‘Life of Pi’ Ending Explained

Published 2 years 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.

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2,794 Comments - Comments are closed.

  1. Argument against ANIMALS story – 227 days of Tiger defecating in the boat would be impossible to cleanup and if not cleaned could have caused diseases. Witnessing his Mom’s murder probably disturbed Pi so much that he had to make up an alternate story for his own sanity’s sake.

    Arguments against HUMANS story – If the cook’s intention was to conserve the limited supplies, and if I were the cook I would have killed the other 3 at the same time ( probably when they were asleep) to ensure there was no retaliation / revenge etc.

    If the cooks intention was to cannibalise on the other humans then he would have killed one at a time and fed on their meat and then kill the next. If this was the case and if I were the cook, i would have killed Pi first since the hurt Buddhist and Pi’s Mom would not be able challenge me even together.

    I have presented arguments against both versions. I do like the Tiger story though !!

    • U have no deeper understanding of this wonderful tale ? Sad

  2. God is the “colorful story”. The purpose of the colorful story is to give hope to the hopeless. You could say religions are colorful stories that have served mankind through the darkest of times.

    In “Life of Pi”, facts and truth must compete with opinion and preference.

    Perhaps not everyone can handle the truth. But lets face it, stories are fabrications. “Life of Pi” is two stories, within a story. One story was featured, and supported with colorful imagery. The other, not so much. So which “story” were we supposed to prefer? As if we could actually choose…as if these two stories were somehow equal….as if the storyteller didn’t just forfeit his credibility by telling conflicting accounts….as if we had enough facts…as if “preference” trumps “truth”…?

    I don’t prefer to speculate because it was deliberately written convoluted, and paradoxical. If you’re going to tell me a story, tell me a damn story.

    For the record, you can’t “choose to believe” something simply because it suits you. Obviously one story is the more colorful and convenient, but what we believe is not a matter of choice. Belief is automatic. Doubt is automatic. Trust is automatic.

    Why people act like they have a choice to believe something or not, is beyond my comprehension. Experience is boss. When you experience something first hand, you have no choice but to believe it, but when you tell someone your experience, they have no choice but to have some level of doubt. Knowing is reserved for those who experience or witness something first hand.

    Its human nature to embellish and falsify.

    Human beings wish and hope and twist and exaggerate and manipulate and coerce and outright deceive; sometimes we do this to ourselves. Our entire culture is configured with this in mind, our legal and judicial systems, for example. We have to make promises; commitments. People in power must be sworn in; they must take oaths (often to no avail)…. We put a great deal of emphasis on honesty, integrity, ethics, etc. Even husbands and wives struggle… Its human nature to bear false witness! We all have our reasons and we all know this. We are storytellers. Sometimes we fabricate for charitable causes, for the children, the old, weak, sick….the fearful….the hopeless.

    Why do we deceive our children with the Easter bunny, tooth fairy, and Santa? We tell them fairytales where good always triumphs. We comfort and shield them from the ugly reality we’ve created for them.

    In much the same way, it seems the ruling class ‘uses religion’ to comfort the masses (so we will tolerate the injustice they impose). If we want “everlasting life” we’d better follow the rules and turn the other cheek. Asking someone to believe something they simply can’t, immediately creates guilt, shame, fear, etc.

    Our religious beliefs are decided geographically? God seems like Santa Claus for adults.

    Our perpetual fear of death, a major common denominator among conscious beings, wouldn’t you say? This is where all religions seem to intersect, some sort of everlasting life, after death. All you have to do is “believe in” something you can’t.

    Declaring your belief, no matter how vehemently, does not make it so. I can certainly understand wanting to believe something. But pretending to believe is false. Its simply impossible to “believe” in supernatural stuff. With deities, it seems all we’ve really got is hope. I HOPE FOR GOD. I hope he is merciful to those who suffer. In my opinion, what we really need to “believe” and have faith in, is ourselves, each other, brotherhood, peace, LOVE…

    We need to realize that we belong to our living planet… that all the life here is one in the same…..that we are the components of a larger living being, or rather, we could be if we coordinated with, and cooperated with, and harmonized with the world around us…instead of exploiting it, and selling each other out.

