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

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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES


CHAPTER 34


Summary

Pi’s family sells off the zoo animals, mostly to zoos in America. Pi feels as though he and Ravi are zoo animals being shipped off to Canada. Because of extensive regulations and paperwork, the preparations take over a year. This at least, gives Pi and Ravi time to get used to the idea of moving. Three Americans come to examine the animals. Finally the paperwork is complete.

Notes

Pi prepares the reader for a journey. At this point it seems as though it will be a geographic journey, traveling to a new country. Pi is leaving his wondrous zoo life behind. More than adequate preparation has been made. What could go wrong?



CHAPTER 35


Summary

Pi’s family leaves on June 21, 1977. Mother is especially sad to leave the beautiful familiarity of India. They board the Japanese cargo ship Tsimtsum accompanied by the caged, sedated animals. Pi is thrilled. Still, things go wrong.

Notes

This is the last beautiful description of India. The family leaves on a ship that bears the name of a Kabbalist concept from the cosmogony of Isaac Luria (who was first mentioned in Chapter 1). The word tsimtsum or zimzum means “contraction” or “withdrawal.” A simple explanation is that before God could create the universe He had to contract or withdraw Himself so there would be space for His Creation to fill. Then into that space, a second tsimtsum, or contraction of God’s light entered. From that light came the entire universe and its imperfect people. There was no imperfection in Pi’s life before the Tsimtsum.


CHAPTER 36


Summary

The author arrives a little early to Pi’s house and at first sees no one. At that moment, Pi’s teenage son runs out of the house, late for baseball practice. Pi apologizes for the lack of proper introduction. Then, surprised, the author also meets Pi’s dog, four-year-old daughter, and cat. Pi is a proud and loving father. “This story has a happy ending.”

Notes

The reader now has the complete picture of the adult Pi’s life. He seems to be living “happily ever after,” as confirmed by the author’s final remark. Pi has survived whatever obstacles he had to face. Martel has given away the ending of his own novel. In this case, however, knowing the outcome is not a “spoiler” because for Martel (and for Pi), it is not about the result, it is about the story - specifically, the better story.

Pi takes over the narration completely from here. There will be no more interjections from the author for many chapters.


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