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Life of Pi

Life of Pi


by Yann Martel

Life of Pi Part 1, Chapter 1 Summary

How It All Goes Down

  • We meet Pi Patel in this chapter. From now to Part 3, you hear Pi's voice (except for a few interruptions by the author). While he tells us a lot about his interests, and his studies in Toronto, we don't get too much of his story, or much about his childhood – yet.
  • Pi tells us he studied religion and zoology at the University of Toronto. Intriguing.
  • There's a long discussion of the three-toed sloth, which Pi thinks of as a being worthy of both scientific and spiritual inquiry.
  • We start to hear a little about Pi's suffering and how he lives with a kind of memento mori (a reminder of death). "What suffering?" you may ask. "Will he tell us later?" Yes. Pi also mentions God and types of thinkers he dislikes: for example, the agnostic.
  • Then he mentions Richard Parker. Pi says, "Richard Parker has stayed with me." From the flap of the book, you probably know Richard Parker is the tiger. And not just any tiger, but Pi's companion in a lifeboat for 227 days. Pi has "nightmares tinged with love." We're not sure if that's healthy.
  • More hints about the story. When Pi was recovering in Mexico, other patients hobbled into to Pi's room to hear his story. Pi talks about regaining his strength in the hospital.
  • At an Indian restaurant in Canada, the waiter teases Pi when he uses his hands to eat (as is the custom in India) and says, "Fresh off the boat, are you?" Of course, this means more than the waiter intended.

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