    We’ve compromised the security of our hive for an extra portion of honey! We’re taught to ignore our intrinsic connection to our world. We’re misguided, misinformed, and dis-informed, all to favor greedy special interests, and those vested in them.

    Perhaps this is the problem with religions (and knowledge). Information is used as a weapon for personal gain.

    • Yes, its just a story. In my opinion, the word “believe” is used far too loosely. What is real and truthful and known, comes only from 1st-hand experience. We can only believe what we experience/witness. Our 5 or 6 senses is all we’ve got! A testimonial is someone else’s claim (of experience). We all know its human nature to lie, twist, exaggerate, and jump to conclusions. This is why its also human nature to question and doubt. The “inconvenient truth” is…. we CANNOT believe something simply because we prefer it, or just because we want to, or just because someone says so verbally. Deep down we all know this. All that’s really being asked here is… which “story” do you “prefer”? This is very simple. Everything else is just speculation and fabrication…

  3. with which do you guys thinks think that pi’s ego sides with, the id or the superego? which side made him leave the island.

  4. I’ve enjoyed reading the comments and I apologize if this has been said previously, but early in the movie when reading the survival guide, it talks about ways to stay alert and occupied in a stranded situation (play cards, TELL STORIES and not to give up hope)

    His story is full of hope and could be just that, HOPE. The tears at the end of the movie seem to give the second story legitimacy, but that doesn’t make me want to believe it :) even if it might be true. One thing I found interesting is that Pi cries as a young man telling the unfavorable story and doesn’t cry about the first story. As an older man, he cries about the favorable story and tells the second one with no remorse. There are so many angles here!

    To some, the bible is the word…to others, its nothing more than a story. You can take it either which way, but at the end of the day, truth or not, its meant to leave you with a positive feeling. What matters MOST with this movie IMO, is that its a magnificent story…and I think when you get “too caught up” in trying to understand it, you miss it all together.

  5. I tend to approach “and so it goes with God” as being more simple….Our life is an incredible journey, but not without suffering and loss. We are free to choose to take this journey through life with or without God.

  6. My theory is that Pi is actually God. As the young Pi, he is accepting of all race religion and creatures. When on the life raft, if Pi is the tiger then who is Pi. The tiger is scared and hungry and Pi keeps his distance but still looks after the tiger, providing food water and comfort when the tiger is near death. When finally they reach safety and the tiger realises he is out of danger, after all that Pi has done for him, the tiger leaves without thanks or even a glance backwards, which hurts pi immeasurably. Sound familiar?

    • Stole the words right out of my mouth! Couldn’t have said it any better.

    • No, the meta-story told by Martel and Lee shows that most people — for whom the writer and the investigators are surrogates — choose to believe Pi’s uplifting fiction rather than Pi’s disquieting truth.

      Isn’t it distressing that, of the industrialized democracies, the United States is the country where that choice is most prevalent? Isn’t it sad that of advanced nations, ours is he one most willing to embrace fantasy over fact? Perhaps Lee was really telling us to wake up and face reality.

      PS: Ben Kendrick, the metaphor is “cut and dried”, not “cut and dry”.

    • Great point!

    • that was great really …at least better than the whole merging god out of three different religion

  7. Sorry for this being so long and drawn out! I feel like I have to elaborate a lot so it makes sense because I actually had a hard time trying to explain my thoughts effectively.

    The explanation given of Pi as God is very plausible. But here is something that I am considering. The man that Pi is telling this story to had said in the beginning something along the lines of wanting to be convinced or that he wanted Pi to make him believe. At the end, Pi asked him what story he prefers (which I think is symbolic of ones perception when living for God and, in contrast, ones perception as a nonbeliever, and which choice of perception allows a more pleasant way of life simply by choosing to believe one thing over another. The man says he prefers the story with the tiger. Pi then says, “thank you; and so it goes with God.” I believe this was Pi’s way of making him understand why he should believe and that by simply believing, the mind is more at peace. This would be especially true if the man was a nonbeliever with the basic foundation of disbelief growing from the idea that there is no purpose in believing in something when there is no evidence proving its actual existence. If the man feels like accepting the story “with the tiger” allows him to settle his mind to the tragedy, he can certainly believe with ease that believing can being very rewarding and comforting.The point being: if you can believe this, you can believe elsewhere as well. The mans ultimatel preference is what I think Pi expected from him all along, knowing that the man would draw this conclusion regarding faith, and so it goes with God.

