Entertainment & Media

The Life of Pi

By Augustine Magapan

Volume 2 Issue 5

March 28, 2022

The Life of Pi

Image provided by MARCA

On March 14th we celebrate Pi Day because Pi, a numerical value of 3.14159265358979323 and so on, is represented as 3/14. Although Pi Day revolves around the concept of an irrational number used to find the area and circumference of a circle, we will be celebrating a story that also has the name “Pi”. We will commemorate the story, “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel.

I, myself, have not read the book; however, I have watched the movie. With a strong rating and having the name “Pi”, I could not leave this out of the new issue for North Star. In the movie, it initially starts in Canada where a writer interviews a man named Pi about his life story in order to understand religious faith. Firstly, the Canadian writer originally heard of Pi from Pi’s so-called uncle, Mamaji, a family-friend who enjoyed swimming in pools. He asks Pi why he is named “Pi” as in the number 3.14. However, Pi responds saying that ‘Pi’ isn’t his real name; instead, he was named Piscine Molitor Patel, because of the recognition of his uncle who was also a champion swimmer that told many stories and one of them happened to be the Piscine Molitor which is a swimming pool in Paris. Throughout Pi’s childhood, he was raised in Pondicherry, India where his father was a businessman who owned a zoo. As Pi was growing up, people referred to him as “Pissing” Patel due to the phonetic sound of his birth name. As Pi continues to get bullied at school for his nickname, he changes it to Pi, short for Piscine. It is not as recognizable, and he explains to other students in future grades that it represents the 16th letter of the Greek alphabet and the number 3.14. As time progresses even further in Pi’s academic career, he earns the respect of his fellow classmates for knowing an abundance of numbers after 3.14 of Pi which impresses the Canadian author.

Although Pi changing from “Pissing” to Pi led the Canadian author into marvel, the author wanted Pi to convince him that God exists; consequently, Pi moved on from his academic and origins of his childhood to his religious understanding. Pi stated that at birth, he was a Hindu. He learned the virtues of Hinduism until he went to Munnar and learned Christianity. One day Ravi, Pi’s brother, dared Pi to go drink the holy water in a Church in Munnar. Pi soon did it and was encountered by a priest. Afterwards the priest gave Pi water since he saw he was thirsty. Pi asked why God would send his own son to atone the sins of the innocent people. The priest replied that it was because he loved us. Pi was astonished and talked to the priest more and more and thanked the Hindu gods that he is learning about new religions and practices.

When Pi went back to India, he discovered Muslim and started practicing the traditions by kneeling and putting his head on the floor that was “holy”; furthermore, he learned Arabic to increase his religious morality. After understanding the concept of God by learning multiple religions, Pi then used those practices every day. One day during dinner, Pi prayed for his food while the rest of his family did not. He was made fun of by his brother and his father told him that learning multiple religions would overlap and ultimately cancel out the religious spirit inside of Pi. Pi ignored his father and continued to practice and empower his religious mindset every day. For example, he wanted to feed a tiger named Richard Parker, who was supposed to be named Thirsty since the hunter found the tiger as a cub at first drinking water, but the papers got switched up where the hunter was named Thirsty and the tiger named Richard Parker. As Richard Parker got close to Pi when he was feeding him, Pi got caught by his father; consequently, Pi gets scolded. Pi told his father that animals also have souls and that we should respect them, but his father responded that they are not friends and that they are dangerous. His father then demonstrates that animals are dangerous by placing a goat in front of Richard Parker. Afterwards, the tiger violently kills the goat, scarring Pi. The demonstration Pi’s father made led him to feel bored and unhappy with his life. Until one day, he meets a girl named Anandi. Pi was invited to play music for the practice of dancers in India since the person who usually plays the music was absent. While Pi played the music for the women who were practicing dance, the teacher got upset that they weren’t doing well; therefore, Anandi, one of the dancers, led them. Pi became attracted to her where soon started to follow her everywhere she went. One day, he got caught by her and he asked about why she did a certain position even though it was not in the dance routine. This made Anandi interested in Pi where they both talked about religion for the rest of their time together. Unfortunately, Pi’s family had to sell their zoo since they were moving to Canada for a better life. This affected Pi greatly, since he had to say goodbye to Anandi right after they met. Pi then boards a boat that takes him and his family all the way to Canada along with other passengers and the animals from the zoo. While being on the boat, Pi struggles with the racism inside the boat from the French people; fortunately, some of the passengers were immigrants and dealt with the same issue. As the boat continues on the journey, Pi goes outside quarters on a stormy night seeing that the ship is damaged and about to sink. Struggling to stay on the boat, Pi and a few animals are the only ones that evacuate the ship leaving everyone else dead. A few days afterwards, Pi is stranded with an orangutan, hyena, zebra, and Richard Parker. Throughout their time in the boat, they all die one by one leaving Pi with Richard Parker. Pi then needs to focus on learning how to take care of himself and dealing with Richard Parker on a small boat.

The movie continues where Richard Parker and Pi are still stranded on the boat struggling to survive with limited supplies. In order to survive together, they must learn how to communicate with each other and persevere or else they will die in a shameful way. Pi lost everything he has and only has God and the tiger. Will he make it out alive or go down hopelessly? Read or watch the story to find out!