Study Guide

Pilu & His Family in Nation

By Terry Pratchett

Pilu & His Family

If you have to be shipwrecked, you'd definitely want your family with you. Right? Right?? Well, it seems to work for Pilu & co.

A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts

Pilu, his brother Milo, and Milo's pregnant wife Cahle arrive on the island not long after the tidal wave. Milo's the strong silent type, so we don't have much to say about him. Cahle is an invaluable mentor to Daphne, but she's fairly quiet and reserved too. Pilu's the one who does all the talking, and, naturally, he's the one we're going to talk the most about.

Pilu knows the most about trouserman culture, explaining to Mau their customs and beliefs. But it's hard to get a read on what Pilu himself really believes in, because he's just so happy. Even after Mau makes him cry (by badmouthing the gods), Pilu bounces back quickly. Mau describes him as though he "floated through life like a coconut on the ocean. He always bobbed up. There was some sort of natural spring of cheerfulness that bubbled to the surface. [...] It was as if someone had put a dog's brain in a boy's body" (6.124).

That's great, Mau. Very sensitive. As though happiness is only for animals! (Oh, wait. We mean—come on, Mau. It's not nice to compare people to dogs.)

Island Home Companion

Pilu's super power is his ability to tell stories as though he's painting with words. When he narrates the story of Mau and the shark, Daphne can practically "[feel] the shark brush past her. [...] She had been there. She had seen it. Pilu's voice had shown it to her" (8.55). He's unlike anything the people have ever heard before.

You know what people are also great storytellers? Preachers. Televangelists like Joel Osteen and Pat Robertson have huge followings in part because they're such persuasive and charismatic speakers.

Unlike Ataba, though, who tries to convince people through fear rather than persuasion, Pilu can get people to believe in anything, a dangerous skill if in the wrong hands (or mouths, as the case may be). Mau says that Pilu "began with the truth and then he hammered it out until it was very thin and gleamed" (12.85). In plain language? He stretches the truth.

Even though Mau doesn't really believe in what Pilu preaches, he sees the benefit of it: "If a lie will make us strong, a lie will be my weapon. [...] People want lies to live by" (12.100).

Hm. We're not so sure about that.