    • When all of you, whoever you are, look yourself in the mirror, say to yourself ……. ” I am merely a representation of what you are willing to believe” In this saying you will come to understand, that this is how the world see’s others. But the truth is far more amazing indeed. Now ask yourself. “Who is the chosen one?” Answer……… YOU…… All of you, even the cat and dog, and all the other creatures that make up this Planet, and all the creatures throughout the Universe. We are all chosen by the source of life (God) we are all the Messiah, it’s just the religious organisations will have you believe other wise, in order to stop you being free, for true freedom comes from the source of life (God) then through your heart and mind.

      The human mind is of two parts, the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. The conscious mind lives in our brains, but our subconscious mind lives outside our body, in fact, the subconscious mind is our true self that is part of God. To know what perfection is, is impossible, but it’s right in front of us the whole time, that being the subconscious mind, the source of life (God). We live in a world where our conscious mind is our main mind we use to think with, but our subconscious mind holds the secrets to our true selves that being part of the source of life (God).

      When it is time for our body to die, our subconscious mind becomes the conscious mind and we become one with the source of life (God). It is interesting to note, that when people have a brain operation if they are conscious throughout the operation which in some cases they do an operation while the patient is still conscious, the surgeon will ask the patient to speak while the surgeon touches parts of the patients brain, the patient can not speak, but after the operation patients often say that they could think for themselves with no trouble at all while the operation was being carried out. So there is proof that the subconscious mind lives outside our bodies, but is connected to our conscious mind.

      The subconscious mind is also connected to the highest dimension, the source of life (God) as well, but not our conscious mind. Our conscious mind live in this dimension which is filled with doubt and disbelief.Believe This…. Ultimately, when you view it from the highest dimension, there is no time and no space, there is no future and no past, it all is occurring in one fascinating moment of expression, but time is an illusion that has purpose.

      To answer the question about animals having a subconscious mind that is connected to the source of life (God)? The answer to this is yes. Also Bugs, Fish and Birds all have a subconscious mind that is part of source (source of life God). And if you think that this planet is the only planet that has conscious minds that are connected to the subconscious mind that is the source of life (God), you got another thing coming, you can bet your bottom dollar that the universe is teeming with consciousness in the forms of whatever the subconscious mind source of life (God) made.

      About wanting and getting things you like and want. Believe from your subconscious mind that you already have them, and it will happen.

      The Conscious mind is a mind that is victimized by hate and suffering in order to get along, but remember, the religious organisations killed Jesus, who was a man that was one with the source of life (God) and even to this day, the religious organisations will kill whoever stops them from keeping this man made power. But the Subconscious Mind source of life (GOD) from time to time will down load wisdom on whom The Subconscious Mind chooses…. The source of life (God) is like the wind, you do not know when it will come, or for whom it will come, but when it comes to you, you will be filled with awe and greatness and Love. The conscious Mind can never know the Subconscious mind if the conscious Mind lives by the religious organisations belief systems, only when you free yourself from the religious organisations grip will you be one with the higher Subconscious Mind, the source of life, your true self, (God).

      • David, your true self has been shown to me. I was meant to read this. You have just changed my life, and perception. Thank you and thank God

      • Can I share you words

      • Do you know why Advertisements are geared to influence the sub-conscience? Because the conscience mind reacts out of the sub-conscience. You become what you behold! In other words garbage in-garbage out. If you fill your mind with violence the sub-conscience will react with violence,anger and resentment but if you fill your mind with good and wholesome ideals you will experience joy and peace. The choices we make in life determine who we are and who we can be even amongst trials and bad experiences. To define our sub-conscience as our true self (God) would be a big mistake. I for one do not doubt the existence of God,(The creator, our Father in heaven, the source of all lfe)and it is not my true self.

