Life of Pi

Life of Pi

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Santosh Patel Character Analysis

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, but also to respect and fear wild animals. Santosh was raised a Hindu but is not religious, and he questions Pi’s religious devotion.

Santosh Patel Quotes in Life of Pi

The Life of Pi quotes below are all either spoken by Santosh Patel or refer to Santosh Patel. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Survival Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harcourt edition of Life of Pi published in 2001.
Chapter 23 Quotes

The pandit spoke first. “Mr. Patel, Piscine’s piety is admirable. In these troubled times it’s good to see a boy so keen on God. We all agree on that.” The imam and the priest nodded. “But he can’t be a Hindu, a Christian and a Muslim. It’s impossible. He must choose…”
“Hmmm, Piscine?” Mother nudged me. “How do you feel about the question?”
“Bapu Gandhi said, ‘All religions are true.’ I just want to love God,” I blurted out, and looked down, red in the face.

Related Characters: Piscine Molitor Patel (Pi) (speaker), Gita Patel (speaker), Gita Patel , Santosh Patel
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:

In this rather comedic scene, Pi--here, still a young man pre-shipwreck--goes with his parents to speak with his various religious leaders, who are concerned that Pi has dabbled in too many religions at once. Worried, the religious leaders insists that Pi must choose between them: Pi has been practicing as a Muslim, a Christian, and a Hindu all at once! Pi shyly insists that he sees the beauty in all religions, and just wants to love God--so why shouldn't he embrace them all at once?

Who's right here, Pi or the religious leaders? Most people choose one religion because it's enough to give them a sense of satisfaction and peace with regards to the universe's mysteries. Pi seems to have a looser, more experimental relationship with religion and truth, one based more on storytelling than fact. Pi recognizes that the stories of the various world religions have spiritual truth, even if they're not literally true. By the same token, Pi finds that he can embrace many different religions, looking past their literal rules to find true spiritual value. In short, Pi is a mystic and universalist who refuses any single identity--but he's surrounded by people who try to force him to choose one identity, thus excluding all others.


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Santosh Patel Character Timeline in Life of Pi

The timeline below shows where the character Santosh Patel appears in Life of Pi. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Religion and Faith Theme Icon share Mamaji’s love for the water and for the meditative practice of swimming. Pi’s father never wanted to swim himself, but he came to idealize the world of swimming. Mamaji’s... (full context)
Chapter 4
Storytelling Theme Icon
Pi’s father ran the Pondicherry Zoo, which was founded soon after Pondicherry entered the Union of India... (full context)
Chapter 8
Survival Theme Icon
Boundaries Theme Icon
One day Pi’s father decided to show Pi and his older brother Ravi about the dangers of wild animals.... (full context)
Chapter 9
Boundaries Theme Icon
...this by providing good shelter, food and water, and personal attention. Pi says that his father was a natural zookeeper. (full context)
Chapter 23
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Boundaries Theme Icon
...was just trying to love God. The religious leaders were embarrassed by this, and Pi’s father took advantage of their silence to hurry the family off to get ice cream. (full context)
Chapter 29
Storytelling Theme Icon
...troubles at first, as his world consisted of the zoo’s daily routines, but soon Pi’s father came to worry about the zoo’s future. (full context)
Chapter 48
Storytelling Theme Icon
...hunter gave to the cub, which was Thirsty (with the family name “None Given”). Pi’s father was so amused by this that he officially kept the tiger cub’s name as Richard... (full context)