‘Life of Pi’ Ending Explained

Published 1 year ago by , Updated February 19th, 2014 at 10:25 am,

Life of Pi Ending Explained Life of Pi Ending Explained

Ang Lee’s Life of Pi is racking-up critical acclaim (read our review) and pre-award season buzz along with solid box office numbers. Though, for every mention of the film’s beautiful 3D or amazing CGI tiger, there’s a fuddled viewer confused by the movie’s controversial ending.

Readers of Yann Martel’s original novel (the ones who made it to the end) have already faced the challenging last-minute question presented by the story’s narrator, but filmgoers expecting a fanciful adventure at sea have been understandably caught off-guard by the finale. No doubt, viewers will debate the ending with friends and family – but to help steer discussion we’ve put together a brief analysis of the Life of Pi ending, explaining why the final question may not be as cut and dry as some moviegoers seem to think.

It goes without saying that the remainder of this article will contain MAJOR SPOILERS for Life of Pi - the movie and the book (especially the ending). If you do not want to be spoiled about either, turn away now.

Life of Pi Shipwreck Life of Pi Ending Explained

For anyone who hasn’t seen (or read) Life of Pi and isn’t concerned about having the ending spoiled, Pi’s adventure concludes in a Mexican hospital bed – where he is interviewed by a pair of Japanese Ministry of Transport officials. The agents tell Pi that his story – which includes multiple animal companions and a carnivorous island – is too unbelievable for them to report, so Pi tells them a different version of the story: one that paints a much darker and emotionally disturbing variation of events. After both stories have been shared, Pi leaves it up to the viewer (or reader) to decide which version they “prefer.”

Personal “preference” has larger thematic meaning, when viewed in the context of the overarching story; however, before we analyze the ending (via the question) in greater detail, we’re going to briefly lay out the two versions of Pi’s story.

In both accounts, Pi’s father contracts a Japanese ship to transport his family, along with a number of their zoo animals, from India to Canada in an effort to escape political upheaval in their native country. The stories are identical up until Pi climbs aboard the lifeboat (following the sinking of the cargo ship) only re-converging when he is rescued on the Mexican shore. The 227 days that Pi spends lost at sea are up for debate.

Life of Pi Richard Parker Life of Pi Ending Explained

The Animal Story

In this version of Pi’s tale, the cargo ship sinks and, during the ensuing chaos, he is joined on the lifeboat by a ragtag group of zoo animals that also managed to escape: an orangutan, a spotted hyena, a zebra with a broken leg, and a Bengal Tiger (named Richard Parker). After some time, Pi watches helplessly as the hyena kills the zebra and then the orangutan before it is, subsequently, dispatched by Richard Parker. Pi then sets about conditioning the tiger through rewarding behavior (food and fresh water), so that the two can co-exist in the boat. Though Pi succeeds, the pair remain on the verge of starvation – until, after several months at sea, they wash ashore an uncharted island packed with fresh vegetation and a bountiful meerkat population. Pi and Richard Parker stuff themselves, but soon discover that the island is home to a carnivorous algae that, when the tide arrives, turns the ground to an acidic trap. Pi realizes that eventually the island will consume them – so he stocks the lifeboat with greens and meerkats and the pair sets sail again. When the lifeboat makes landfall along the Mexican coast, Pi and Richard Parker are once again malnourished – as Pi collapses on the beach, he watches the Bengal Tiger disappear into the jungle without even glancing back.

Pi is brought to a hospital – where he tells the animal story to the Japanese officials. However, when the agents do not believe his tale, the young survivor tells a different version of his journey.

Life of Pi Suraj Sharma Boat Life of Pi Ending Explained

The Human Story

In this version of Pi’s tale the cargo ship still sinks, but instead of the ragtag group of animals in the lifeboat, Pi claims that he was joined by his mother (Gita), the ship’s despicable cook, and an injured Japanese sailor. After some time, fearing for the limited supplies in the boat, the cook kills the weakened Japanese sailor, and later, Gita. Scarred from watching his mother die in front of his eyes, Pi kills the cook in a moment of self-preservation (and revenge).

Pi does not mention his other adventures at sea (the carnivorous island, etc) but it’d be easy to strip away some of the fantastical elements in favor of more grounded (albeit allegorical) situations. Maybe he found an island but realized that living is more than just eating and existing – deciding to take his chances at sea instead of wasting away in apathy on a beach eating meerkats all alone. Of course, that is purely speculation – since, again, Pi does not elaborate on the more grounded human story beyond the revelation that he was alone on the lifeboat.

