Study Guide

Life of Pi Religion

By Yann Martel


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 Life of Pi's protagonist believes passionately in both zoology and religion. Wait—what? Science and religion, together? What about the fact of multiple faiths? Don't these faiths contradict each other, cause wars, and other problems?

Not for Pi, who's Muslim, Christian, and Hindu – all at the same time. The book defends not only the common spirit behind these three religions, but the rituals and ceremonies of each. It's as if all three religions find harmonious common ground in this character. Seems unlikely, but then again, the protagonist argues passionately that the miraculous happens in our darkest moments.

Questions About Religion

  1. One beef atheists have with religious belief is that an all-powerful and benevolent God couldn't possibly allow evil. Wouldn't God stop evil things from happening? Does the fact of evil mean God isn't all-powerful? Or maybe God is not benevolent? How do you think Pi deals with this question? Or does he deal with it?
  2. Pi talks a lot about freedom in Part1, Chapter 4. Do you think religion makes Pi freer?
  3. In Part 1, Chapter 16, Pi discusses atman and Brahman, two aspects of the divine that always try to reach each other. Name some points during Pi's ordeal where you think atman, the divine in humans, meets Brahman saguna, the divine present in the world. Do you think there are points when the divine abandons Pi?
  4. The Catholic ritual of communion could be seen as somewhat cannibalistic. After all, believers do symbolically eat "the body of Christ." In what ways does Martel include cannibalism in this novel? Is it always a horrific, degrading thing? Or is it religious and sacred?