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Quotes

Quote #1

My majors were religious studies and zoology. My fourth-year thesis for religious studies concerned certain aspects of the cosmogony theory of Isaac Luria, the great sixteenth-century Kabbalist from Safed. My zoology thesis was a functional analysis of the thyroid gland of the three-toed sloth. I chose the sloth because its demeanor – calm, quiet and introspective – did something to soothe my shattered self. (1.1.2)

Martel couldn't mix science and religion any more conspicuously: "My majors were religious studies and zoology." But he does subtly intermingle the two in the sentences that follow. Isaac Luria is a mystic but he's also obsessed with how the universe began, which happens to be a scientific endeavor. The thyroid glands of three-toed sloths clearly sounds like zoology. The demeanor of the sloth, however, adds spiritual interest. Pi can't stay away from religion. He also can't stay away from science.

Quote #2

I never had problems with my fellow scientists. Scientists are a friendly, atheistic, hard-working, beer-drinking lot whose minds are preoccupied with sex, chess and baseball when they are not preoccupied with science. (1.1.9)

Pi has just criticized his fellow religious-studies students for being "muddled agnostics" and "in the thrall of reason." Here he praises his fellow scientists. Does Pi consider science a type of faith? What is it that he admires about his scientist friends? And why does he have such a distaste for agnosticism?

Quote #3

The pink boy got the nod from the Rhodes Scholarship committee. I love him and I hope his time at Oxford was a rich experience. If Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, one day favours me bountifully, Oxford is fifth on the list of cities I would like to visit before I pass on, after Mecca, Varanasi, Jerusalem and Paris. (1.1.11)

Oxford is a world center for scholarship. Jerusalem is the holy city for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Mecca is where the prophet Muhammad was born. Hindus regard Varanasai as a holy city. Paris houses the pool Pi was named after. How do these cities relate to Pi's obsessions? Do these cities inform each other? For example, does the juxtaposition of Oxford next to these holy cities give science and scholarship a little bit of a halo? Just a tiny one?

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