Yann Martel's "The Life of Pi": Book Review

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Words: 980 |

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5 min read

Published: Oct 2, 2020

Words: 980|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Oct 2, 2020

The Life of Pi is a story about survival, and how a belief in God can make a boy into a man and how facing life and death in the Pacific Ocean can lead to either utter despair or having an unwavering faith in God that can lead to survival The entire novel showcases, Pi and his belief about God clear and it is very clear as shown in the very beginning of the story basically starts off when an old man in Pondicherry tells the narrator, “I have a story that will make you believe in God.”

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The true story begins as the protagonist explores the different religions and spirituality from an early age and is somehow able to what he learned from the world’s biggest religions and somehow survive a staggering 227 days shipwrecked in the Pacific Ocean alone with nothing but a Bengal tiger on his side. The key part of all the religions shown in the novel are the storytelling and religious beliefs that are constantly being linked to ideas in the novel. The three religions that he studies are, Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam, come with its own set of tales and hymns. The main character of the book Pi is constantly growing as a religious person as stated in the early part of the shipwreck in which he survives and thanks God and try to survive and when he is constantly surviving from drowning or cannibals he thanks God every time and it becomes imprinted into his lifestyle. The main thing about Pi is that he is always trying to survive on sea by doing what Muslims do by doing a daily thing each day to help himself as giving himself a routine and try to accomplish everyday on his schedule with either a prayer or something he needs to do. The story of Pi is about him and his family in India and his father teaching him how to be a man and allows him to study all of his religions even though he does not know why he cares about the non-Hindu ones. The story of Pi is one of a boy going on a journey in which he has no choice but to believe in a God due to him still being alive and how it is keeping him sane due to Richard Parker not killing him and saving him and just allowing him to survive and delivering him from death door to safety a plethora of times.

The Life of Pi is an amazing story due to the journey of Pi. The only way Pi could have survived something like this is through a belief in something and that something was what he studied all three of his religions. The religions of Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam allowed Pi to believe ina higher power thanks in part of his imagination and his unquestionable love of God. The biggest problem most people face that the book showed was the fact that not only would someone be lonely but they would most likely go insane due to constant isolation they would face. The only problem the book showed was that Richard Parker somehow did not kill Pi or that he actually survived for almost a year on a raft from a year ago and the reason for that is due to the fact the raft should not last that long and it is supposed to only be used in emergency for at most three months but he does not question this and shows a faith in Richard Parker and God like in Christianity that a Christian chooses to have faith over just doing like in Judaism.

The biggest thing Pi said that shows his faith and the reason why is “To me, religion is about our dignity, not our depravity”, that quote shows why he is so accepting of other religions due to the fact that we are all made in God’s image and that we should respect one another as Pi does with actually learning the different religions. The reason Pi is able to live throughout the entire Pacific Ocean alone is due to his belief in God that can be shown after he lost everything and he accepts that he does not know exactly which religion is right but he can appreciate them all as when he saw Richard Parker after the boat sinking and said “ Jesus, Mary, Muhammad and Vishnu how good to see you Richard Parker”, that quote shows that he believes in all of their messages and that in class that the most important people name in each religion is stated in this quote due to Pi moment of happiness of not losing everyone and everything he knew. In the class we learned that in Hinduism that Vishnu is probably the most important God of all of them due to his impact and that the rest of the people he named were the messengers of their religions.

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The story of Pi can be summed in the final part of the book in which he asked the Japanese officials “Which story do you prefer? Which is the better story?” he asked them this after giving them a series of questions saying how their is basically no difference in the story itself but the people or animals involved even though the actions were the same and with that he proved that people will pick the story they prefer even though Pi story with humans sound more plausible than the one with Richard Parker being a tiger they cannot deny the fact that in the end his family and everything else that mattered happened and they have no way to prove it but to believe his word as do the people of faith when they read their religious text and showcase their faith by just believing or practicing their sacred ceremonies.

Works Cited

  1. Martel, Yann. Life of Pi. Harcourt, 2001.
  2. Bocking, Brian. “Life of Pi, Virtue, and the Question of Religion.” Literature and Theology, vol. 29, no. 2, 2015, pp. 150–162.
  3. Forbes, Bruce David. “Cognitive Ecology, Religion, and The Life of Pi.” CrossCurrents, vol. 63, no. 2, 2013, pp. 233–252.
  4. Gifford, James. “The Limits of Literary Interpretation: Life of Pi and the Philosophical Significance of Animal Symbolism.” Journal of Critical Animal Studies, vol. 10, no. 2, 2012, pp. 62–79.
  5. Higginson, James. “Animals, Empathy, and the Ethics of Narrative: Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.” Philosophy and Literature, vol. 37, no. 2, 2013, pp. 404–417.
  6. Jolly, Margaretta. “Sacred Spaces and Literary Practices in Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.” Religion and the Arts, vol. 17, no. 1–2, 2013, pp. 127–152.
  7. Kavenna, Joanna. “The Resilience of Religion in Life of Pi.” The Spectator, 30 June 2018,
  8. Malik, Ameena. “Faith, Fiction, and the Human Journey: Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.” Religion and the Arts, vol. 20, no. 5, 2016, pp. 625–644.
  9. Mathur, Piyush. “Animals as Narrative Devices in Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.” Journal of Indian Writing in English, vol. 42, no. 1, 2014, pp. 1–8.
  10. Sinclair, Mark. “Writing Faith: Pi Patel and Yann Martel.” Literary Imagination, vol. 18, no. 3, 2016, pp. 348–366.
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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Yann Martel’s “The Life Of Pi”: Book Review. (2020, October 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 12, 2024, from
“Yann Martel’s “The Life Of Pi”: Book Review.” GradesFixer, 10 Oct. 2020,
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