Life of Pi Whale Life of Pi Ending Explained

The Ending Explained

Even if the connection between the lifeboat parties was missed, the writer makes the connection for the audience (or readers): the hyena is the cook, the orangutan is Pi’s mother, the zebra is the sailor, and Richard Parker is Pi. However, the film’s juxtaposition of the animal story and the human story has led many moviegoers to view the last-minute plot point as a finite “twist” – which was not the original intention of Martel (with the book) or very likely Lee (with the film). Viewers have pointed to the look of anguish on Pi’s face during his telling of the human story in the film as “proof” that he was uncomfortable facing the true horror of his experience. However, the novel takes the scene in the opposite direction, with Pi expressing annoyance at the two men – criticizing them for wanting “a story they already know.” Either way, much like the ending of Inception (read our explanation of that ending), there is no “correct” answer – and Life of Pi intentionally leaves the question unanswered so that viewers (and readers) can make up their own mind.

Facing the final question, it can be easy to forget that, from the outset, The Writer character was promised a story that would make him believe in God. In the first part of the narrative, we see Pi struggling to reconcile the differences between faith interpretations (Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam) – acknowledging that each of them contained valuable elements, even if they tell different stories (elements that together help him survive his ordeal at sea regardless of whether or not he was there with a tiger).

As a result, the larger question is impossible to answer definitively and, as mentioned, the “truth” of Pi’s story is of little concern to Martel or Lee. The real question is – which story do you, the viewer/reader prefer? Interpretation is subjective but the question is intended to serve as a moment of theological reflection. Are you a person that prefers to believe in things that always make sense/things that you can see? Or are you a person that prefers to believe in miracles/take things on faith? There are no right or wrong answers – just an opportunity for introspection.

Life of Pi Island Life of Pi Ending Explained

Pi is faced with a heavy challenge: telling a story that will make a person believe in God. Some listeners might remain unconvinced but in the case of The Writer, who openly admits that he prefers the story with the tiger, and the Japanese officials, who in their closing report remarked on the feat of “surviving 227 days at sea… especially with a tiger,” Pi successfully helps skeptics overcome one of the largest hurdles to faith – believing in the unbelievable.

Since Pi marries The Writer’s preference for the Tiger story with the line, “and so it goes with God,” it’s hard to separate the question entirely from theology. Evidenced by his multi-religion background, Pi does not believe that any of the world’s religions are a one-stop shop for the truth of God – and his goal is not to convert anyone to a specific dogma. Instead, his story is set up to help viewers/readers consider which version of the world they prefer – the one where we make our own way and suffer through the darkness via self-determination, or the one where we are aided by something greater than ourselves (regardless of which version of “God” we may accept).

That said, aside from all the theological implications, and regardless of personal preference, it’s insular to view the ending as simply a dismissal of everything that Pi had previously described (and/or experienced) – since, in keeping with his view that every religious story has worthwhile parts, a third interpretation of the ending could be that the “truth” is a mix of both stories. Like Pi and his three-tiered faith routine, the viewer/reader can always pick and choose the parts that benefit their preferred version of the tale.

Life of Pi Suraj Sharma Life of Pi Ending Explained

The “truth”: Pi survived for 227 days at sea, married the girl of his dreams, had children, and lived to tell two stories.

Like any quality piece of entertainment, a lot of this is subjective and there are multiple ways of interpreting the Life of Pi ending, so feel free to (respectfully) share your interpretation with fellow moviegoers in the comment section below.

For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant editors check out our Life of Pi episode of the SR Underground podcast.

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Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for more on Life of Pi as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.

Life of Pi is now playing in theaters everywhere. It is Rated PG for emotional thematic content throughout, and some scary action sequences and peril.

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2,794 Comments - Comments are closed.

  1. Ok just a quick question if he really is the tiger then why did the cook eat the Chinese man if there was food on the boat? And what happen to the food when if he was alone wasn’t he only on the raft with the food if the tiger was actually present ?

    • Hello Francisco. You do really want to know? Well, if you must. It is because the cook was worried about the future. The cook could not predict how long they were going to be floating on the Pacific Ocean or now long their supplies would last, but he could predict that the dead body of the sailor was only going to be edible for a few hours without refrigeration.

