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You want a flat story.” When Pi gives them the flat story they want, a story that fails to contradict what they are prepared to believe, the men become excited by the prospect that this second version is the truth.However, Pi is not finished with them or their skepticism.
” The men agree that the story with animals is superior, which prompts Pi to add, “And so it goes with God.” This is faith, Pi seems to say.
Since it is the nature of religious faith that it can never be proven, just as the facts of Pi’s journey across the Pacific can never be verified, the question is not a matter of reason but of belief.
This theme is embodied most clearly in the novel’s protagonist, Pi Patel, who is a devout follower of three very different religions.
Pi has studied and memorized the stories of all the various incarnations of the Hindu gods, maintaining shrines in his home to many of them.
This tension between reason, logic, and argument, on one hand, and simple religious faith and the desire to love God, on the other hand, lies at the novel’s core.
The human capacity for reason is contrasted to religious faith repeatedly, nowhere more poignantly than in the chapters showing Pi adrift on the Pacific Ocean, where his faith, not his reason, enables Pi to survive: I was alone and orphaned in the middle of the Pacific hanging onto an oar, an adult tiger in front of me, sharks beneath me, a storm raging about me.The religions resemble different chapters of one very long book, each chapter setting up and feeding into the next.The novel contrasts Pi’s easy acceptance of his three faiths with the competition and arguments between the leaders of those faiths.He also possesses a crucifix and a rosary, going to church on Sundays and praying to Jesus.Lastly, he owns and proudly uses a prayer rug, observing the call to prayer several times a day as a devoted Muslim. However, the novel pointedly refrains from advocating any single religious faith over another.Instead, the novel investigates the nature of religious faith itself.In Munnar, while Pi is walking in a busy marketplace with his parents, they happen upon the pandit, imam, and priest who are the leaders of Pi’s Hindu, Muslim, and Christian faiths, respectively.When the leaders discover that Pi has been following three different religions, each attempts to claim Pi for himself.A skeptical attitude toward the narrative is embodied by Mr. Chiba, who at first refuse to believe Pi’s stories about a Bengal tiger and carnivorous algae.They insist that his story contradicts reality, to which Pi replies, “You want a story that won’t surprise you. That won’t make you see higher or further or differently.