‘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.

-

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.

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:
TAGS: life of pi

2,794 Comments - Comments are closed.

  1. If god is so great why did his ma and pa have to die? Why the big storm in the first place? What message is Pi meant to bring humanity in the end? Only that our minds create metaphors and god is one heck of a metaphor. There is no intervening.
    And why did Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead if heaven is so damn great and earth such a ball of dirt? Metaphor is why. We are supposed to learn something about ourselves, not about some master spook. Love is everywhere. Love is within. Learn about that and leave the rest behind.

  2. What other movies have produced so much discussion? I’d like to know. I subscribed to receive comments by email and it’s been a daily treat to read all the diverse opinions. AND, the conversation has yet to mention Hitler, right? Whoops, I guess I just proved the rule.

  3. The human story of Pi is the real one. Aside from his reaction while telling the story.It may be remembered that all of their animals after leaving India for Canada would be sold upon arriving at manila. After arriving at Manila, there is a scene which shows the map which is in the area of Marianas, where the storm happened, is a proof that there should no longer be animals present when the storm happened. Making the human story as the real one.

  4. hello everyone!
    I’ve read some of the comments and I understand some of your point of views. However, I seem to be the only one who believes that the 1st story is the truth. Why?… When he tells the 1st story, at his house (present Pi) to the Writer, he cries at the end. He gets so emotional, his eyes change, like he remembers exactly what had happened on that beach… Those Japanese officials cannot write this story, because it seems so unbelievable, sounds made up. Plus, who would be interested in couple of animals who died on a boat…? Those Japanese represent humanity, obviously. Because people nowadays do not believe in miracles, they don’t care about nature and it is hard to catch their attention. They need a cruel story, that is much more believable…
    So he tells them a different story, he remembers people from the ship, and connects them with the animals that represents them.
    The scene with the bars and the goat, well lets just say that all movies have some mistakes in them. For example, do you guys remember in the middle of the sea when that poor zebra is surrounded and annoyed by flies..? That was a mistake too… That’s not possible.
    Anyaways, at the end he was right. The two stories are just like with religion and God. You believe what you want, you see things how you want…

  5. The Miracle was that he survived 227 days, and people are overlooking that. Also the Tiger walking away without looking back, is what God wanted for Pi. Don’t look back, just move forward.

  6. I believe the second story was true for many reasons, but a few things really stuck out to me when I made the connections. (I am basing my assumption off the movie, mind you.)
    1) The island was shaped like a human, and was considered a ‘carnivorous island’. To me, that seemed to be one sign of his possible resorting to cannibalism, as well as the cannibalism on the boat from the cook.
    2) The first fish he kills is an unusually large one compared to the smaller ones we see him fishing for, as though it’s meant to stick out. He starts crying when he kills the fish, choking out the words, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry” – as if it were more than an animal. While in his first story it can be taken to mean that he’s never killed an animal before, by the time we hear the second story it becomes chilling – as if it has darker implications. Was this fish to represent the first time in the story he resorts to cannibalism?

    The second story is also told quickly and through tears. You hear him mention his mother, and your mind goes back to her representing the orangutan to whom he says, “Where is your boy?”. The orangutan sadly looks behind her, and he says that his parents would find him. What if the boy is referring to Pi’s brother, who was left with Pi’s father?

    Just a few things that connect the stories together that leave me to believe the second story. (although I love the ending being a “you decide” thing.)
    Much like with Big Fish, a similar film, I choose to believe the realistic elements (Even though the ending clearly states the truth). Maybe it’s because I like looking for a deeper meaning, but it happens to be the way I look at things. Things are more fantastic if they have a touch of real life. It becomes more meaningful and it holds itself closer to your heart.

    • Excellent analysis !

    • Nice! Great analysis. I still prefer the animal story though. Haha.

    • I pointed this out earlier. I concur with you… Please forgive mistakes in grammar and spelling not really in the mood to proof read.

      Richard Parker is the name of the bENGAL Tiger :- I think there is a key and purpose to the name ..

      At this stage if you havent checked already you will find The name is synonymous with Cannibalism OUT at sea. Please check into..
      I prefer the Animal Story. Over the other more traumatic and brutal story about HUMAN NATURE. We all would prefer it being a discussion about ANIMAL NATURE RATHER THAN HUMAN NATURE.

      But:- If we had been shown the other story and only got given the animal story at the end when he was speaking to the japanese officials.. Then all of us would have come to the conclusion that the Animal Story was madness.

      The fact he told us the Animal Story the fact the Japanese Officials preferred to Acknowledge that story (only goes to show not only that they prefer the more positive of the TWO, but more importantly could you imagine the bad press the other story would have brought their comapny).. LOl one of their employees killed client and canibalised a fellow employee.

      I know what i would prfer to write down on my official report :- the Animal Story..

