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

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Pi wishes he had a book that he could read over and over and appreciate anew each time. He wishes for scripture. He considers himself as Arjuna, but without any advice from Krishna. Remembering his feelings the first time he found a Gideon’s Bible in a hotel, he believes that finding scripture when in need of a place of rest is an excellent way to spread faith.

He would even appreciate a novel, but all he has is the survival manual. He keeps a diary, writing small so as not to run out of his limited supply of paper. The things he writes are not chronological, but clumps of information about the events and feelings he is experiencing.


Pi wishes for divine guidance in the form of a book. He refers to himself as Arjuna, the “Doer of Good Deeds,” about whom the story from the Hindu scripture the Bhagavad-Gita is written. Arjuna is reluctant to battle against people who are dear to him, but Krishna reminds him of samsara (the cycle of reincarnation) and moksha (liberation from the cycle and its worldly conception of self) to show Arjuna that death is not a bad thing. Arjuna can then complete his task. The relationship between Arjuna and Krishna is that of Man guided by God. Pi has a task to complete, but no godly words of wisdom to guide him. Having nothing to read, he writes.



Pi conducts his own religious rituals. This practice is comforting, yet difficult. When feeling his lowest he professes out loud his belief in God as Creator. However, the creations of God that Pi has in his current possession are rapidly deteriorating, as is his spirit. He remembers his family and rekindles the light of God.


Pi’s rituals at sea are completely devoid of the requirements of the religious rituals. His Mass (Divine Liturgy of Catholicism) is without Communion (sacrament of bread and wine commemorating Christ’s Last Supper before His crucifixion). His darshan (meaning “sight” or devotion to something seen) is without murti (holy statues or images to look upon). And his pujas (chanting of mantra while making offerings to murtis) are with turtle meat (definitely non-vegetarian) as Prasad (offerings to a deity that are then consumed). He even prays to Allah, having no clue which direction to face toward Mecca (sacred city which Muslims turn toward during prayer). There is an element of despair in Pi’s faith. He often comes close to losing it, but God always remains and Pi “would go on loving.”



Pi sings “Happy Birthday” to his mother.


In the midst the of daily utility of survival, Pi does indeed go on loving.

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