  8. bananas dont float. Pi’s story of the tiger is bull crap in the movie, his second story is the truth.

    • Bananas do float, I tried it in my kitchen sink!

  9. I believe the animals were were people.like pi said at the end . The reason the tiger did not look back was because Pi didn’t have to survive anymore.he didn’t have to be strong anymore. His strength and will had been pushed to the end. I want to believe the island was his mother. You never saw what happened to the orangutan which was in theory his mother, I think he held on to her until the end and he ate her to survive and got sick and passed out while waiting to die and that was her last gift to him

    • I believe in the human story too, but he says sharks ate his mother. The option of the island in the article sounds plausible to me.

    • There are soooo many interesting ideas here :) super interesting to read. I just wanted to add that there is one scene where the island is fully shown, at night when it glows, so that you can see the whooooole island from the side. If you look closely you see that the island has the form of a female body :) that information might increase your idea of seeing the island as his mother. I noticed that while watching the movie but didn’t understand or couldn’t interpret anything. Thank you for helping me being able to interpret this!

      Buuuuut I believe in the animal-story ;) so in my point of view it is not possible for the island to be his mother, but, in reality, it is, indeed, truly his mother. :D
      Knowing that Heaven, where God resides, is called Father and the Earth, where we live, is called Mother, Mother Earth, it was necessary for Pi to leave the Earth, leave his Mother, to not die a meaningless death on an island, in a world, which seems so paradisiacal but turns into a nightmare once the sun sets, the light disappears and darkness starts to dominate. A state of an island, a world, which would have killed anybody and dragged them into deeper darkness, hell. The hole, where Pi drank water and later on saw dead fish, can be seen as the gate of hell. It looks creepy enough to me, a hole without bottom, where you can sink deeper and deeper downwards..and usually you have the image of hell being located under us.

      What does the author tries to tell us? We have to ignore the world where you can temporarily satisfy your hereditary drives, where you can live a transient live full of passions, greed, etc.., which eventually leads to nowhere owing to the transience in all things, all earthly things. Infinity is not transient. God is infinite. The number Pi is infinite, so Pi can be God :) Life of Pi or “Life of God”. ( I got that idea, seeing Pi as God, from the message above, written from “tg”. Super interesting and very helpful in the process of learning. Don’t miss it. Actually it is so super logical but I just didn’t hit on it, I just understood while writing my text. ) So we should focus on a way, on a life, which leads to infinity, which leads to God, being conscious of our inner potential and head towards Heaven. :)

      It is the saddest scene, when they finally reach the beach, where Richard Parker, representing the humans, doesn’t even throw a glance at Pi, who represents God, which breaks his heart so hard and makes the audience want to share his pain..being ungrateful and turn away from God, who loves us infinitely, is something we shouldn’t do.
      The text from David, above, is also interesting. I didn’t read the following texts below but I am sure there are really interesting ones to come. I hope that one day we humans are able to love each other as brothers and sisters and truly understand the meaning of love and life. :)

      • Thien,
        Your post made me think of another movie I recently enjoyed….The Tree of Life….lots of mother/father themes in that as well as very spiritual

  10. To me, there are two angles that Pi’s closing line..

    1) faith is beleiving in the unlikely. This angle is supported by that fact that he challenges the writer before giving him a copyof the report. Allowing him to hear both stories and deciding which version he likes before revealing evidence of the truth. Filling him with doubt based on others reactions

    2) suggesting that god is present in all and religion is simply a belief in a version of god that we find or are brought up to beleive is more paletable. I firmly believe that in reality all religions are different visions of what was once the same religion – ie the concept of god represents the same core belief or principle. Think of god as a destination – say, a house, and all you want is shelter ; and religions a set of direction and road rules on how best to get there, created by people over time with different descriptioms of the house. All lead to the same place essentially but have the same end result with different journeys and potentially a different description, but the same end result.

