Truth & Perception vs. Reality

This group will be watching for contrasts throughout the book: truth/perception vs. reality, the dual narratives, the interspersed description of the older Pi in places, the word choices that seem in conflict with the mood, etc.


the class of literature comprising works of imaginative narration, esp. in prose form.
works of this class, as novels or short stories: detective fiction.
something feigned, invented, or imagined; a made-up story: We've all heard the fiction of her being in delicate health.
the act of feigning, inventing, or imagining.
an imaginary thing or event, postulated for the purposes of argument or explanation.


the branch of literature comprising works of narrative prose dealing with or offering opinions or conjectures upon facts and reality, including biography, history, and the essay (opposed to fiction and distinguished from poetry and drama).
works of this class: She had read all of his novels but none of his nonfiction.
(esp. in cataloging books, as in a library or bookstore) all writing or books not fiction, poetry, or drama, including nonfictive narrative prose and reference works; the broadest category of written works.
I notice that you have listed the definitions of fiction and non-fiction. I am curious to hear about your connection and reason for putting the definitions here.

Our Group came to the conclusion that the author uses both fiction and non fiction throughout his novel for the purpose of creating a clear difference between what is percieved to be real and what actually is real. This sparked another question within our discussion...what is truth?
-Katie M.

*1&2: Simply what makes Pi tick
*3: First view of deception ~ Ravi, Pi's brother, says that Mamaji, Francis Adirvbasamy, one of fathers earliest buisness friends, was born breathing water and thusly he is a good swimmer. Since Pi's name is a swimming pool and the fact that Pi becomes a swimmer but doesn't get any attention from doing so, is this also tied into this first deception?
  • *"My brother Ravi once told me that when Mamaji was born he didn't want to give up on breathing water and so the doctor, to save his life, had to take him by the feet and swing him above his head round and round.'It did the trick!' said Ravi, wildly spinning his hand above his head. 'He coughed out water and started breathing air, but it forced all his flesh and blood to this upper body. That's why his chest is so thick and his legs are so skinny.' I believed him." (ch3,pg10, first ¶)

*4: Zoo description. Are all the animal thoughts true or are they an overexaggeration? If they are not reality, has he made them up to shealter his own lifelong problems?
His discussion from pages 19 - 24 about if animals would be happier in the wild or in a zoo may be a direct corralation to his life in that he was forced into doing wild, or crazy things when all he wanted was a place to call home, and a nice steady environment where you always know what you will get. I think this is an interesting idea. Do you think it is foreshadowing events to come where he will long to be in a place where he is safe and cared for?
*Denise M. and Hannah Y.

*5: Pi spelling out his name. When Pi goes up to the board to simply spell his name instead of saying it out loud it seems a little exagerated. "and I drew a large circle, which I then sliced in two with a diameter, to evoko the basic lesson of geometry." (29 Martel) It's not ever often that someone would make such a big deal out of a name. The way Pi presents it may just be his vision of what he wanted to do and to make the story more interesting he told the readers the story like it actually happened. It was exaggerated; you are exactly right. He even gets reprimanded from his teachers for getting out of his seat and writing on the board. Why does he deliberately risk this ridicule to "draw" his name instead of answering that he was simply "here" in class?
*Looking back on this chapter has made me realize how Pi likes to do things in big ways. With his story telling to the reporters and this story about his name have a lot in common because they aren't exactly true. It's like Pi just tells you what will make you listen. *Hannah Y
--Pi risks standing up and going to the board when his name is called, because he wants to make a new name for himself, and he thought doing something as bold and risky would be remembered by all. Pi is tired of being ridiculed by his peers, so he decides to get ridiculed one last time in order to create a new identity.
Sierra M., Zach V.

*6: A description of a kitchen and food...Curious, where you were going with this?

*7: Mr. Kumar tells Pi that religion is darkness. Pi thinks that religion will save him but will Mr. Kumar change his opinion? Pi may be misunderstanding Mr. Kumar because he thinks it might just be a test. It confuses him to think that someone doesn't believe in religion. Is religion in this story a perception to Pi or a reality? Is this forshadowing to how religion will save Pi?

*8: "Do you know which is the most dangerous animal in the zoo?" (39 Martel). We are. Are we animals? First of all, would a father really be that dramatic and take a goat from the hippos to teach his family a lesson? It seems very harsh that a father would allow his two sons to see such a depressing event. Why would he use one of his own animals from his zoo? The father could've used an alternative way to teach his lesson. To show a violent and painful death may not be the truth. Since we all know this book will soon turn into a story about Pi and Tiger stuck on a boat in the ocean maybe this explains why Pi fears Tiger. He's the goat-

"We caught a man with a knife climbing into the pen for mouse deer; he said he was going to punish evil Ravana (who in the Ramayana took the form of a deer when he kidnapped Sita, Rama's consort)." (Martel 37). Ravana was the king of Lanka thousands of years ago. He was a ten-headed demon king of Ceylon in Hindu myth. With his forces he kidnaps Sita, but she is rescued by Rama, who ends up killing Ravana. His ten heads signify his knowledge spanning in all ten directions. Ravana conquers and humiliates thousands of kings across India, building Lanka's empire which dominates over the rest of the world. <>
external image 200px-Ravana.jpg

~Sierra M., Zach V., Kylee M., Kim N., and Meaghan K.

*9: Facts on how close you can get to animals without scaring them.
*Hannah Y. and Denise M.

When Pi changes his name in his new school, he gets a new view of himself. He is still the same person, but he views himself as being free and no longer a target for bullies. But even with this new view of a simple thing he stills has a paranoia for being picked on about his name, which shows through his fear that his brother will tell people about "Lemon Pie". He views the mathematical symbol for Pi as a refuge (page 30). This shows his perception of the importance of his name.
Alex H.

