Pi’s time on the algae island is one of the strangest, most surreal sections of the book. Pi comes across an island made entirely of algae and inhabited by thousands of docile meerkats. At first he thinks the place is a mirage or hallucination, but when he can actually stand on it he can’t help believing in the island’s existence. By day this island is a paradise, but Pi eventually learns that at night the algae turns acidic and deadly, devouring fish that swim nearby. Pi discovers a tree on the island with black and twisted “fruit” that turn out to be human teeth. He then comes to the awful realization that the island is carnivorous, and that it has eaten a human being before him.
The island acts as a religious symbol for Pi’s spiritual journey. In one sense it represents an easy, shallow kind of faith – it seems stable at first and promises worldly delights of food and comfort, but it has a treacherous underbelly. In another sense the island is a kind of “Garden of Eden,” a place where Pi loses his innocence (whatever he had left after experiencing so much horror). The island seems like an Edenic paradise at first, where the meerkats are tame and peaceful, but upon discovering the “Forbidden Fruit” of the teeth-tree, Pi gains knowledge of the evil the island is capable of. He leaves the place of his own accord, both rejecting an easy, treacherous faith and refusing to live in a spoiled paradise.
The Algae Island Quotes in Life of Pi
By the time morning came, my grim decision was taken. I preferred to set off and perish in search of my own kind than to live a lonely half-life of physical comfort and spiritual death on this murderous island.