Pi Patel

Pi Patel

    Life of Pi
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Grew Up... in India, as a practicing Hindu-Christian-Muslim with a deep respect for animals. Although it confuses his classmates, Pi sees no contradiction in his religious views. As a young Pi prays, "thank you Vishnu, for introducing me to Christ."

Living... on a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean, with a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan – and a tiger. When Pi's zookeeper parents decide to sail to Canada, they bring their animals on the ship with them. The trip goes well – until a sudden storm hits, leaving Pi and the animals the only survivors.

Profession... student, and a good one. As a child, Pi proved himself worthy of his nickname when he managed to recite several hundred digits of the irrational number. But school wasn't the only place Pi turned to for education: hanging out at mosques and tagging after his father has given the teenager an extensive education in religion and animal psychology. Now, however, Pi must use all his intelligence and knowledge to face the greatest test of all: survival.

Interests... philosophy, math, and animals. While Pi isn't bad at athletics, most of his hobbies are decidedly cerebral. Pi's a fast learner, but if he wants any chance of survival, then he's going to have to learn a lot more – and soon.  

Relationship Status... single. And seeing as he's stuck on a lifeboat with several zoo animals, Pi's chances at romance aren't exactly high.

Challenge... somehow surviving. Even discounting Richard Parker, the Bengali tiger he's traveling with, Pi is stuck on a lifeboat with scarce food and no fresh water. And unless a ship or an island comes suddenly appears, Pi is sure that unless he "learn[s] to catch fish," Richard Parker's "last meal would be a skinny vegetarian boy."

Personality... philosophical, compassionate, and resilient. While most sixteen-year-olds panic at the thought of asking a girl out, Pi handles being orphaned and shipwrecked surprisingly well. There's panic, yes, but Pi quickly pulls himself together, forcing himself to find food, collect rainwater, and focus on the hardest part of survival: not losing hope.


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