Life of Pi

Yann Martel

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Life of Pi | Quotes


I have a story that will make you believe in God.

Mr. Adirubasamy, Author's Note

The visiting writer is looking for a story with emotional life. He is converted after hearing Pi's story, though not to faith—by "God" he means the impossible and the unknowable. Mr. Adirubasamy promises a story that will change listeners' outlooks on the world.


The finite within the infinite, the infinite within the finite.

Pi Patel, Part 1, Chapter 16

Pi describes Hinduism here and the mysteries of Hindu gods. He feels himself connected to the "world soul," a connection that gives meaning and context to his suffering. By imagining the infinite, like the numbers in mathematical Pi, he sees his place in the universe.


The agnostic ... [will] lack imagination and miss the better story.

Pi Patel, Part 1, Chapter 22

Pi respects faith, whether the faith is in religion or science. He rejects "doubt as a philosophy of life." Faith, he feels, takes imagination and courage, as well as a willingness to believe in something larger than oneself. Scientists have this belief as well, since they're open-minded to new discoveries. The doubt which characterizes agnosticism makes agnostics miss the discoveries they could have reached with a more open mind.


To me, religion is about our dignity, not our depravity.

Pi Patel, Part 1, Chapter 25

Pi struggles for dignity throughout his journey on the lifeboat. He suffers physical depravity and even resorts to cannibalism. But he prays for those he's killed and relies on religion for a sense of dignity and purpose. In this quote he's explaining how religion dictates his own behavior—faith makes him more sympathetic to people who are suffering, not (like other believers) angry at slights to God.


Why can't reason give greater answers?

Pi Patel, Part 2, Chapter 37

After he's lost his family and everything he loves at sea, Pi, naturally, wants an explanation. But there is none. He doesn't expect an answer to his question, and he never finds a satisfactory one, but eventually he accepts his situation.


Now I will turn miracle into routine. The amazing will be seen every day.

Pi Patel, Part 2, Chapter 53

Pi is determined to survive in seemingly impossible circumstances. Though he starves and nearly drowns, Pi sees many amazing things on the ship, like Richard Parker's successful training, the abundance of undersea life, and the algae island.


At moments of wonder, it is easy to avoid small thinking.

Pi Patel, Part 2, Chapter 85

Pi is nearly struck by lightning in the ocean, and the experience is transcendent. The concerns which have consumed him daily on the lifeboat—food, water, and staying out of danger—matter much less when he's confronted with the power of nature.


Isn't just looking upon this world already something of an invention?

Pi Patel, Part 3, Chapter 99

The book asks readers to consider whether reality is simply interpretations and perceptions, rather than an objective reality which is the same for everyone. Pi's seen people in his life experience similar realities but hold different perspectives, like the two Mr. Kumars observing the zebra. He thinks we all bring our own "invention" to our worlds, and he wants his story validated on those terms.


If you stumble at mere believability, what are you living for?

Pi Patel, Part 3, Chapter 99

Pi argues that the believability of his story is unrelated to its truth. Many of life's most essential experiences lack believability—the existence of life, the presence of God, and the force of love. Yet, like Pi's survival, all are real to the believers. Pi challenges Mr. Okamoto and Mr. Chiba's notion that believability is an essential element of truth.


Which story do you prefer? Which is the better story?

Pi Patel, Part 3, Chapter 99

Pi gives two accounts that could each explain his survival on the lifeboat. Neither will bring his family back nor explain the sinking of the ship, and neither can be proven—so the Japanese officials have no factual basis for their choice. The story with humans is macabre and tragic; the story with animals is far-fetched but triumphant. In the end the officials choose the story with animals, signaling their willingness to accept an unrealistic possibility and open their minds.

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