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Themes

In his essay "How I Wrote Life of Pi," Yann Martel says, "I had neither family nor career to show for my 33 years on Earth. [...]. I was in need of a story. More than that, I was in need of a Story." Martel's novel is full of ruminations on writing and the meaning writing and literature give to our lives. In fact, Martel's character, Pi, argues we should choose the most compelling story when we have no confirmation of actual events. Suspicious? Intrigued? You've fallen right into Martel's trap.

Questions About Literature and Writing

  1. What do you think actually happened in the lifeboat? What does your answer say about the power of fiction? (Over you, at least.)
  2. Have you ever read a very skillfully written novel that failed to move you? Do you agree with Martel in the "Author's Note" that passion in writing is just as important as skill?
  3. Unravel – and this might be pretty messy – the connections between belief and fiction in the novel. How does Martel intertwine the two? Should they be wound up together in this big, bright ball of yarn?
  4. Should Pi's various and conflicting stories make us question his reliability? Does it really matter, or is the story we get in the end all that all that is important?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.
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