Life of Pi - by Yann Martel

"a humorous tale of a boy and a tiger named Richard Parker on a raft"


       The Life of Pi  is about a teenager who loses his family when they are shipwrecked en route to Canada on the Pacific Ocean. The boy survives by boarding a large lifeboat along with a Bengal tiger from his father’s zoo. Piscine Molitor Patel was born in Pondicherry, India and named after the French word for pool because of his father’s unusual interest in swimming. In grade school, Piscine’s classmates make fun of him because his name sounds like "pissing". After several years of enduring the mockery, he is so annoyed  that Piscine changes his name to Pi.

    While living in Pondicherry, Pi Patel becomes concerned with his immortal soul so he starts looking into different religions. At the time, he is already a Hindu because of his family, then he becomes a Christian, then later, a Muslim as well. When Pi’s parents and the religious leaders find out that he is part of three different religions, they tell him it is wrong. However, he does not understand why and eventually persuades his mother to allow to him to keep his religions.

    Pi’s father owns and run a zoo in Pondicherry. He respects the animals’ will to survive and ability to protect themselves. Mr. Patel passes his knowledge on to his sons to keep them safe from the animals. When the zoo business begins to slow down, Pi’s father decides to move his family to Canada and sell all of his animals to different zoos in North America. The Patels and their animals board a Japanese cargo ship to cross the Pacific Ocean to Canada. Underway, the ship encounters a large storm and sinks. Pi somehow manages to get on the lifeboat with a few animals including Richard Parker, a large, adult Bengal tiger. The tiger eventually eats all the other animals so that it is just Pi and Richard Parker on the lifeboat.

    To survive, Pi knows he has to provide food and water for himself and Richard Parker. There are rations in the lifeboat, but they will soon run out. Pi uses distillers he discovers in the survival locker of the lifeboat for fresh water and he learns to fish and catch turtles to eat.

    I liked this novel because the plot was well planned and Yann Martel, the author, obviously did a lot of research before he began to write. In reality, the plot is far-fetched, but the story is so well written that it seems believable. The tone of this book also made me like it. There is humor and sarcasm throughout the story that makes even the sad or serious parts of the book enjoylable. "If thirst can be so taxing that even God Incarnate complains about it, imagine the effect on a regular human." Martel also uses figurative language which makes the descriptions more colorful and easy to imagine. "The clouds looked as it they were stumbling along before the wind, frightened."

   Because Yann Martel has lived in many different countries during his life, it is understandable that he could write about a family moving to a different country and a boy who seems to be alone. Martel also studied philosophy which helped his view of different religions and perspectives.

    - Liza N.