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Life of Pi Notes and Background Information


Hunger and thirst The characters in Life of Pi are continually fixated on food and water ... is a true story that the author heard while backpacking through ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Life of Pi Notes and Background Information

Life of PiNotes and Background Information
Yann Martel
  • Born in 1963 to Canadian parents while living in
  • First published The Facts Behind the Helsinki
    Roccamatios, a collection of short stories
  • Writing career took off with Life of Pi
  • Won the Mann Booker prize awarded for best
    English-language novel written by a Commonwealth
    or Irish author
  • Translated into thirty languages
  • Screen rights purchased by Fox

Information about Pondicherry
  • India was a British colony for nearly 200 years.
  • However, Pondicherry was once the capital of
    French India and so it retains its French

Places in Pondicherry
Place de la Republic
Pondicherry Seafront
Aurobindo Ashram
Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
  • In 1975 Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was found
    guilty of charges related to her 1971 election
  • Because of unrest in India, she kept ruling and
    declared a state of emergencythis time period
    known as the Emergency period. It lasted 18
    months and ended in March 1977.
  • It was a controversial time period because she
    took away peoples rights and jailed her
    opponentsyet India was economically successful.
  • In Life of Pi, Pis father gets nervous about the
    possibility of Gandhi taking over his
    businessand so this causes him to make the
    decision to move to Canada.

Piscine Molitor Patel (Pi)
  • The protagonist of the story.
  • Piscine is the narrator for most of the novel,
    and his account of his seven months at sea forms
    the bulk of the story.
  • He gets his unusual name from the French word
    for pooland, more specifically, from a pool in
    Paris in which a close family friend, Francis
    Adirubasamy, loved to swim.
  • A student of zoology and religion, Pi is quite
    interested and intrigued by the habits and
    characteristics of animals and people.

The Author of the Story
  • Narrator of the (fictitious) Authors Note. He
    inserts himself into the narrative at several
    points throughout the text. (Watch for italic
  • Though the author who pens the Authors Note
    never identifies himself by name, there are many
    clues that indicate it is Life of Pi author Yann
    Martel himself.
  • Thinly disguised Martel lives in Canada, has
    published two books, and was inspired to write
    Pis life story during a trip to India.

Francis Adirubasamy
  • Elderly man who tells the author Pis story
    during a chance meeting at a Pondicherry coffee
  • Adirubasamy taught Pi, as a child, to swim and
    gave him his unusual moniker.
  • He arranges for the author to meet Pi in person,
    to get a first-hand account of his strange and
    compelling tale.
  • Pi calls Adirubasamy Mamaji, an Indian term
    meaning respected uncle.

Pis Family
  • Ravi is Pis popular older brother, who prefers
    sports to schoolwork.
  • He teases Pi about his devotion to three
    different religions
  • Santosh Patel is Pis father, who runs the
    Pondicherry Zoo.
  • He worries continuously and teaches his sons to
    fear animals.
  • Raised a Hindu but not a religious man. He is
    puzzled by Pis interest in three religions.
  • Difficult conditions in India prompt Santosh to
    move the family to Canada.

More Family Members
  • Gita Patel is Pis beloved mother and protector.
  • She loves books and encourages Pi to read widely.
  • Raised a Hindu with a Baptist education, Gita
    does not subscribe to any religion and questions
    Pis religious declarations.
  • Gita speaks her mind and lets Santosh know when
    she disagrees with his parenting ideas.

Satish Kumar
  • Pis atheist biology teacher at Petit Seminaire,
    a secondary school in Pondicherry.
  • Satish, a polio survivor, is an odd-looking man
    with a triangular-shaped body.
  • His devotion to the power of scientific inquiry
    and explanation inspires Pi to study zoology in

Father Martin
  • Catholic priest who introduces Pi to Christianity
    after Pi wanders into his church.
  • Father Martin preaches a message of love.
  • Father Martin, the Muslim Mr. Kumar, and the
    Hindu Pandit disagree about whose religion Pi
    should practice.

Satish Kumar (yes, again!)
  • A plain-featured Muslim mystic with the same name
    as Pis biology teacher.
  • Mr. Kumar works in a bakery.
  • Like the other Mr. Kumar, this man has a strong
    effect on Pis academic plans his faith leads Pi
    to study religion at college.