      The whole story basically leds up to the final decision of him running out of rations , losing his ability to fish because of a storm :- and having to resort to Cannibalism :- The Island and meerkats the roots are all parts of the human anatomy he was chuging down ..

      I personally feel the writer cleverly turned what could/would have been a horror story. About survival heartache and anguish and made it a splendidly palatable fantasy tale. The morality points in both stories give us the same conclusion… Just one is less horrifying than the other.. I think this is the first time i have see a successful story written and filmed about survival out at sea. Probably because he talks and dicusses points metaphorically like many Hindu/ Testament/ Koranic depictions… He is using the craft of story telling with metaphors to allow the story to be UNIVERSAL – I.E. not just for Adults but for Children alike

      I want the Animal Story to be true, and as a story it would be more remarkable. I consider the story at hand to be much more sophisticated Than just a story about animals or cannibalism — Its a story about life and how the world would be a sadder and more horrifying place if we didnt believe in (GOD) or dare i say it (the ANIMAL STORY).

    • I just viewed the film, for me there was no debate over which story was true. The animal story was a coping mechanism to survive the horror of what was actually happening. Totally engrossed from beginning to end-thank you for your excellent analysis particularly the orangutan and the boy.

  7. Much like life…The beginning-beauty & innocence…The middle-lessons & experience…The end-confusion & empty! I would’ve ended it differently.

  8. OMG it’s the Soprano’s all over again.

  9. Why tell two stories ?

  10. I think that when they discuss looking into the tiger’s eyes and only seeing your own emotions reflected back this is explaining that when you study you religion, you interpret scriptures and life in a way that matches your beliefs / your religion. But Pi defys this and says that he has to believe that he saw something more and experienced more with the tiger / GOD because he felt it (had faith) even though he could not prove it.

    • This looks like ego vs. self. Pi is the Tiger, but which is it, ego or self?
      My view is that the Tiger represents our real self….majestic, uncontrollable, ungodly…..the ego usually overrides and our true splendor shows up when the ego has nothing to prove.

  11. This movie gave me some serious Vanilla Sky flashbacks. I have a love/hate thing going on with both. So many of the interpretations make sense & it frustrates me to no end. I guess I believe more towards the human story, and take the animal version as a coping mechanism. That said, I wasn’t left with a very good feeling after watching. I also felt the need to analyze absolutely everything from the paper napkin on the floor, to the meaning of life.

    • I had the same experience, Melissa — the love/hate relationship with films & books like Vanilla Sky & Life of Pi. Sometimes I think my heart is too tender for stories like these, while at the same time, I love the spiritual, emotional, & psychological challenges!

      Ultimately, I believe the “true” story is the one with human characters — but I value metaphorical stories just as much, or more sometimes, than “true” stories (I do consider myself a spiritual person, after all!) — and so I prefer the story with animals.

      I might say, I also “believe” the story with animals — just as I say I believe in God/Higher Source of Good!

      Finally, other viewers may have mentioned this already, but the final scene of the film seems to support the theory of the human story being the true one: after we see Richard Parker the tiger walk into the jungle, the brilliant, almost-unreal, bright colors fade to more realistic colors — supporting the idea that Richard Parker was not real. (Even though he is in our hearts.)

  12. I love readin all the insightful comments.
    Pi’s broader story is the a story about
    Believing God. Like Pi’s 2 stories, having
    The same Parallels, beginnings
    n outcomes. I see it as his way of describing
    Religion. Pi began learning about Hinduism
    Then Christianity next Islam then Judaism.
    what story do u prefer. I think that’s the whole
    Point of this movie, Believing God.

    • I agree but will take it a step further. I think the crux of the movie is when Pi asks the writer which story he prefers, and the writer says the one with the tiger; that’s the better story. Then Pi says “And so it goes with God.” Sometimes the biblical stories seem too bazaar, like fairy tales, but God uses the “better” story by whch to capture our attention and teach us the needed lessons.

  13. I beleve in the first story if u listen to the second one its almost the same the people were the animal and the only thing he didnt mentions was the island so i like the first one i beleve in the first on and i also beleve it was a true story we esle would it of come from so best thing i have ever seen all and all wish i was there

  14. Why is the fact that he taught Kabala at the university never mentioned? That would make 4 religions, the last of which considers goyim animals.

    • It *is* mentioned, Kelly — as Pi & The Writer are walking out of the house, I believe.

  15. The goat was sacrificial, a preemptive scapegoat for Pi’s future sins. Pefectly legal in some religions.

  16. I turned it off after the tiger killed the hyena. Ang Lee isn’t going to tell me how the universe works. Ang Lee had better watch out for the universe because it’s already squatting over him.

