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Life of Pi

Life of Pi

by Yann Martel

Spirituality Theme

This theme often brings to mind more ethereal subjects like the soul or the soul's rebirth. You'd be both right and wrong applying such lofty thoughts to Life of Pi. In this book, spirituality grounds itself in the everyday. The most ordinary activities take on a level of spiritual intensity (granted they happen in an extraordinary setting). Often, the protagonist describes – perhaps with a little jealousy – animals engaging their surroundings with an almost yogic discipline. Of course, this is not to say spirituality is always fun and games. Sometimes suffering and duress actually bring about the protagonist's spiritual insights. In fact, except for the protagonist's suffering, spirituality might have a more limited role in the novel.

Questions About Spirituality

  1. Pi seems to have many spiritual teachers in this book. Can you name a few? What does he learn from each teacher? Which of his spiritual teachers impact him the most? Why?
  2. Does Pi's suffering ever become so intense he can't learn anything from it? Does it become so all-enveloping he can't transcend it? Or does Pi continually sidestep despair?
  3. What do you think the author learns from Mamaji? Does the author's relationship with Mamaji mirror Pi's? Why or why not?
  4. Explain the spiritual relevance of the fantastical seaweed island. Does this island have anything to do with faith? Does Pi get too comfortable there?

Chew on This

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

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