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LIFE OF PI - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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LIFE OF PI. Section A: Text Response. Exam Requirements. Respond to this section second, after Section C Read and digest the topics VERY carefully, be aware of the FOCUS of the questions and what TYPE of questions they are Your response should NOT be under 2 pages. Aim for 3-4 pages.

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Section A:

Text Response

Exam Requirements

  • Respond to this section second, after Section C

  • Read and digest the topics VERY carefully, be aware of the FOCUS of the questions and what TYPE of questions they are

  • Your response should NOT be under 2 pages. Aim for 3-4 pages

How to score a 9 or 10

  • Demonstrates a close and perceptive reading of the text, exploring complexities of its concepts and construction.

  • Demonstrates an understanding of the implications of the topic, using an appropriate strategy for dealing with it, and exploring its complexity from the basis of the text.

  • Develops a cogent, controlled and well-substantiated discussion using precise and expressive language.

The FOCUS of the Topic






TYPES of topics

  • QUOTE – you do not have to repeat the quote in your response, but you MUST acknowledge its meaning and context

  • TO WHAT EXTENT DO YOU AGREE? – Do not be tempted to include yourself or become argumentative. Don’t sit on the fence but also allow yourself to discuss multiple interpretations


  • HOW DOES THE AUTHOR – Asking you to reference the construction of the text, to use the novel’s conventions and author’s style as the basis of your discussion.

  • DISCUSS – Present the most sophisticated ideas in a discursive fashion

What NOT to do

  • Be argumentative

  • Be judgmental

  • Be complimentary to the author

  • Ignore parts of the topic

  • Retell the plot

  • Try and use everything you know

Example Topics

  • How does Martel, in his text ‘Life of Pi’, suggest that a ‘better story’ is more important than the truth?

  • FOCUS = Values (with themes of storytelling and reality)

  • TYPE = ‘How does the author’ and Quote

Example Topic

  • Richard Parker is essential to Pi’s survival. Discuss.

  • FOCUS = Character (with ideas of survival)

  • TYPE = Discuss

Example Topic

  • “We believe what we see.” To what extent is sensory belief questioned in ‘Life of Pi’?

  • FOCUS – Themes/Ideas (belief, religion, storytelling, science)

  • TYPE – ‘To what extent’ and Quote


  • Identify FOCUS and TYPE of topic

  • Identify key terms in topic

  • Brainstorm the MOST sophisticated ideas, not necessarily the most rehearsed or easiest

  • Determine paragraph ideas

  • Link Quotes, Values and Structural Features to your ideas


  • Pi survives because of his faith; his faith gives him the ability to have hope.

  • However, Pi’s ability to have faith in multiple religions (something quite out of the ordinary) is questioned at the beginning by those who hold faith in only one religion.

  • It is possible that Pi survives his time at sea because of his ability to have faith in all possibilities (where others don’t).


  • Pi, and in essence, Martel, points out (via discussions about agnostics) that it is important to believe in something; to have faith in one’s convictions.

  • The reader is not forced to believe Pi’s tale of survival – but by the end are asked to question their own ideas on what is possible

  • While the text is designed to ‘make you believe in God’, it is also implied that God is everywhere and especially in miraculous events and undiscovered territory.


  • The text is carefully crafted to stimulate the reader’s belief in the characters and the events that take place.

  • Okamoto and Chiba are the reader’s ‘reality check’ – however they are painted as foolish, bumbling and unspiritual. Here though, the reader is not judged for believing Pi’s tale or not – but they are asked to acknowledge the possibility of things beyond their realm of belief.


  • Pi’s prayers help create routine – and as a scientist he believes in the logic of order

  • While it is possible that RP represents fear, it is also possible that he represents a God

  • Pi’s love of storytelling stems from his passion for religion. If Pi’s alternate story, where he is RP, is the true version of events, then his ability to create such a protective and wild fantasy is a result of his religious beliefs.


  • Pi believes in ‘the harmony of order’.

  • He is a scientist and was brought up to believe in behavioural science, both of animals and humans

  • His name is symbolic of the irregular relationship he has with religion and science, as well as the endless possibilities for both

  • He survives by routine, lists, manuals and plans


  • Pi details how religion and zoos are no longer in people’s ‘good graces’ – both are misunderstood as places of captivity

  • He also believes, scientifically, that man is the ‘most dangerous’ animal; that while animals can be instinctively dangerous, man can be purposely cruel.

  • Although Pi knows the rules of anthropomorphism, he is still disappointed when RP leaves him so ‘unceremoniously’.

  • Both disciplines that Pi end up studying in Toronto, Zoology and Religion, are concerned with mystery and wonder.


  • RP’s interaction with Pi is one of biological necessity

  • Their co-dependence brings Pi a sense of ‘wholeness’

  • RP’s name gives the illusion of humanity (and elements of humour to the construction of the text)

  • Pi mourns RP as not only one who ‘saved’ him, but also as the last link to his former life and family


  • If the alternative story is the true version, then RP is Pi’s created alter-ego.

  • RP, represents all the ugly parts of Pi’s survival. He commits murder, cannibalism, and breaks religious convictions, on Pi’s behalf.

  • He makes himself into a Bengal Tiger, the most ferocious animal in the zoo.

  • Once he hits dry land, he no longer needs to hide behind RP – and this side of Pi is never seen again.


  • The three sections and exactly 100 chapters reflect Pi’s belief in order

  • The ‘author’s note’ as a deceptive tool – uses thank yous and confessions as credibility

  • Humour as a celebration of life and all it’s avenues, possibilities and characters

  • Pi’s time in Pondicherry spoon-feeds the reader ‘facts’ to make his survival more believable. Eg, focus on swimming, lessons about alpha-male behaviour and territory

  • Pi’s voice has a matter-of-fact quality that contrasts sharply with the tale he is relating


  • Good stories stretch a reader’s ability to suspend disbelief

  • Stories are adapted to suit their context; you can take from them whatever meaning you wish

  • Language, particularly words, are important in the storytelling process. They can be chosen for their meaning (‘Pi’), their nuance (‘Richard Parker’) or their sonic effect (‘figment’, ‘fig’).


  • It is important to believe in something

  • Belief and Reason are more closely related than most believe

  • Science and Religion have more in common than people think – it is the dialogue, the words, the semantics, that surround them that make them seem so different.

  • No one can survive alone

  • Faith is ‘an opening up, a letting go, a deep trust, a free act of love’


  • Life is important to fight for

  • One would be foolish to only believe in what they can see

  • The small things, the smells in a house, or the colours of the ocean, are beautiful, miraculous and shouldn’t be missed

  • Humans are the most dangerous creature yet discovered

  • Sometimes the ‘better story’ is more important than the truth

  • Pi and the author’s ‘hunger’ is for meaning; stressing the importance of looking for more to believe in, having a thirst for life (as opposed to ‘dry, yeastless factuality’)


  • Anything is possible

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