      I did not understand your second question, so I cannot offer an explanation. I’m sorry.

  2. no one mentioned the many parallels between the bible ….letsdiscuss the ship with animals (noahs ark) the lush floating island which kinda sounds like the story of adam and eve and the temptation that lures Pi but deep down knowing its dangerous, the whale…..etc….i have one side note to mention that lends itself towards believing in the animal version of te story….if Pi becomes like the tiger and his carnivorous side is unleashed and he killed the cook….then why is it that later on thestory he expressed such sorrow and sadness when he killed the fish with the axe…..you dont go from killing a person and witnessing such terror to feeling sorow for killing the fish….it doesnt work that way…..lets say the humanversion is true and his mom died….i highly doubt he would have been so upset about the fish.

  3. I did not read the book, so I apologize if this is explained better there. My main problem with the second story is the timing of the cannibalism. It sounds as if all of the deaths happened early on, within days to a week or two. And the animals died very quickly in the other version as well so I’m assuming this is not long after the wreck. I have no problem believing the Pi would have killed the cook at this point, especially after seeing his mother murdered. I also get that it was the survivalist instinct or ‘tiger’ coming out in Pi in the other story.

    However, it seems that we are to assume that Pi ate the cook, which I don’t buy this early on. Assuming the two stories are roughly parallel, at this point there is still a ton of food left. I think Pi even mentions that the cook didn’t need to eat the rat or use the sailor as bait, but he did it anyway. So, why would vegetarian Pi need to eat the cook? Again, assuming the stories are similar in other aspects, Pi didn’t lose the biscuits until much later with the whale.

    I would understand him eating a person way later on, when he was truly starving, but not in the beginning with another source of food. And I know there was some reference the body being dried in the sun, so possibly it is implied that the body was there a long time, but I find that odd as well. Maybe I’m missing something.

    • Hello again Francisco. I’m not sure that there is a need for absolute parallelism in the time dimension between the two stories, but you make a good point in bringing the issue up to be considered. I like how you think. You are inquisitive and analytical. Good for you! I think that it is important to remember what Pi said when he started trying to catch fish. Why did Pi try to catch fish in the first place if Pi could survive on biscuits? Pi said that he could survive by eating biscuits, but that Richard Parker was carnivorous and needed to eat in the range of 5 kilograms of meat per day. If we accept that Pi is one dimension of the whole human being and Richard Parker is another dimension of the same whole human being, then we must conclude that the whole human being [i.e., Pi + Richard Parker] could not possibly survive on biscuits alone, hence the need to eat meat. Catching and giving fish to Richard Parker to eat is probably a metaphor for Pi’s cannibalizing the cook. And in my explanation to your earlier question, I think that the fact that flesh does not preserve long without refrigeration could also explain the rush to consume it even if there were other food stores available that could preserve longer. Does this explanation make sense to you?

      By the way, did you catch the parallelism between what the priest said to Pi the first time in the church and what the hunter thought of the tiger cub when he first saw it in the jungle? The priest said to Pi, “You must be THIRSTY”. The hunter saw the tiger cub drinking in the stream and gave him the name, “THIRSTY”. Is it a coincidence that Pi was also a “cub” when he first went into the church to drink the Holy Water? From that early on the author is giving us clues that Pi and Richard Parker are dimensions of the same entity. Isn’t this cool?

      • Great catch Hector!

    • Francisco, did you know that Richard Parker was a character in Edgar Allan Poe’s novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket? In Poe’s novel, Richard Parker is a sailor that was on a shipwreck with three other survivors (same number of survivors as in Life of Pi, assuming that Pi and the tiger are aspects of the same entity), and the other three survivors cannibalize him (the sailor Richard Parker). What do you make of this? Is it not an interesting question why Richard Parker is the other cannibal in Life of Pi, but it is the object of cannibalism in Edgar Allan Poe’s novel? I’m sure it’s not a coincidence that Martel chose to call his tiger Richard Parker.

    • To simply put it. Do you not recall the cook using the other man for bait. And then at one point Pi fishing for food for the tiger….. think about it lol.

      • You’re right! :-) Pi did say that the cook used the sailor for bait, but Pi also said that that wasn’t all that the sailor went the same way as the rat, i.e., eaten! ;-)

    • I think a lot if people don’t understand this movie and that’s a shame but its intended that way. Once you look at it as a story u will understand the hidden meaning behind it. I wish I could tell you the true meaning but all I can say is you have to understand how to let God into your heart and give your life to God.

