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Literature Study GuidesLife Of PiPart 1 Chapters 13 15 Summary

Life of Pi

Yann Martel

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Life of Pi | Part 1, Chapters 13–15 : Toronto and Pondicherry | Summary



Part 1, Chapter 13

Pi explains the importance of territorial dominance to animals. A lion tamer in a circus, he says, succeeds by establishing his authority over the lions. Animals are usually hostile because of "social insecurity" or not knowing where they stand in a hierarchy. The circus trainer can tame an animal through psychological tricks such as an authoritative posture and gaze.

Part 1, Chapter 14

Pi notes the lion with the lowest social standing in the pride—the "omega animal"—is easiest to train. In general "socially inferior" animals will make better efforts to befriend their keepers.

Part 1, Chapter 15

The visiting writer observes adult Pi's home, which he describes as "a temple." Pi has shrines to the Hindu god Ganesha and to the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe, a Christian icon. His home is decorated with images of other Hindu gods, a Bible, a crucifix, a cloth with Arabic writing, and a prayer rug.


The information about animal dominance may seem out of context to Pi's own story in Part 1, aside from showing off his storytelling skills in describing a circus scene. But he's introducing the ideas of captivity and subjugation, different aspects of enclosure and escape. He's also explaining how he survived on the lifeboat.

He references "doubt and fear" as healthy for an animal. The "brute force" described in Part 1, Chapter 8 doesn't always give an animal the upper hand. There are psychological tricks humans can use to give animals the comfort of certainty about their social standing.

In Part 1, Chapter 14 Pi shows his intricate knowledge of how animals behave in groups. Settings, surroundings, and territory are crucial to animal welfare. Part of territory and belonging is knowing where one stands in a group. Thus, animals further down the food chain will seek more desperately for approval because they want to belong.

The structure of Part 1 establishes Pi's animal knowledge, then segues into his coming-of-age story and his unique faith background. In Part 1, Chapter 15 the visiting writer provides a smooth transition, showing Pi's religious devotion based on the objects and setting around him—Pi's own territory and home—as being as meaningful to him as his devotion to animals.

The visiting writer includes stories about Ganesha and Shiva to demonstrate the importance of storytelling and mythology to faith. He emphasizes the colors and the beauty of Pi's objects; aesthetic appreciation of his world is significant to Pi.

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