The major theme is the value of the better story. As Pi puts it, The world isn't just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? How we interpret reality can be, as it is for Pi, our faith. We need to believe in something beyond the seen. It helps us deal with fear. It helps us find a better story.
Everything about life is a story and we can choose our own story. Martel's
point is that the story that is more imaginative is the better story.
The reader can choose whether Pi's life is real-life fiction or imaginative
fiction. Pi presents the Japanese men (and the reader) with two stories,
one inspired and one crude reality. The men prefer the better story and
in the end accept it. Pi feels that God prefers the better story as well,
And so it goes with God.
A theme, and also a recurring motif, is the bringing together of science and religion as equal ways of understanding the world. Pi's zoo upbringing and his relationship to the animals provide a scientific understanding of the world. His multiple religious philosophies and relationship with God provide a spiritual understanding of the world. He must combine his knowledge of science with his faith in order to survive on the lifeboat.
Pi's inspiration came from his childhood prophets, Mr. and Mr. Kumar.
In Chapter 31, where the two Kumars meet and enjoy the zoo with Pi there
is a comfortable intermingling and even a crossing over of the biology
teacher's knowledge and logic with the Sufi's spiritual understanding.
These two seemingly opposite men move Pi to a double major, one zoology
and one religious studies. Pi accepts both perceptions as part of understanding
Seemingly opposing religions are brought together in Pi. Hinduism, Catholicism
(or Christianity), and Islam are very different religions. However, they
are all based on belief in one God. Though Brahman (Hindu) is expressed
as countless different divinities, Christ (Christian) is one third of
the Trinity that is God, and Allah (Muslim) is singular, each is a God
of love. Man can have a personal relationship with God in each of the
religions. The dogmas of each religion may contradict each other, but
for Pi it is about faith, not about dogma. Just as he accepts science
and religion as equal ways of understanding the world, Pi accepts all
three religions as equal ways to know God.
The story is told in the first person, but by two different narrators. At first, as expected, the Author's Note is in the author's voice, but this voice becomes a fictional narrator as the story progresses. The bulk of the narration is reminiscences of the adult Pi as told to this fictional author. Regardless of which narrator is speaking, the story is from an adult viewpoint. However, the tone of the young Pi comes through and the reader feels as if it is a teenage boy narrating at times.