    • I think a lot if people don’t understand this movie and that’s a shame but its intended that way. Once you look at it as a story you will understand the hidden meaning behind it. I wish I could tell you the true meaning but all I can say is you have to understand how to let God into your heart and give your life to God.

  4. I remembered that Pi started praying after killing the fish for the tiger(himself) and realising that he could do to the fish what he could not do to the tiget. To me it’s like saying the world is made such that you’ll have to inflict cruelty in order to survive and religion is just a way people reconcile this dissonance.

  5. I don t believe in any of the two stories cause both can be false. and the question is not what story do you believe more but what story do you prefer, I dont prefer any I dont believe neither anyone.
    Have seen than whe the tiger jump out to catch the hiena this dissapear of sight and then tiger walk arond the zebra dead body and walk clearly behind it showing that the hiena bidy is not there of course thats a blooper.

  6. In this end explanation you are not considering that any of the stories you pick they both have the same objetive this is mean that being lost in the ocean for almost a year wheter whith a tiger or people both stories are unbelievable so surviving in any case force you to think what he want. this is to believe in God. (I dont need a film to be sure of God I m sure indeed )

  7. The “real” story at sea is the one featuring the cook, his mother, etc.. The real miracle is hidden. You do not have to believe that Pi survived with a Tiger for all that time to have faith. To survive that long at sea, ultimately alone, that is the true miracle.

    • Good point Rich! It is a miracle if you believe in miracles, or if you are talking figuratively. By the same token, Pi’s survival may have been due to his endurance, ingenuity, and luck. No one can prove which explanation might be true, but let’s not forget that this movie and the book that it is based on are fiction. Most people on this website have forgotten or did not pay attention to the fact that this story is not biographical nor based on a true story. In this sense, it is no different than the story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Its value lies in its ability to inspire us to become better people and to help us understand and appreciate the highly subjective reality that each one of us lives. Would you not agree?

      • Good response again , Hector
        We think alike. What and how we believe is the deeper part. It is just a story, not a documentary, but it brings up a lot of Contemplation.
        My open minded belief is (I hope) there is a very Etherial God ( not an imaginary Father image) and I believe (hope) that there is some kind of Etherial existence after death . That pretty well sums it up. That is what religions are all about. That and teaching each Religions Cultural Moral Philosophy.

        • Hi Gary. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. We do think alike. I am an atheism-leaning agnostic, and I don’t believe in life after death. I believe in the soul, but I don’t believe that the soul is immortal. I believe that humans have the capacity for goodness and morality. I believe that life is a characteristic of our universe just as hydrogen fusion is. And I believe that our universe recycles matter; so when we die, the matter that makes up our bodies will be recycled. In this sense, I believe in life after death. If we have children, a real, physical part of us lives on. If we don’t have children, our molecules will live on as part of other living creatures or go back to the universe. The elements that make up our bodies were created in the hearts of stars and in the explosions of starts. We are made up of start stuff. We are the children of the stars. In a deeper sense, we are the universe itself that has woken up and acquired consciousness, and upon looking at itself asks in wonderment, “Who am I?”, “Why am I here?”, “Where am I going?”, “What’s the purpose of my existence?”. And the amazing thing is that there are no answers to these questions. The universe is God. Therefore, it just “is”. I don’t hope that something will be revealed after death. I don’t hope that the wrongs will be righted after death. I wish that we all focused our energies on learning more, discovering more, and revealing more things during our life times. I wish that we worked together in this life, which is the only one we have, to right the wrongs that we see around us. We should not abdicate our responsibility in hopes that fairness will come to us after the “end of the world”, as many religious leaders of many religions would want us to believe. Injustice should not be tolerated by humanity. We should strive to be better than we are. To me, that is the true meaning of salvation. Transcend your human weaknesses and become better than you are. What do you think?

          • We are star stuff for sure and we also have the potential for great good and great evil. I too believe that we are or should be in the process of becoming more fully who we are, recognizing the other embedded within ourselves to see the other as ourselves. So this is my question is rp/pi realizing a true self in suviving? Is not parallel to the old conundrum of if an person is going to kill you would you shoot back?