  • The Will to Live
  • The Importance of Storytelling
  • The Nature of Religious Belief

The Will to Live
  • Life of Pi is a story about struggling to survive
    through seemingly insurmountable odds
  • As Martel makes clear in his novel, living
    creatures will often do extraordinary,
    unexpected, and sometimes heroic things to
  • However, people will also do shameful and
    barbaric acts if pressed.

The Importance of Storytelling
  • The Importance of Storytelling
  • The novel is framed by a (fictional) note from
    the author who describes how he first came to
    hear the fantastic tale of Piscine Molitor Patel.
  • Within the framework of Martel's narration is
    Pi's fantastical first-person account of life on
    the open sea, which forms the bulk of the book.
  • At the end of the novel, a transcript taken from
    an interrogation of Pi reveals the possible
    true story within that story.

The Nature of Religious Belief
  • Life of Pi begins with an old man in Pondicherry
    who tells the narrator, I have a story that will
    make you believe in God.
  • Storytelling and religious belief are two closely
    linked ideas in the novel.
  • Each of Pi's three religions, Hinduism,
    Christianity, and Islam, come with its own set of
    tales and fables, which are used to spread the
    teachings and illustrate the beliefs of the
  • Stories and religious beliefs are also linked in
    Life of Pi because Pi asserts that both require
    faith on the part of the listener or devotee

  • Territorial dominance
  • Though Martel's text deals with the seemingly
    boundless nature of the sea, it also studies the
    strictness of boundaries, borders, and
  • Hunger and thirst
  • The characters in Life of Pi are continually
    fixated on food and water.
  • Ironically, the lifeboat is surrounded by food
    and water however, the salty water is
    undrinkable and the food is difficult to catch.
  • Ritual
  • characters achieve comfort through the practice
    of rituals

  • Pis name
  • Not just a shortened version of Piscine
  • Allegorical figure with multiple levels of
  • The color orange
  • symbolizes hope and survival

Point of View
  • Yann Martel wrote Life of Pi in a first person
  • Pi Patel tells his own story life through his
  • childhood, including 227 intriguing days
  • on a life raft.
  • As a traditional first person narrative, the
    information that the narrator knows -- the reader
    also knows. This is altered a little in Life of
    Pi because the story is recounted after the event
    so wisdom and hindsight are also a part of the

Narrative Structure
  • Frame story The fake Authors Note frames the
    rest of the story.
  • After the Authors Note, Life of Pi is written in
    three sections
  • the first is Pis childhood synopsis
  • the second is the 227-day journey across the
    ocean to North America
  • the third is his experience with the reporters
  • These formal elements help to define the
    different aspects of Pis character development
    and other things we will discuss.

Part One
  • The first section describes Pi as a little boy in
    both physical terms and developmental terms.
  • In this section, Martel describes a young boy
    amazed with the world and all that is in it.

Part Two
  • The next section of the novel is dedicated to the
    main mode of character development. This aspect
    of the novel describes the origin of Pis

Part Three
  • The last section of the novel represents Pis
    ultimate maturation, in which he is able to
    articulate lifes importance
  • It is in this section that the theme of the novel
    is communicated to the reader.

Purpose of Narrative Structure
  • Martel uses the form of the novel to delineate
    different parts to different areas of the / Pis
    developmental process
  • In this way, the theme is gradually introduced to
    the reader.
  • The reader can endure the same journey that Pi
  • The form of the novel is key to understanding the

Life of Pi can be classified as
  • postcolonial novel, because of its
    post-independence Indian setting as well as its
    Canadian authorship
  • a work of magical realism, because fantastical
    elementssuch as animals with human personalities
    or an island with cannibalistic treesappear in
    an otherwise realistic setting
  • a bildungsroman, a coming-of-age tale
  • an adventure story
  • It even flirts with nonfiction genres
  • the Author's Note claims that the story of Pi is
    a true story that the author heard while
    backpacking through Pondicherry
  • and the novel, with its first-person narrator, is
    structured as a memoir
  • at the end of the novel, look for interview
    transcripts, another genre of nonfiction writing

The Movie
  • Life Of Pi YouTube
  • Coming to a theater near you November 21, 2012.
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