In the initial 50 pages of the novel, Life of Pi, Pi has mentioned Richard Parker twice. Once when he says, “Richard Parker has stayed with me. I’ve never forgotten him. Dare I say I miss him? I do. I miss him. I still see him in my dreams. They are nightmares mostly, but nightmares tinged with love” (Martel 7). The second time he mentions him, Pi says, “I learned the lesson that an animal is an animal, essentially and practically removed from us, twice: once with Father and once with Richard Parker” (Martel 39). This makes me question-- Who is Richard Parker? Is he human, or is he figment of Pi’s imagination, or is he an animal? If he is an animal, could he be the tiger that Pi later meets? If so, why does he name him Richard Parker? Did he name, the tiger like we name our pets, making the animal almost like a human? Has he become so attached to Richard Parker that he has created the perception in his mind that Richard is a human? Is Richard Parker an old enemy and does Pi name the tiger Richard Parker because he thinks of the tiger in the same way as he does Richard Parker?
Elizabeth B. - - "truth is the true or actual state of a matter; conformity with fact or reality; a verified or indisputable fact, proposition or principle; the state or character of being true; actuality or actual existence; an obvious or accepted fact, truism; honesty, integrity, truthfulness; ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience; in reality, in fact; actually" (
Cody B.

Pi seems to find the truth within everything and bring it back to reality. For example when he explained how the animals in the zoo were not captive creatures with dreams of being free, but those that were probably living in the best situations they could. The way pi analyzes all situations and beliefs allows him to learn from contrasts. Such as religion and science. Both have completey different views in certain ares, but pi takes pieces of both and is able to learn and understand life through them.
Collin M.

When Pi and Mr. Kumar are talking in the zoo, they discuss very heavily (and one-sidedly) about atheism. Mr. Kumar belives solely in science because it is tangible, something real that he can see and touch, therefore trustworthy. Coming from his perspective (surviving polio as a child), it makes sense that he didn't see "God" in any way, shape, or form. Mr. Kumar then put his logic into reason and fact rather than belief. But going against that, science doesn't explain, it simply is. Religion tends to deal with the "why" questions in life while science deals with the "how" questions. Simply because "God" is not tangible doesn't necessarily means he/she exists. And how would one explain the origin of science and the origin of reason? In this case, Mr. Kumar is looking for answers more than reason, because he looks shallowly at life. He does not imagine anything beyond what's in front of him. As Pi contrasts his beliefs with Mr. Kumar's, the questions occurs: is truth different because of perspective, or is there a universal truth for every living thing? Pi later discusses his issue with agnostics. The best quote about this: "To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transporting" (Martel 36). To put one's belief in doubt does seem silly, but logical in most cases because there is no tangible proof of an existing "God". As reality is concerned, religions and atheism both serve the same purpose, to act as one's belief system, even if they are opposites. Truth in this case cannot be defined, for every single person has a different persepective of "what's beyond" our realm of senses, or even if there's anything at all. Perhaps, accepting all forms of belief is necessary to understand the complexity of a (possible) superior being.
Jeffrey H.

Hey guys, check out what I found about "Richard Parker"

external image 0151008116.01._PE34_OU01_SCTZZZZZZZ_.jpg People have asked me how the tiger in my novel //Life of Pi// came to be called Richard Parker. I didn't just pull the name out of a hat. In fact, Richard Parker's name is the result of a triple coincidence.
In 1884, the Mignonette , a yacht, set sail from Southampton, England, for Australia. She had a crew of four. In the South Atlantic, the seas were heavy. Wave after wave struck the vessel. Suddenly, she broke apart and sank. Captain, mate, hand, and cabin boy managed to scramble aboard a dinghy--but without water or provisions except for two cans of turnips. After 19 days adrift, starving and desperate, the captain killed the cabin boy, who was unconscious and had no dependents, and the three remaining survivors ate him. The cabin boy's name was Richard Parker. His fate, in itself, is not particularly noteworthy. Cannibalism on the high seas was surprisingly common at the time. The reason Richard Parker--or, more accurately, "the case of the Mignonette "--has gone down in history, at least in knowledgeable legal circles, is that upon their return to England, the survivors (they were rescued shortly after killing R.P. by a Swedish ship) were tried for murder, a first. Up till then, murder committed under duress, because of severe necessity, was informally accepted as justifiable. But with the Mignonette , the powers-that-be decided to examine the question more closely. The case went all the way to the Lords and set a legal precedent. The captain was found guilty of murder. To this day, the only excuse for murder remains self-defense, and any British legal team that tries to argue otherwise will get a lecture from the judge about the Mignonette . Murder committed in extreme circumstances for the sake of sustaining life remains illegal (though those who commit it usually get light sentences). That's one Richard Parker.
Fifty years earlier, in 1837, Edgar Allan Poe published his only novel, //The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym//. It was a commission that quickly lost Poe's interest. He finished it with a mix of reluctance and slapdash hurry that is not a recipe for great literature. Pym is a sloppy work that would have vanished without a trace if weren't for its author's fame. In the story, the ship upon which Pym and a friend set sail from Nantucket overturns in a storm. Survivors cling to the hull. After several days, hunger and despair push Pym and his friend to eat a third man. His name is Richard Parker. Remember, Poe wrote Pym 50 years before the sinking of the Mignonette .
And then there was the Francis Speight , a ship that foundered in 1846. There were deaths and cannibalism aboard. One of the victims was a Richard Parker.
So many victimized Richard Parkers had to mean something. My tiger found his name. He's a victim, too--or is he?
So, Martel veiws the tiger as the victim. We'll have to see if we agree. Alex H.