The list of various characters from the book are Piscine “Pi” Molitor Patel, Richard Parker, Francis Adirubaswamy, Ravi (Pi’s older brother), Santhosh Patel(Pi’s father), Gita Patel (Pi’s mother), Satish Kumar (biology teacher), Francis Martin(priest), Satish Kumar (Muslim mystic with same name as the teacher), Hindu Pandit, Meena Patel (Pi’s wife), Nikhil Patel (Pi’s son), Usha Patel (Pi’s daughter), the hyena, the zebra, Orange Juice (the orangutan), the blind Frenchman, Tomohiro Okamoto, Atsuro Chiba, the cook, and the sailor. From these, the two main characters are Piscine Molitor Patel and Richard Parker.
Pi – Piscine Molitor Patel or Pi’s name comes from the name of a swimming pool in Pondicherry that was given to him by his father’s friend. He is the youngest son in the Patel family that owns a zoo. Pi is the narrator as well as the protagonist of this story. While growing up, he is portrayed as deeply religious and follows three faiths Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity.
The entire story is based on Pi’s perception of the real and unreal with the shipwreck changing his life forever when he is left with his only companion, Richard Parker the tiger on the life boat. But his zoological knowledge helps him to survive the journey on the Pacific Ocean for 227 days with a carnivorous animal.
Moreover, his dialogues with God and Richard Parker make him come across as philosophical and at peace with his struggle to survive. But the end of the story makes us question Pi’s magical world versus reality.
Was the tiger real or just fabricated to cover up his act of cannibalism? It also makes us understand Piscine’s love for stories. Pi comes across as a positive person. He doesn’t even let his country’s depressive nature affect his will to survive. He simply survives due to his tolerance and faith in all the religions, making him stronger at sea.
Richard Parker – Richard Parker is a tiger from the Pondicherry Zoo that was owned by Piscine’s father. After the shipwreck, he is the only other survivor along with Pi who becomes his travel companion. The narrative continuously makes us question the existence of Parker on the boat. Is he real or does he just exist in Pi’s imagination? There’s also doubt about whether in the beginning of the novel whether Richard Parker is the hunter who named the tiger.
Richard’s character has all the traits of a wild cat with a calmer nature since he was captured at the age of 3. Even though Pi and Parker develop a love and hate relationship, the end shows that Parker as just an animal who needs his basic needs for food and water met. He even parts from Pi without even looking back.