Skip to main content


Through the combination of Western and Eastern religious philosophies in Life of Pi, the main character has a story that will “make anyone believe in God” because he does not constrict God to one category; by trying to simply log God, he uncovers the complexity of God’s nature through duality.

In the beginning of Life of Pi, the main character (named Pi) demonstrates open-mindedness towards all religions and expresses his belief in three separate religions: Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. There are distinct appearances of these three religions within the book, but there are subliminal signs of Judaism included, especially when Martel chooses to name the sunken ship Tsimtsum. According to Aryeh Wineman (1996), the definition of tsimtsum is as follows: “God’s act of distancing Himself from the world is but a contrived appearance to effect greater love and mutual delight between God and man.” Pi strives to understand the entirety of God’s infinite wisdom, which makes him a dangerous imbalance to nature; because of this, the universe’s natural reaction is to throw this finite soul into spiritual chaos, which causes Tsimtsum to sink. By doing this, the balance is restored, and the finite soul is snapped back into its restricted spiritual place.

Seyed Habibi and Sara Karbalaei (2014) state, “All of these religions teach people how to love God, [and] these three distinct religions are metaphorically substitutional in his scheme of belief.” Marilyn Herbert (2007) also argues that Martel structures his entire novel around the number three; there are nine interjections from the narrator (a variable of three), three significant religions, and even Pi’s name represents a number that begins with three, and there seems to be only three religions mentioned. Martel breaks the concept of the number “three” when he incorporates the concept of religion, with Judaism being the fourth religion that breaks the reoccurring appearance of the number three. Ultimately, he uses these three religions to draw a connection to the concept of tsimtsum. This subtle break from the number three reinforces the idea that there are multiple, unending ways to love God.


File nameDate UploadedVisibilityFile size
19 Jul 2022
324 kB



  • Subject
    • English

  • Institution
    • Dahlonega

  • Event location
    • Library Technology Center 382

  • Event date
    • 24 March 2017

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Dr. Donna Gessell