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Free Study Guide for Life of Pi by Yann Martel Book Summary

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THEMES


The Better Story


The predominant theme is the concept of the “better story”, in other words, the importance of telling a good story. Life itself is a story and one can choose his own story. The “better story” is the more imaginative one and, according to Pi, the one God would choose as well. One must have faith in something beyond bare logic.

Science and Religion

A minor theme is the reconciliation of science and religion as ways to understand the world. Pi meshes the two in order to survive 227 days on the lifeboat. He ends up majoring in both zoology and religious studies.

Religious Syncretism

Another minor theme is the syncretism, or union of the seemingly opposing principals, of religions. As different as Pi’s three religions are, they all involve a personal relationship with God. They are blended into Pi’s own unique spirituality and remain with him as an adult.


MOOD

The novel is divided into three parts and the mood changes as one part transitions to the next. In Part One, the mood is wondrous, full of the embarrassments and marvels of childhood. It changes to a spiritual mood as Pi gets older, discovers multiple ways to know God, and prepares for the journey to Canada. Part Two deepens the spiritual mood, but as time goes on and Pi’s situation becomes more and more life-threatening, the mood changes to desperation. In Part Three the desperation remains as Pi tries intently to get the Japanese representatives to believe his story. The desperation turns to satisfaction when Pi is finally able to make his point.


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