  17. The first time I realize that it was and metaphorical experience, was when he opened the lotus flower in the “jungle”. He explained he found a tooth and what that meant to him, to the reporter. But if you remember in beginning of the movie when he was pining after that young lady he asked, showed her movements and interpretations of her dance. What did this mean and she said it was a lotus flower in the jungle and that’s when I said to myself that this story must be representing what actually happened to him.Watch the movie once, wonder.. Watch it twice and you will choose. Either story says, having faith will bring you. through…

  18. What are the odds of a zebra jumping into a tiny boat and why were there no other people on the boat. Also, the monkey was locked in a cage along with the other animals, yet they managed to make their way onto the boat, yet no humans made it?

  19. Wow! Great analysis by everyone! I watched the movie over 6 months ago and I loved it. I must confess I didn’t analyze it to the extent you all did. It was a lying in bed Sunday morning kind of viewing. I will definitely watch it again soon with all of these perspectives in mind. Thank you all for your thoughts and words. Namaste!

  20. I believe the point is not which story is true but which one do you prefer. Just like god’s existance cannot be proven but the fact that a large number of people choose to believe in god. As in the last dialogue said by irfan khan “and so it goes with god”. I believe there is no conclusive way of proving which story is true because the author leaves a lot of loose ends. This allows everyone to choose what they prefer, an atheist a man of science who does not believe in the supernatural is bound to go with the second version. A person who believes in god and miracles will go with the first version. The whole story is based on a paradox, the two most influential persons in Pi’s life 1. His father, a man of logic who does not believe in god and is very practical about life, On the other hand his mother who is a creature of religion. And his life is a journey where he comes across many faiths and belief systems but is unable to choose one from the many but as far as I see it the point here is a man who experienced god, a fact which he cannot definitively prove, which the japanese company guys are unable to accept because rational mind does not think that way. So he comes up with a story that a rational logical mind can percieve and it is because the author chooses to go with the story of the tiger it can be concluded that his faith and belief in god was reinstated.

  21. As a believing Christian, I got an entirely different theological ending from the movie. ( I haven’t read the book.) I thought the author was trying to say that his BELIEF in God helped him, and God did not necessarily help him. In other words, I felt that the movie was trying to say, “People believe in God because it’s a nicer story.” This made me, a “believer” wonder if the author/screen writer were poking fun at folks like me, saying that as “earnest as our belief is, it’s only because it’s a nicer story. We don’t want to think there is any eternal life for people who tragically died, no comfort for people senselessly killed, tortured or mistreated. We believers want to believe that things will work out in the end, and that God is the one who strengthens us through the hard times…..and that we only believe that because the alternative is to harsh to bear.”

    • I believe you have it exactly, Kristin.

  22. Can’t stop thinking about this movie since watching it. I love the thought of the animals representing the various people…but may I add another possibility? As the movie states…the orangutan is his mother, the hyena the cook, the zebra the sailor and the tiger is Pi. But in the animal scenario Pi is there too. Perhaps Pi is God. Looking back there’s many examples where this makes sense. Why didn’t Pi intervene when the hyena was attacking the animals? Much like the belief that God doesn’t interfere with free will. He may not like how we treat each other but life must take its course.
    Also, Pi (God) saves the tiger every time…never failing to do everything He can to sustain him through this ordeal. Even giving the tiger the safety of the boat while He stays out on the raft surrounded by danger.
    And at the end when they wash up on shore and Pi watches the tiger walk away. After all they’ve been through he expects the tiger to acknowledge the connection they must have formed. Like God carrying us through trials, saving us and in the end watching man thanklessly walk away. He cries.
    I’m not a religous person but that’s what really stuck with me since watching it last night. I’m sure if I watched it again even more examples would be noticable.
    I love the discussion this movie has generated.

    • I like this interpretation the best

    • I think pi and the tiger represent to different aspects of pi’s personality battleing and him trying to control/tame the cannibalism and keep his humanity.

    • I absolutely love your intepretation. I saw the movie last night and haven’t rested. Thanks for the insight. It all makes sense

      • It’s the one that made the most sense to me. During the movie I couldn’t understand why he didn’t grab an oar and stop the hyena, or why he would save the tiger when the tiger could kill him eventually. Without this discussion afterwards I would’ve been confused by the movie so this forum is fantastic. Seeing the movie is good but discussing it after brings it to a whole new level. Trying to decide whether the animal or human story is true makes no difference to me. They are both the same story…one of survival and whether its humans resorting to cannibalism or animals following their natural instinct, both are giving in to self preservation.
        To me the movie is a good reminder that man is not as superior to all other species as we think. At a time of crisis we will behave exactly the same way.
        Pi as God is an excellent example of complete sacrifice for someone/something else that completely goes against our natural instinct…mans and animals.

  23. At the very beginning of the film when they were showing many of the zoo animals, did anyone happen to notice the subtle reflection of Richard Parker passing by (in the water)? The camera was more focused on the bird on the lily pad. Did anyone notice the title of the book in Pi’s hand in the school yard? Jules Verne, “The Mysterious Island”. Also, when Pi was reading from the survival manual, he says, “telling stories is highly recommended”.

