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Themes

There's an interesting blurring of divisions between man and the natural world in Life of Pi. Human beings become more animalistic; animals become more human. The novel warns against projecting human values onto the animal world. However, the novel also admits it's impossible to experience anything without a way-of-being. The trick, therefore, is to make concessions to other species. Animals in the zoo, while essentially retaining their instincts, take on certain domestic, human-like traits. Human beings in the wild, while still retaining a few human traits, become more animalistic. Through this exchange human beings may learn – dare we say it – a spiritual truth or two about themselves and the natural world.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Does Richard Parker seem more savage than Pi? Is Richard Parker more spiritually attuned than Pi?
  2. Think of all the times Pi mentions "the eating of flesh." How does he characterize this act?
  3. Explain how Pi could call the mako and blue sharks swimming below him "beautiful."
  4. Which settings in the book are "man-made"? Which are "natural"?

Chew on This

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