            • I don’t believe in God, Chelo, but if I were to believe, I would ask this question: If God did not want you to survive, why would he give you a survival instinct? If Pi killed the cook to survive, Pi did exactly what God created him to do. Good for him!

          • Hector, you are clearly an intelligent person and I enjoy your and a few others comments. I don’t want to give them up. Screen Rant has been an introduction to these conversations. My question is can they continue in the life of Pi, screen rant , maybe under a DIFFERENT Subject line (not necessisarily from a movie? , or like a book club, movie club , maybe they do? I haven’t looked at any other movies here. ) . I guess what my unimagitive mind would say straight out would be -do you have a Philosophy, etc. blog that I could follow and also voice my opinion , such as here. I have been on the Internet for only about a year. It is obviously so vast , that I am only beginning to discover it. (I do have another life.) Most of my writing has been directed at my family and friends. I haven’t had the inclination to Search the web to find what I have accidentally found Here. ?? Hmmm, SCREEN RANT! Is this what you had in mind all along? Duuhh , and maybe I just finally got it. Lol, :-) What do you believe? :-)

            • Hi Gary, I have been thinking for some time now about starting a few blogs. One is about “belief”. This one would welcome people of all creeds as long as they were willing to discuss things from their own beliefs systems AND also from an alternative belief system, like in a high school or college debate class, only that you would debate with yourself. The other blog that I was thinking of starting would be one on politics, and the same rules would apply: Voice your opinion from your own political point of view, BUT in the same post you also must write an opinion from the opposite point of view. My reasons are that I want to promote understanding of each others’ beliefs. We would need a prompt from time to time to start a conversation, but those are easy to come by. Would you be interested in participating in such blogs?

              • Hector , yes is my answer to the discussion blog. ( I thought I answered this question more fully earlier, but I can’t find it . Sometimes and more often that is a problem for me. )

  8. I think when we go through something unbearable that makes us behave in a way that doesn’t fit with our image of ourselves, we make up a version of the story that fits our self-image better.

    • I think you hit the nail on the head! He doesn’t want anyone to know that he killed the cook, and he survived by mentally separating his hungry self into the form of a tiger while remaining the nourisher.

  9. Ok seriously, why does everyone have to over analyze stuff soo specifically. Who cares! Im a 16 year old kid and i loved the tiger story, at the end of the day the whole thing is a story, so just watch/read it, be entertained.

    • Dario, I am over 60 years old and I think you are very wise. You have probably written the most important post on this site! Thank you.

  10. Thx hector you made it easier to understand

  11. Although I accept the second story as the true story im still daunted at the fact he grew no facial hair and it never answers the question as to what happen to his initially food supply and why he had to eat the cook in such a hurry if he had not yet “broken” because he loses his food first before the tiger actually eats a fish! And to add a quick question at one point when the tiger jumps off the boat to get a fish pi had a chance to kill the tiger(inner self) yet he did not because he thought he was doing bad? At this point there is no way he would have ate the cook he would have seen it as bad…

    • The tiger is “God.”

      During the movie, Pi mentions that no one truly believes in God until he is tested by God. When Pi helped the tiger back into the boat, he is accepting God into his life.

    • Fran, in your version of the story, saving Richard means becoming the Tiger so it is acceptable to eat the cook. Richard Parker is life, both beautiful and terrible. Had Pi drowned him it would have symbolized Pi starving to death for refusing to eat the cook.

  12. Sorry Ben but I don’t think anyone is going to rescue you. I could see if this were based on a true story. But this was fictional, and therefore, intentionally annoying. Even if it were real, it wouldn’t matter which story were true to anyone other than Pi since he suffered and lost everything except his life, and he has to cope. Since its open to interpretation …maybe its just a stupid “story” without a proper ending. Maybe Pi is “lion” his ass off, and neither story is real. Maybe the author can’t decide on the ending and labors over it so long that he decides to leave it open. Soooo artsy fartsy! The review should read….”entire audience hopelessly adrift”. They should have ended it with Richard Parker chasing his tail.

    • Lol. Jim. I feel the same, in a sense. At the end, I wanted the author to grow a pair like the Tiger and make a statement about what he believes. Instead, he leaves us adrift and lost at sea.

