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

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Piscine gives a charming description of The Pondicherry Zoo, and explains how his father, a former hotelier, came to be its founder, owner, and director. Keeping a zoo is humorously compared to keeping a hotel, the zoo guests being unhygienic, sexually open, and never leaving tips.

Piscine loves growing up in the zoo. He sees beauty and perfection in nature. He explains that the animals in the zoo are “happy” and would find being “free” disagreeable because they have established their territories, free of predators, in their zoo enclosures. Like humans in their own houses, the animals each have their own “compressed territory where basic needs can be fulfilled close by and safely.” Piscine goes on to cite instances where animals have had the opportunity the escape and did not. He says that animals in the wild do not have true freedom because they are restricted by time, space, predation, etc. and must constsntly defend themselves. He concludes saying that people have the same misconceptions about zoos as that have about religion.


Piscine begins his justification of zoos saying, “I have heard nearly as much nonsense about zoos as I have about God and religion.” He continues on for over four pages about animals in zoos, not mentioning religion again until the end where he compares religion and zoos once again, with no explanation. To understand the analogy, consider what Piscine said about animals in the wild compared to animals in the zoo. The zoo animals have a framework around them that makes it so much easier to meet their needs that they do not want to leave. Perhaps Martel is suggesting that humans also need something more than “freedom”, a framework (i.e. God, religion) to make it easier to meet human needs so that our lives are more than “lives of compulsion and necessity”

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Life of Pi Study Guide Free BookNotes Plot Summary

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Cassie, Donna L.. "TheBestNotes on Life of Pi". . 09 May 2017