Australian Council on Children and the Media

The Life of Pi

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What’s it about?

Pi is a young boy who grows up with his family in a zoo in Pondicherry, India. He’s very curious about the animals and takes great interest in them. When he’s a teenager, his father decides he must sell the zoo and move his family to Canada. The animals are all packed on to a freight ship with Pi and his family but disaster strikes when a wild storm blows up and sinks the ship.

Pi somehow manages to survive and finds himself on a lifeboat with a hyena, a zebra with a broken leg and an orang-utan. Pi also manages to save Richard Parker, a Bengal tiger, with whom he now has to share the lifeboat.  The animals fight and are killed leaving only Pi and the tiger. Pi has to use great resourcefulness and courage to survive months at sea with the tiger.

What to look out for

Quite a lot of violent and scary scenes involving animals such as:

  • Pi’s father wants to teach him a lesson about tigers so he makes him watch while he feeds a live goat to the tiger. The goat screams in fear.
  • When the boat sinks a lot of the animals drown and are shown being attacked by sharks.
  • Pi’s family all drown.
  • The hyena savagely attacks the zebra and the orang-utan killing them both. Richard Parker kills the hyena.
  • Richard Parker threatens Pi on several occasions.

Moral of the Story

The message of the story is that people are capable of both great acts of self-sacrifice and friendship as well as acts of great evil.  

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