      I was waiting for Anandi to appear at the end. Nope. Therefore, I concluded that the island represented the attachment of his love for her and how it initially kept him alive (eating the island flora). Ultimately, though, it was never meant to be (the lotus does not grow in the forest) and it poisoned Pi’s soul/chakras (the pools). The plant with the tooth even opens like a lotus only to reveal death and possibly the wisdom to avoid the same fate (the tooth).

      Older Pi looks weathered and broken, and in the end spins a yarn that helped him deal with the many tragedies in his life. He says nothing definitive. It certainly had me questioning the author’s convictions at the end.

  13. After watching the movie an hour ago, i was trying to analyze both stories and ended up here finally. I liked how VD has summed it up. I believe that’s exactly what the writer/director wanted to convey.

    In any case, it’s a fantastic movie.

  14. This story is not as complicated as we thought .. what the writer intended to tell you is that God are same within any religion (which I disagree) .. he told that you can believe in what you want to believe .. it does not matter because the end result remains the same. in my opinion, the real story is the story of when he was with his mother, the cook and the Japanese because at the end of the story, the reports/ shipping documents states that no animal craft on the list. However, the authors still choose in believing the story about tigers, hyena and stuff because that’s more beautiful version..
    as i said earlier, it doesnt matter coz the outcome are still the same.

  15. This life is too much for us to take so we construct delusions to survive and have the will to reproduce. Pick any religion you like – of course we would prefer whichever one it is over the horror of reality. And they all begin with the initial event that, if believed at the outset, makes everything to follow easier to accept. In this case, it’s how could the animals have possibly gotten out of their cages? We know it’s an impossible precept, yet we believe it because we want to believe it, we need to believe it, the capacity to believe it provides a stronger will to survive and reproduce than not having that capacity and is therefore a natural selection. Paradoxically, we are actually wired to construct and believe the delusion by an evolutionary process.

  16. There is also a subleminal arguement or dimension in the fictional story..
    I think a lot of people missed this..

    Pi either haves no soul, or animals also have a soul..

    This arguement comes out when the father plays the role of the realest..
    The mother playes the role of religion & spirituality..

    Anyways the realest father shows the cat as nature made it a meat eating machine, but the cat didnt attack pi as agressively arguably could be out of fear or respect, the sciene where hes feeding the cub with meat..

    After pi and the tiger co-habitate with respect for eachother he sees what the cat sees and the cat is more then a meat eating machine and richard parker haves depth..

    The fact of this story is both storys are wrapped up in one with drama in both scienes emphasized equally weighed so like reading a mona lisa painting people impress their own emotion into a non positioned statement where optimest or pestimest no believer realest will lean intor one version over the other, so from a psycological standpoint people fill or pick the story with thier version, like i could even say both were true their was 6 things on the boat..

  17. People pick the story
    half full,
    half empty,
    both half full, & half empty..
    or neither.. its just half half period does full or empty mather because its just half..

    The boat could have had
    animals in it,
    people in it,
    animals & people in it,
    the boat could have actually been empty the whole time and his battle through the journey of life was all with in himself.. both storys could be false..

    Anyways there is many aspects but the most pernounced one the auther forces people to choose inst the story itself its..
    Animals have a soul, (exlusive) or people dont have one.

    The journey itself just intensifies the emotion because there is other symbolisms in the story like when he kills the fish in the net its glowing like its important, just like M. Night Shyamalan
    movies sixth sense..

    The whole movie is fictional both storys are fictional and peoples emotions make the movie real and people pick the fiction story as reality based on their inner emotions just like when phsycologist and FBI do ink blot test people ask what the black ink blots look like a murder will say a decapitated man or body, a bank robber will say the ink dot looks like a money bag that fell on the ground after robbing a bank..

    The whole story will make sense if you accept there is no correct version its your own version..

    • Hi Kevin! I agree wholeheartedly with your last statement. Very well said!

  18. sorry almost forgot in the movie 6th sense the glowing red door knob.. door knobs normaly are not glowing red, surface fish normaly dont glow only deep sea ones do the whole movies is just about symbolism..

