Life of Pi

Life of Pi

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Piscine Molitor Patel (Pi)

The novel’s protagonist, Pi is born in Pondicherry, India and raised among wild animals, as his father is a zookeeper. Pi gets his unusual name from a famous swimming pool in Paris. He has a… (read full character analysis)

Richard Parker

A three-year-old male royal Bengal tiger who is Pi’s companion on the lifeboat. Richard Parker was captured as a cub by a hunter named Richard Parker, but in the accompanying paperwork the tiger’s… (read full character analysis)

The Author

A fictional Canadian author who resembles Yann Martel, the novel’s real author. Like Martel, the “author” has also published two books and was inspired to write Pi’s story while traveling in India. The author… (read full character analysis)

Gita Patel

Pi’s mother. Gita is raised a Hindu and had a Baptist education, but she is nonreligious as an adult and questions Pi’s faith. Gita encourages Pi to read books as a youth. In Pi’s… (read full character analysis)

Santosh Patel

Pi’s father and the head of the Pondicherry Zoo. He once ran a hotel but then switched to zookeeping because of his love of animals. Santosh teaches Pi and Ravi his knowledge about zookeeping… (read full character analysis)
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Francis Adirubasamy

A friend of the Patel family who was a champion swimmer in his youth. Pi calls him Mamaji, which means “respected uncle,” and Mamaji teaches Pi to swim and to love the water. He… (read full character analysis)

Satish Kumar (1)

Pi’s biology teacher at Petit Séminaire, his school in Pondicherry. Mr. Kumar is a polio survivor with a triangle-shaped body. He is a staunch atheist, and enjoys going to the Pondicherry Zoo to admire… (read full character analysis)

Tomohiro Okamoto

An official from the Maritime Department of the Japanese Ministry of Transport, Okamoto is sent to interview Pi in Mexico and investigate the sinking of the Tsimtsum. He is skeptical of Pi’s first (animal)… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
Ravi Patel
Pi’s older brother, a boy who loves sports and teases Pi about his name and his religious devotion. Ravi ignores Pi and keeps sleeping on the night of the shipwreck.
Satish Kumar (2)
A Muslim baker and Sufi mystic, this second Mr. Kumar teaches Pi about Islam and eventually converts him. Mr. Kumar goes to the zoo and praises God for the wonder of the animals.
The Hyena
An ugly, violent animal who is one of the lifeboat’s initial inhabitants. The hyena eats the zebra’s leg and then starts eating its insides while the zebra is still alive. The hyena later kills Orange Juice, but is killed and eaten by Richard Parker.
The Zebra
A male Grant’s zebra, a beautiful, exotic animal who breaks its leg jumping into the lifeboat. It suffers greatly at the hyena’s hands before finally dying.
Orange Juice
A peaceful, maternal orangutan who had given birth to two sons at the Pondicherry Zoo. She floats to the lifeboat on an island of bananas, and fights the hyena bravely before being killed.
Father Martin
A kind Christian priest who teaches Pi about Jesus and converts him.
Meena Patel
Pi’s wife, whom the author briefly meets.
Nikhil Patel
Pi’s son, who plays baseball.
Usha Patel
Pi’s daughter, who is shy but close with her father.
The Blind Castaway
A man whom Pi meets in the middle of the Pacific. The castaway is also blind and starving on a lifeboat. He has a French accent and is possibly the cook from the Tsimtsum. The castaway tries to kill and eat Pi, but he is killed by Richard Parker.
Atsuro Chiba
Okamoto’s assistant, a naïve and bumbling official who exasperates Okamoto with his inexperience.
The French Cook
The human correspondent to the hyena. The cook is rude and violent, and he eats the sailor and kills Pi’s mother, but then lets himself be stabbed by Pi.
The Chinese Sailor
The human counterpart to the zebra. The sailor is young, beautiful, and speaks only Chinese. He breaks his leg and it becomes infected. The cook cuts off the leg and the sailor dies painfully.
Mrs. Gandhi
Indira Gandhi, the leader of India during the time when Pi lived in India.
Auntie Rohini
The sister of Pi's mother, who encouraged Pi in his interest in Hinduism.