  11. I saw it as the Japanese representatives as the ‘Science’ of society, only interested in the facts and statistics compiling it into something believable. However Pi’s first story represents god through hope, that even though the facts said he would die on that boat, either getting eaten by the Tiger or Malnutrition, hope (God) is what pulled him through to survive. After all isn’t that what God is, a symbol of hope for those in need? As hope defies stats and facts against you and shows you a way through belief itself. At the end he says something along the lines of “And that is God”, referring to the first story itself, showing that it is belief. The movie for me was a justification for religion, as I now understand you don’t need to know or understand something to believe in it
    This was a major break through for me (AN ATHIEST)

    • Wow i agree with this

  12. I believe that, unfortunately, the second story is true. As a young boy who has lost everything he loves, what better way to deal with it than making a fantastical story to replace the horrors of what really happened. Believing in God refers to having a comfort when life throws difficult events. When the writer and the two Mexican travel authorities chose to ‘believe’ the story with the tiger, they were supporting Pi in his efforts to forget the truth.
    ‘And so it goes with God…’


  13. I must be incredibly stupid, but despite these theories I can’t think what impact the audience were meant to have. Reading these comments, I gather that the story attempts to challenge what makes sense and what we choose to believe that we can physically interact with, with faith and miracles and hope. However once the story and belief is chosen, depnding on what it is, what is the outcome for our beliefs? Does it matter whether we choose to believe the unbelievable or not? And was a fictional book about pi and a tiger the most effective way provide with these provoking thoughts on religion and non-belief??

  14. Evidently there is more to the Life of Pi than just a choice between two stories, as the opening of the book/film strongly indicates: “I have a story that will make you believe in God.” Read more about this in my blog entry: Interpreting the Meaning of Richard Parker and the Life of Pi. Here you will find a rather different perspective: http://paultkidd.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/interpreting-meaning-of-richard-parker.html

  15. I think that to some degree, the symbolism of him learning to live with the tiger (and trying to tame it) was to do with how we all try to live with our self destructiveness. The movie was about yin meeting yang. The end of duality is what all religions preach as finally finding oneness with God. The battle with the tiger represented a battle within himself. Near the end, the tiger lay with his head on Pi’s lap, he had overcome his biggest fear, his greatest enemy. And then the tiger walked away.

    The kingdom of God is within us, and in order to find God, Pi spent 227 days fighting an inner battle with himself. There was a distraction along the way (as there often is in life) this seemingly perfect island, where Pi and the Tiger had a break from each other, but it turned out not to be the “heaven” that it seemed to be. So they had to face each other again.

    Whatever the author’s intentions were, it’s a thought provoking book!

  16. I’ve read some (not all) comments & only had the previlage to see the movie last night. Yes I too would prever “God’s” version. My view is that the tiger is PI’s fear. He attempted to deal with it when, still at the Zoo, but his father did not allow it as he was too protective of his family. The time on the life boat (which I see as life itself) PI had a choice of either “die” or deal with his fear. The boat was “life” & the selfmade raft, which he spend at lot of time on & @ a safe distance from “fear”, was his “faith”. Through his “faith” he could plan & see the way “forward” to tame his fear & survive. The “island” they landed on I would she as “in a comatosed state”. He opened his eyes when the islands’ trees shadows fell over him. Cool & clam. He had rest, he was fed & he realised that by staying they would not survive and therefore fought to “live” by leaving. The Tiger not looking back when the reached “safety” was a sign that the PI’s “fear” was gone -for now – but did not say goodbye and will, as with his wife, come back if allowed.
    I will look at this movie again & I’m sure every time I’ll get another message of “life” & “faith”.
    Excelent movie/story which leaves one with positive thoughts on our values in life.

  17. The way I see the ending when Pi is laying on the Mexican shore and Richard Parker is looking into the jungle… is that maybe the tiger could be the representation of God, so it was like God was always there with him throught his journey. And like it says in Jeremiah 33:3 ” Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”

  18. This film, the story isn’t interpreting anything. The film is like a mirror, that is only reflecting our own self. More than telling who pi is, who the tiger is, it’s actually telling who we are. The unbeliever sees it as a refutation of faith. The believer sees it as a salvation coming from God. People debate over human nature, our animal self versus our rational self. But whatever happens in the film, one thing we overlook. Pi reads a book wherein there are instuctions and guidance. And that’s exactly what we don’t do anymore. We cling to religious blind faith or to scientific fundamentalism. But we don’t seek understanding….if we have indifference in our hearts, then that understanding will never come. But if you empty your inner-being and search for answers, the answers will come to you. More important than anything is to read. Our guidance is proportionate to our struggle for understanding. That makes us different from an animal: our intellect. But our intellect is overshadowed by our arrogance. Not an interpretation, but a similitude to pi and the tiger in one boat, is that we are also in the same boat with our tiger: our arrogance.