  19. It is a movie reflecting human behaviour during crisis; From the beginning quest for realising the concept of GOD i.e., what is the warp and weft that made the Universe and the underlying core of the existence. Pi’s desire to know GOD by searching in the religions and in their dogmas and rituals which is reflected in the rest of the film. Whether it is tiger or the COOK(who created disturbance)man will always try to project which he likes and accept a person only according to his likes. The only witness to the happening after wreckage is HE only. So to convince others to accept he has to tell as others believe. Floating Island/Living with tiger/surviving with snacks and water which a boat can be expected to have normally for 200 +days is not normally possible, With the experience we heard of similar instances cannibalism is the natural fatal choice. So let us see the message that is, GOD is not in religions which are created by Men.GOD is nothing but the the core of the Existence and it is appearing in several dimensions.Energy may be dynamic or static. One can only realise but cannot be expressed, Words and visual expressions are after all imperfect tools to express the thing which is beyond sense perceptions.

    • Very well said and very good analysis. Thank you!

  20. I think there is a significant point missing in the discussion. The question “which do you prefer?” is deeper than whether you believe the animal or the human story. It is asking “Do you prefer to believe people are only animals or do you prefer to believe a tiger has a soul?” If people are only animals, there is no God. That is as deeply theological as it comes and it isn’t about the story at all – it is about you.

    • That… is actually very beautiful.

    • This is good, however it suggests that you need a god to have a separating factor between us and other animals which you call a “soul”. I believe our ability to use logic is enough separation. We are animals, but we have the ability to use logic, those are just facts.

  21. It seems to me that the main point of the story is to ask the question, which do you prefer; a world where God is living and active in his creation, or a world without God and only man fending for himself. However, I think the most profound statement came early on from the father talking to the confused young Pi; to believe in all gods is to believe in none.
    That seems to me to indicate the state of our culture; accepting all faiths (or no faith) as being equally valid and we therefore stand for nothing.

  22. Randyt, I truly believe in another choice.
    I believe in one very Etherial God. Not an imaginary Father. God is within us all and probably animals too. Insects? How far does it go? I don’t believe in Devine Guidence. I do believe that it is up to each of us to figure it out. I want to believe that there is some Etherial existence after death. Nobody knows.

  23. My apologies if this was already discussed. I just couldn’t float through over 1,600 posts :)

    Anyone hear of, or have any thoughts on the four animals signifying the four different beliefs in the book/film? The beliefs are Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, and Reason (Science/fact). With Pi’s father telling him so strongly about reason, I wonder if we can include that as a belief? Pi’s father gave him a very important lesson when he made his sons watch a tiger attack and kill an animal, stapling his point about reality based on pure science/reason. With Pi being on a boat with a tiger and his struggle blending all his different beliefs together in such an extraordinary situation, does anyone think we can look at Richard Parker as symbolizing reason? Most scientists will tell you that reason does not play well with religion and faith. Did reason destroy the argument of all the other beliefs on the boat? Reason would actually say that Pi should have never survived. Play the percentages, and Pi has no chance. So in the face of reason (Richard Parker), Pi survives, and in that “miracle”, proves that reason alone cannot be enough. Once Pi makes it to the shore, Richard Parker leaves. Reason was necessary and integral for Pi to survive, but on its own, it’s not enough.

    I love the book, and I love the movie. It makes people talk, think, and interact peaceably, and really, that’s what a lot of us need.

    So how about it? Does anyone else think the animals could signify the beliefs just like the animals could signify people that Pi knew from the boat? It would be a very loose interpretation, maybe each having elements in every animal. No one would want to pin a belief as being just like the cook! Don’t misunderstand!

    • I like your conjectures Jaysyn, thank you! They are very provocative and original, but there are some pitfalls that you yourself became aware of as you were writing. I thought about your proposals, and it bothers me that we would have to conclude that some religions killed other religions, which would imply that in some sense one religion is better or stronger or whatever than another. Furthermore, in real life reason has not been able to kill religion. If anything, the more reason and science discredit some religious beliefs, the more religious fanatics hold on to them and launch attacks on science. For example, according to science the earth is 4.54 billion years old and not 6,000 to 10,000 years as suggested in the Bible. Nevertheless, religious fanatics want to forbid that we teach science in school or insist that we teach creationism side by side. It also bothers me that Judaism would not be included, even though it is important enough for Pi to teach a course at the university. In addition, I feel that some people would disagree that reason is not enough. It is enough for me, and in the film it was enough for Pi’s father. I don’t feel despondent or lonely or empty or depressed or scared or anything as a result of not believing in God, and I suspect that other “non-believers” are pretty happy people too. Actually, I like being a Catholic because it is part of my cultural identity. I enjoy the holidays, and I appreciate the beauty that the beliefs aspire to, but I ascribe this yearning to our humanity and not to God. Finally, reason should never abandon us, and we should never abandon reason. Our intellect is not only the cause of our survival but also of our expanding understanding of the universe. What do you think?

