Richard Parker - The Royal Bengal tiger with whom Pi shares his lifeboat. His captor, Richard Parker, named him Thirsty, but a shipping clerk made a mistake and reversed their names. From then on, at the Pondicherry Zoo, he was known as Richard Parker. Weighing 450 pounds and about nine feet long, he kills the hyena on the lifeboat and the blind cannibal. With Pi, however, Richard Parker acts as an omega, or submissive, animal, respecting Pi’s dominance.
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The Author - The narrator of the (fictitious) Author’s Note, who inserts himself into the narrative at several points throughout the text. Though the author who pens the Author’s Note never identifies himself by name, there are many clues that indicate it is Yann Martel himself, thinly disguised: he lives in Canada, has published two books, and was inspired to write Pi’s life story during a trip to India.
Francis Adirubasamy - The elderly man who tells the author Pi’s story during a chance meeting in a Pondicherry coffee shop. He taught Pi to swim as a child and bestowed upon him his unusual moniker. He arranges for the author to meet Pi in person, so as to get a first-person account of his strange and compelling tale. Pi calls him Mamaji, an Indian term that means respected uncle.
Ravi - Pi’s older brother. Ravi prefers sports to schoolwork and is quite popular. He teases his younger brother mercilessly over his devotion to three religions.
Santosh Patel - Pi’s father. He once owned a Madras hotel, but because of his deep interest in animals decided to run the Pondicherry Zoo. A worrier by nature, he teaches his sons not only to care for and control wild animals, but to fear them. Though raised a Hindu, he is not religious and is puzzled by Pi’s adoption of numerous religions. The difficult conditions in India lead him to move his family to Canada.
Gita Patel - Pi’s beloved mother and protector. A book lover, she encourages Pi to read widely. Raised Hindu with a Baptist education, she does not subscribe to any religion and questions Pi’s religious declarations. She speaks her mind, letting her husband know when she disagrees with his parenting techniques. When Pi relates another version of his story to his rescuers, she takes the place of Orange Juice on the lifeboat.
Satish Kumar - Pi’s atheistic biology teacher at Petit Séminaire, a secondary school in Pondicherry. A polio survivor, he is an odd-looking man, with a body shaped like a triangle. His devotion to the power of scientific inquiry and explanation inspires Pi to study zoology in college.
Father Martin - The Catholic priest who introduces Pi to Christianity after Pi wanders into his church. He preaches a message of love. He, the Muslim Mr. Kumar, and the Hindu pandit disagree about whose religion Pi should practice.
Satish Kumar - A plain-featured Muslim mystic with the same name as Pi’s biology teacher. He works in a bakery. Like the other Mr. Kumar, this one has a strong effect on Pi’s academic plans: his faith leads Pi to study religion at college.
The Hindu Pandit - One of three important religious figures in the novel. Never given a name, he is outraged when Pi, who was raised Hindu, begins practicing other religions. He and the other two religious