Study Guide

Introduction & Overview of Life of Pi

This Study Guide consists of approximately 88 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Life of Pi.
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Life of Pi Summary & Study Guide Description

Life of Pi Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Bibliography and a Free Quiz on Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

What is faith? What is friendship? What is fiction? Life of Pi explores these questions in the tale of a devoutly religious Indian boy nicknamed Pi who becomes stranded on a lifeboat with an unrestrained 450-pound Bengal tiger as his only companion. Pi draws upon his knowledge of wild animal training—his father was a zookeeper back in India—to establish an uneasy peace between himself and the tiger, which he sees as his only possibility for survival.

The novel, published in the United States by Harvest/Harcourt, is a unique blend of religious exploration, practical zookeeping advice, meditation on the nature of truth, and shipwreck survival tale. It won both the 2002 Man Booker Prize and the 2001 Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and has sold over one million copies worldwide.

Life of Pi was inspired in part by a story written by renowned Brazilian author Moacyr Scliar. In Scliar's Max and the Cats, a young Jewish man flees Nazi Germany on a ship bound for Brazil, but when the boat sinks, he finds himself sharing a lifeboat with an unusual passenger: a jaguar formerly of the Berlin Zoo. Although the similarity between the two ideas generated some controversy after Martel's novel became a bestseller, both authors have acknowledged that the two books are quite different.

In an interview with Ray Suarez of Online NewsHour, Martel describes why the concept appealed to him as a writer:

Humans aspire to really high things … like religion, justice, democracy. At the same time, we're rooted in our human, animal condition. And so, all of those brought together in a lifeboat struck me as being … a perfect metaphor.

Critical and recreational readers agree. Life of Pi earned one of the most prestigious literary prizes in the English-speaking world, the Man Booker Prize, and has been a book-club favorite among both men and women ever since. The book's narrative, stylistic, and philosophical merits have made Pi and his creator literary stars.

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This section contains 327 words
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