  19. The animal story is real as we all have a concious and subconcious mind – the animals are indicative of our natures – the hyena is our greed, the orangutang our playful side, the wounded zebra is our wounded inner child and the one we feed will be the one to survive. The sea and the storms are the trials and tribulations which we face and if or faith is strong enough, we can survive the storms, a point to note is that after the violent storms there would be peace and something good would come of it,no matter how dark the night, the morning would come bringing sunshine and peace and calm, everything must come to an end. The floating island is friends and family which have appeared to have our interests at heart but turned against us when we needed them the most. The invesigators are the sceptics who pass through our lifes questioning our beliefs. In the end God(whomever you concieve him to be) will reigh supreme.

  20. The animal story is real as we all have a conscious and subconscious mind – the animals are indicative of our natures – the hyena is our greed, the orangutang our playful side, the wounded zebra is our wounded inner child and the one we feed will be the one to survive. The sea and the storms are the trials and tribulations which we face and if or faith is strong enough, we can survive the storms, a point to note is that after the violent storms there would be peace and something good would come of it,no matter how dark the night, the morning would come bringing sunshine and peace and calm, everything must come to an end. The floating island is friends and family which have appeared to have our interests at heart but turned against us when we needed them the most. The invesigators are the sceptics who pass through our lives questioning our beliefs. In the end God(whomever you conceive him to be) will reign supreme.

  21. Too many good (and of course not so good comments) here! I just wanted to share my 2 cents: It’s obvious with a movie so full of wonderful imagery that there are infinite interpretations possible. My position is one that the article posits at the end: that the truth is a mix of the hard facts and the incredible stories that tell a deeper truth not knowable by the facts alone. Both stories begin and end the same. You don’t see a lot of analyses on those facts, which is what I think the whole point of the fantastic stories is in the first place. What does the sinking ship represent? Why does he lose his family, survive, and start a new family? What’s the point of the turn of events, if there is any point to be found at all?

    This is my main problem with most (not all) believers and nonbelievers. They attack others for believing differently than themselves. This movie was splendid in leaving it open for thought, and in a dramatic and very enjoyable fashion. I loved this movie. And I believe reality is exactly like it: a mix of hard facts and amazing truths.

    I’m still feeling Pi’s pain at Charlie Parker leaving him so unceremoniously. Whatever you take it to mean, this scene had the greatest impact on me. That’s how I feel when I hurt over someone who just doesn’t seem to care. It’s something I can truly relate to, and I’m sure I’ve made others feel that way and it breaks my heart.

    Happy Holidays to everyone, believer and nonbeliever alike.

  22. I think it all means- no matter what… dont loose hope.

  23. Just giving out my opinion here. I believe that the true story was the first one/animal one. I understand though that many people see it as irrational and highly unlikely but I find it very important to note that a lot of people are saying that he was using the animals as a way of coping with his self denial of what happened yet almost straight when he’s in the Mexican hospital he can confront it? I’m not an expert on human psychology but to me after spending 227 days in supposed denial him just miraculously excepting it goes against a lot of what people are arguing.

    Another thing that really stuck with me was that when he asked the writer which story he preferred and the writer said the animal one he said thankyou. And I just felt like it was like he was having to create this alternate story for people who didn’t believe him and having someone believe him was so relieving. Because in all honesty how many people do you really believe would believe him. How maddening would it be to ‘know’ something happened and to have no one to believe you so you are forced to create this story which appeals more to their views on what would have happened.

