Pi imagines what an atheist might experience upon dying and finally
having faith and love revealed. He contrasts that with his imagined experience
of an agnostic who dies clinging to dry, yeastless factuality and thereby
misses the better story because of lack of imagination and faith.
The meaning of the novel is summarized here. Faith and love provide
for the better story in life, and the better story is, well, better. This
chapter also foreshadows Pi's better story of his experiences in Part
Pi, now sixteen, is happily practicing his manifold religions without
his basically secular family's knowledge. While walking along the beach,
the family happens to meet the wise men of each of Pi's religions. As
the priest, imam, and pandit approach, Pi is horribly aware his religious
multiplicity will not be accepted. The priest commends Pi on being a good
Christian. This, of course, amazes and upsets the others. Each wise man
takes his turn attempting to correct the others about Pi's faith and about
which religion is truest. After much proselytizing, the holy men finally
agree that though it is venerable for Pi to seek God so enthusiastically,
he cannot practice all three religions. He must choose. Embarrassed, Pi
replies, I just want to love God. No one could object to or reprimand
that comment so the three wise men walk away. Father escapes the situation
by offering to buy ice cream and the family continues their walk in silence.
All three religions espouse a personal relationship with God and profess that God is love. Pi is able to accept this commonality innocently. The wise men, caught up in dogma, do not see it until Pi explains himself, inoffensively yet incontrovertibly. Diffidently, they depart, unwilling to accept the Truth Pi has revealed, but unable to dispute it. Not being ingrained with any particular dogma, Pi's parents quietly accept it.