Posted by: Staff | 05.28.2009

Bynoe Loves Pi!

DANIELLE BYNOE ’10

Life of Pi begins with author Yann Martel’s accounts of his trip to India, where he meets with Mr. Pi Patel who agrees to share his story. Martel writes this unique novel in Pi’s voice in order to give the story complete justice. Pi, which is short for Piscine, is the teenage son of Santosh who is a zookeeper living in Pondicherry, a French controlled area in India. His family also includes his mother, Gita, and his older brother, Ravi. Pi lives a happy, fun filled life, enriched with his many educational opportunities. Pi develops a close relationship with a family friend, whom he calls Mamaji. Pi learns the importance of swimming with Mamaji.

Pi’s mother plays an important role in the novel. She is not only wholeheartedly loving but also nurturing and encourages Pi to explore his thirst for knowledge. As a teenager Pi’s desire for knowledge intensifies his search of God. Pi was brought up as Hindu, due to his Indian backgroud, but he begins to practice two other religions: Christianity and Islam. As the son of a zookeeper, Pi learns a lot about animals and their behavior; this knowledge later proves to be of tremendous value to him.

Santosh, the zoo keeper, uproots his family when he decides to relocate the family to Canada due to India’s growing political problems. He finds a way to arrange a cargo ship to take his family and several of the zoo animals to Canada. Unfortunately the ship sinks, leaving Pi as an orphan, alone on a lifeboat with hungry, vicious, and barely trained animals, including a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Pi’s religious beliefs and knowledge of animal behavior help him survive his days at sea.

What makes this story truly unique are the vivid descriptions that Martel includes. His diction allows this novel to truly be quirky, original, and quite humorous. In addition to the entertaining aspect that Life of Pi presents, religion plays a powerful part. I recommend Life of Pi to anyone who is ready to appreciate all of the complexities that this story offers.

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