    OH! There’s also mention of tears when he explains the second story to the Japanese guys and the explanation I can think of for that is also one of just being so annoyed that they wouldn’t believe him. Also he did talk about his mother getting killed so you know bit emotional there. But i believe this conveyed more in the book? His annoyance i mean.

    Also mention of body parts or blood or something being cleaned up? I’d just like to point out that he did go through a second storm which might have you know helped. Anyway yeah just my opinion however comments from the story 2 believers really do make me think about the darker side of human belief. Which is quite odd as i’m usually an extremely cynical person.

  24. Regarding the fact that Roger Parker never said goodbye. According to Pi. It might have all been because there was no need to say good-bye. Roger Parker was already a part of Pi, like Pi said “his evil part”, but what he didn’t realize was that Roger Parker not only brought his evil, and revengeful side, he also brought his courageous and self-sufficient side, the fierce part of him that he couldn’t have ever survived without. A part of him that he could have never imagined he possessed but that also saved his live and let him survived the 227 days without entirely loosing his mind, and instead turning this experience into a valuable life lesson.

  25. This film is basically saying…we know deep down that God isn’t real, but there’s nothing wrong with believing in it, because it makes people happier and gives them purpose, if they need it. I personally do NOT need to believe in god, but many people do. I prefer the animal/god story over the truth story, but that doesn’t mean I believe the animal story, and I’m still an atheist.

    There’s a part where he asks the priest, why would god even create us to begin with? What’s the point? And the priest says, all you need to know is that God loves you. This reinforces reality vs faith theme. We are here, and there is no explanation of “why?”, but some people NEED to think that “God” put us here for a reason, while others are fine with accepting that we are just here for no reason.

    • You just voice my opinion…. in better words… :)

  26. i believe that this film shows the conflict between science and religion, Pi grew up witnessing both sides of the argument – his farther believing in science and his mother in religion.

    there are many subtle scenes in the film which hints about how science disrupts people views on religion, an example of this is the scene where Pi tries to feed the tiger in the zoo, there is a certain connection which can be obviously seen between them in their eye contact, but before the connection can be completed his farther (science) rushes in and stops it, in the same way in which the big bang theory rubbishes gods version of the 7 day creation. There are many scenes which hint at this but i wont bore you with them, il let you make you own mind up (bit of Pi humor for you there haha)

    the whole film for me suggests that why believe in what is actually the reality, just have fun, life is an adventure so enjoy it! the second story (science) although is probably true, was only told in the last few minuets of the film, it is very dim and boring.
    where as the first story with the animals (religious) is told in a big elaborate way with lots of colour and adventure,
    possibly hinting at why live life boringly, experiencing only what you allow yourself to see. such as the second story, but maybe if you open your mind to a higher cause (not nesseracy a religion or something) but something that gives your life a purpose such as love, then your life will be filled with colour and adventure such as Pi’s story.

    as for the ending with the tiger just leaving, i feel the writer tries to bring the audience back down to earth in a sense. for a major chunk of the film we are all watching with our heads up in the clouds, for example a massive carnivorous island filled with thousands of meerkats… (possibly hinting at some of the outrageous claims of some religions) but yer… as for the tiger just leaving without saying goodbye, possibly aims towards the scientific view of it just being an animal and not a view of himself or a religious figure or what ever you feel the tiger depicts, thous showing that conflict i spoke of earlier.

    As for the chinese men talking to Pi at the end, i feel this explains why his story is called a story to make you believe in god, At first they ask for a more believable story possibly hinting at the stubborn arrogance of the human race. but in the end they publish his first story which involved the tiger. which hints to my view of why the story makes you believe in god, in a way.

    i would just like to add that im not against any religions or sciences views its just my interpretation of the film.

  27. Why didn’t the starving tiger eat PI at the end, while PI was helpless laying there –instead Richard Parker walked by him–hesitated a moment before going back in the jungle, his natural habitat??

  28. I think the first one is the truth because the way Pi expressed it. And at the end of the movie, they were showing the tiger is thinking of Pi before he went on to the jungle. I read the book, and I still feel the first one Is the truth.

  29. I was wondering what the significance was of 227days at sea and then it hit me. 22 divided by 7 is 3.14!