    • I believe reason and knowledge are represented in the survival manual/journal, rations, and pencil. Once the pencil/food is gone and the manual taken by the wind, he can no longer rely on his “3.14″ self. He is forced to fully embrace/acknowledge the duality of his “Thirsty” self…him being thirsty in the religious sense in the church (i e the priest telling him he must be “thirsty” and Pi wrestling with the fact that the Innocent sacrifice themselves for the flawed/sinners) and him becoming “Thirsty” the magnificent yet terrible Tiger and doing what he must to survive at the expense of other life. In essence, he must accept that he is worthy of survival on a spiritual level AND prove it on a primal level.

  24. Ok, tell me where you saw he married his dream girl and had kids. Had I been concrete about that, then what you have is 2 very different interpretations (faith/religion) coupled with the merits of reason (instructions on survival) of a very perilous journey that end with impossible survival and impossible love. Without that, Pi just seems very broken and sad to me, but strong in perseverance.

  25. Agreed!

  26. I looked at the movie from a different perspective. Having had a family member experience a psychotic break due to an extremely tramatic experience i felt that what Pi experienced was a complete break from reality. He was the only one on the boat and he imagined the tiger and other animals there to help him cope. It all happened while he was in a psychotic state.

    • Any thoughts?

  27. it was decidable which story was true, demonstrating *a* reason why people believe in god, “prefer” god.

    if we are good literature readers and not literalists, then we will note an assumption about chronology of which story was told first to the japanese interviewers. we then remember why they said another story must be told, a “true” story (only meaning a story people could understand [frame-tale as to how scripture is written and why] and believe).

    which story was prefered. which did “god” prefer too. why was it important for pi to give his author friend a copy of the japanese interviewers’ report? ***which*** story was actually published IN the report, and in the news?

    clearly, the entire movie is metaphor for the human condition, in every scene and that we create gods to help us speak to that condition. it is only a “preference” that separates us from god; he may exist, he may not exist…the important, salient point is how we connect TO god and why.

    we ALL have our introductions to god through the human condition … echoed almost literally in pi stating so when explaining how he could be a hindu and a catholic.

    i thought the entire movie was brilliant in how much metaphor is packed into each scene and how accutely theological it was, even to incorporate how atheism is the same plight of responding to our human condition in no less an elegant yearning than a theological one.

    very well done!

  28. I have just watched Life of Pi for the second time, so my remarks are only concerning the film. I grappled with the ending the first time and after seeing it again I realized what it was telling me.

    The point of focus is the visiting writer who starts off as one not believing in a divine good or what people call “God”. Yet deep within his consciousness, beyond the realms of his rational mind, his spiritual core knew “his own truth” (his slant, his tendency or attitude to life). What was needed was a unique story to bring out his own truth to his rational mind, but a story that was open to his own interpretation.

    That story was told by Pi. Pi unfolds two versions of an ordeal at sea, one showing the providence of a divine good, while the other showing the brutishness and cruelty of human nature. That is when the penny dropped for me. It was not that either was wrong or right, rather what needed to be asked is this. Am I a person who believes in a world that is against me, cruel to me and that does not support me, or, do I believe in a world that supports me, nurtures me, and provides all I need?

    The tiger version of the story is for those who see the world as supportive, nurturing and sustaining, while the other version is for those who see the world as their enemy, non-supportive, cruel, harsh, murderous and brutish.

    The only question that remains for you is this. Which version do you prefer?

    Neither is right or wrong, but remember that by your thinking you are bound, and by your thinking you are made free.

    As the wise say, so a man thinks, so he is.

    As for me, I like the tiger version better!

  29. Coming from close to the place (Pondicherry) myself, I can tell you there is a conflict in Tamil Nadu/Pondicherry between believers (of any kind) and “Rational Thinkers” or Atheists. This is reflected in the politics of the state. The question of preference is whether you choose to believe something because it is pleasing to hear and palatable or whether you want to swallow the harsh “reality” in terms of “Rational” thought. Think of the discussion at the dinner table between father, mother and children. The truth as always is somewhere in-between all the varied beliefs (and non-beliefs). It is up to you to make up your mind.

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