Part 1 is set in Pondicherry which was renamed Puducherry, and it is still possible to go and see the beautiful Franco-Tamil architecture in that city. There was a zoo in the Botanical Gardens, and in fact, the auteur used the Botanical Gardens to film the zoo scenes in the movie. However, the zoo in the book is mostly fictitious as the Pondicherry Zoo did not have the diverse species described by Pi in the novel. In fact, LitCharts states that it "did not have anything larger than a deer" and certainly no tigers.
Religion faces the same problem.
The Emergency is a plot device. It allows Martel a vehicle to convey the protagonist to a lifeboat as a castaway with a tiger.
Open sea - boredom and terror - paradox.
Boundaries and Identity
Religion and zoos are accused of restricting, but is it not in our best interests, as it is for the animals? We seek surety and comfort in the same manner that animals do.
Martel says we project onto animals because we are puzzled by their consciousness, but recognize that they are not like us. We have a tendency towards anthropomorphism all the time.
Certain illusions about freedom plague them both.
Chapters 8 - 14 deal with animal psychology. The tiger eating the goat. The lion tamer. Prepares Pi for his ordeal but also prepares the reader to understand Pi's survival in part two. Why is this relevant? Pi's father tells him to see animals as animals. Do not see them as humans yet he often likens their behaviour to humans. How is this contradiction related to the themes of the novel? What is this saying about humans and animals?
It is true that those we meet can change us, sometimes so profoundly that we are not the same afterwards, even unto our names.
Witness Simon who is called Peter, Matthew also known as Levi, Nathaniel who is also Bartholomew, Judas, not Iscariot, who took the name Thaddeus, Simeon who went by Niger, Saul who became Paul.
Questions of identity linked to religion once again. Are we who we think we are? Perhaps not.
Piscine is his actual name and it means "pool" in French. In English, its meaning is related to fishes. Both definitions are apt.
Pi renames himself after the humiliating pronounciation of his name becomes unbearable.
It’s Pissing Patel!” ... wearing my crown of thorns.
This metaphor likens his humiliation to that of Jesus. Is this an appropriate metaphor? It is extreme and perhaps offensive to Christians, but ties into the religious symbolism thus far. He shows again how similar man and animals are when he "trains" his peers and teachers to call him Pi through rote and repetition.
At this point, why do you think he has chosen Pi?
Consider the name Pi, which he chose as the alternative: