Life of Pi

Life of Pi

Themes and Colors
Survival Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Boundaries Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Life of Pi, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Much of the action of Life of Pi consists of the struggle for survival against seemingly impossible odds. Pi is stranded on a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific for 227 days, with only an adult Bengal tiger for company, so his ordeal involves not just avoiding starvation but also protecting himself from Richard Parker. Pi is soon forced to give up his lifelong pacifism and vegetarianism, as he has to kill and…

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Francis Adirubasamy first presents Pi’s tale to the fictional author as “a story to make you believe in God,” immediately introducing religion as a crucial theme. Pi is raised in a secular, culturally Hindu family, but as a boy he becomes more devoutly Hindu and then also converts to Christianity and Islam. He practices all of these religions at once despite the protests of his three religious leaders, who each assert that their religion…

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The nature of storytelling itself is threaded throughout Life of Pi, as the book is told in a complex way through several layers of narration. The real author writes in the first person as a fictional author similar to Yann Martel himself, and this author retells the story he heard from the adult Pi about Pi’s younger self. At the end, in a transcript of an interview which the author provides, the young Pi…

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The situation of much of the novel is a contradiction between boundaries and freedom. Pi is surrounded by the boundless ocean and sky but is trapped in a tiny lifeboat, and within that lifeboat he has his own clear territory separate from Richard Parker. Pi marks his territory – the raft and the top of the tarpaulin – with his urine and “training whistle,” and Richard Parker has his territory on the floor of…

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