Life of Pi is a fantasy adventure novel by Yann Martel published in 2001. The protagonist, Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel, an Indian boy from Pondicherry, explores issues of spirituality and practicality from an early age. He survives 227 days after a shipwreck while stranded on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.
Life of Pi is divided into three sections. In the first section, the main character, Pi, an adult, reminisces about his childhood. He was named Piscine Molitor Patel after a swimming pool in France. He changes his name to "Pi" when he begins secondary school, because he is tired of being taunted with the nickname "Pissing Patel". His father owns a zoo in Pondicherry, providing Pi with a relatively affluent lifestyle and some understanding of animal psychology.
Pi is raised a Hindu, but as a fourteen-year-old he is introduced to Christianity and Islam, and starts to follow all three religions as he "just wants to love God." He tries to understand God through the lens of each religion and comes to recognize benefits in each one.
Eventually, his family decides to sell their zoo over a land dispute with the government, and sell the animals to a zoo in Canada before immigrating there themselves. In the second part of the novel, Pi's family embarks on a Japanese freighter to Canada carrying some of the animals from their zoo, but a few days out of port, the ship meets a storm and capsizes, resulting in his parents' death. After the storm, Pi regains consciousness in a small lifeboat with a spotted hyena, an injured zebra, and an orangutan.
As Pi strives to survive among the animals, the hyena kills the zebra, then the orangutan, much to Pi's distress. At this point, it is discovered that a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker had been hiding under the boat's tarp; it kills and eats the hyena. Frightened, Pi constructs a small raft out of flotation devices, tethers it to the boat, and retreats to it. He delivers some of the fish and water he harvests to Richard Parker to keep him satisfied, conditioning Richard Parker not to threaten him by rocking the boat and causing seasickness while blowing a whistle. Eventually, Richard Parker learns to tolerate Pi's presence and they both live in the boat.
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