the abrupt parting was really heart-breaking. Later on, officials/officers went to Pi who was recovering in a hospital in Mexico, to talk about what had transpired in the incident. Pi told them about the story about the Bengal tiger, the hyena, the orangutan but the officials refused to believe it.  Pi then offers them a second story in which he is adrift on a lifeboat not with zoo animals, but with the ship’s cook, a Taiwanese sailor with a broken leg, and his own mother. The cook amputates the sailor’s leg for use as fishing bait, then kills the sailor himself as well as Pi’s mother for food, and soon he is killed by Pi, who dines on him.

The officials note parallels between the two stories. They soon conclude that the hyena symbolizes the cook, the zebra the sailor, the orangutan Pi’s mother, and the tiger Pi. Pi points out that neither story can be proven and neither explains the cause of the shipwreck, so he asks the officials which story they prefer: the one without animals or the one with animals. They eventually choose the story with the animals. Pi thanks them and says: “And so it goes with God.” The officers then leave him and file a report.

Yann Martel couldn’t have done it better. His words, passages, and sentences were well-written. They are incredibly precise and as if you can feel the salt and taste the seawater on your mouth. And feel the dread of being stranded on a small lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. You can feel the character’s frustrations and struggles to keep on going. It really captivated me and I was quite immersed and amazed when I read this book.


And now I will rate “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel:


5 out of 5 stars

I recommend that you would read this book. It has so many things in it. It has so many symbolism, different interpretations and many more. A simple story with potentially life altering consequences for it’s readers.


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