    I know its just a fictitious story, but still, I had difficulty understanding how they resorted to cannibalism so early on. After the ship sinks, it seems like the animal/human survivors are killed off rather quickly. In fact, they were all dead and gone before the sea rations were even utilized? The point is, the other “survivors” on the lifeboat comprise a very small fraction of the movie, as if it all happened in the first day. In contrast, a lion’s share of footage is dedicated to Pi’s experiences with Richard Parker. Pi goes into elaborate detail on this imaginary relationship? As unlikely as it may seem, it makes me wonder about the 1st story being true. In addition he seems truly heartbroken when he’s explaining how Richard Parker left him so unceremoniously. Sometimes truth is indeed stranger than fiction. The fact is, neither story is popular. One is very unlikely, and one is very dark.

    To the Japanese men… Why not say, “There was a bad storm. I don’t know why it sank”. The rest is irrelevant to their cause.

    Pi’s experiences were indeed tragic, and extremely personal. He alone would understand the experience. So would it really matter to Pi, who believes what.

    What choice do we have? All these lost souls looking for some closure….

  24. Furthermore, if it were only humans on that lifeboat, the food and water rations would be the VERY FIRST thing they found. The lifeboat had provisions for 30!!! The delay in finding those supplies was due to the predators under the tarp. From the point where the ship is sinking onward, there is a certain cheese factor to the story line. Its deliberately misleading.

  25. I would like to address the story as having an overarching textual theological theme. For instance, if we were discussing the Christian bible, often times the stories seem fantastic and impossible (especially in the old testament) but display the true meaning of their text without “the facts” or what the actual historical events were. I believe both the author and the director are speaking to the human understanding of these stories.

    Would we have such faith in the stories of religion if they were cut and dry and historically accurate? Would we believe in a higher power at all?

    If the bible, and other religious scriptures were written as exact historical accounts, there would be no theme teaching mysteries and miracles that a god would be responsible for. So when Pi says “Such is God” I believe he’s saying that if the stories were not there that we prefer to listen to (the animal story) it would be nothing more than the bitterness of life and human nature as presented in the latter story presented to the Japanese officials.

  26. Okay, since it’s such an open ending, either story could be true. But both share the same lesson, if you are to survive and reach civilization, you must be willing to do anything.

    It’s displayed in the human story whenbhe kills the phsycotic chef and eventualy resorts to cannibilism. But the lesson is a bit more… expanded, expained, and given purpose. Pi doesn’t stop the hyena outof fear for his own life, and in doing so lets both the zebra and the arrangatange die. Then he lets the tiger kill the hyena and feast on the other animals while taking nothing for himself. I think that Pi knew it was better to let the one immediate threat to him at the moment to be full. He then willingly gives up the boat for a raft and substains the tiger as well as himself. But in the animal story itis most brought out when the reach the carnivouris, human- shaped island. He leaves this island knowing full well that it would substain him, but also knowing that once his time was up that the island would eat him.

    And yes I do accept that both stories had connections in the characters, but I personaly believe the animal story better than the human story, because it not only includes a lesson, but has another lesson that isn’t shown in the human story. Belief in higher deities is a powerful thing and should not be under estimated, not even when the time of disbelief hits you, because as Pi says, “There is room for disbelief on every floor of religion.”

  27. Could there also be a meaning behind his name, Pi ? I would think so. Why Pi and not his full name ?

  28. I believe that the second story is true, but this does not mean that this interpretation is less spiritual. The two main points I got from the film regarding God were that: God is with us during our most trying times, even when we think we’re abandoned. The second is that we must accept and submit ourselves and our lives to God, said when Pi shouts at the sky “I am your vessel.” The search for God that Pi experiences while growing up gave him a foundation of faith which we all need. The ending is actually happy because his faith in God and acceptance of what happened to him gave him the strength not only to endure the sea, but to accept what happened to him at sea, and to then eventually live a happy life.

  29. In 1838, Edgar Allan Poe published his first and ONLY complete novel titled, “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.” [SPOILER ALERT!!] It is a gruesome tale of a whaler as narrated by Pym, a stowaway. There is a cabin boy character in the novel that is cannibalized and the character’s name is Richard Parker.

    A fairly well-known coincidence in relation to Poe’s novel (google it) is the real life story of a yacht called the Mignonette which sank off the coast of Cape of Good Hope in 1884. In that saga, a four man crew cannibalizes a cabin boy whose name was, you guessed it: Richard Parker.

    I watched a Charlie Rose interview with the actors and director of the Life of Pi, and I am surprised that the interview, along with this analysis and the very long comment thread doesn’t mention Edgar Allan Poe’s work.