Life of Pi

by: Yann Martel

Ravi

In years subsequent, when he was in the mood to terrorize me, he would whisper to me, “Just wait till we’re alone.You’re the next goat!”

After Father imparts the lesson about how dangerous the tiger is by allowing it to ravage a goat, Ravi draws upon memories of the bloody scene to bully his younger brother. Ravi’s character as popular, sporty, and mischievous stands in contrast to Pi’s contemplative nature. Here, in Pi’s memory of Ravi’s teasing, Ravi uses the unsettling experience of the goat as a means to reinforce his power over his younger brother.

Why can’t he have the normal interests of a boy his age? Look at Ravi. All he can think about is cricket, movies, and music.

As Pi’s parents compare their two sons, they reveal that they prefer Ravi’s typical teenage tastes for sports and popular entertainment to Pi’s passion for exploring religions. In recalling the family’s life in India, Pi makes clear his parents considered Ravi “better” than him. Ravi’s popularity, interests in common with other teenage boys, and competence in activities that his peers value make him easy to understand.

Ravi spent his days there, watching the men work. Something was wrong with the engines, he said.

On the boat, the reader sees a different side to Ravi than just the fun-loving, sporty teen. Pi’s memory here, one of the few that mentions Ravi on the boat, reveals Ravi’s interest in mechanical things. Further, Ravi demonstrates an astuteness about what he sees: His detection of a fault with the engines foreshadows and underscores the tragedy of the ship’s sinking.

Normally I would have gone back to sleep. I don’t know why I got up that night. It was more the sort of thing Ravi would do. He liked the wordbeckon;he would have said, “Adventure beckons,” and would have gone off to prowl around the ship.

Pi reflects how, on the night of the ship’s sinking, he woke up to a noise and investigated, providing the opportunity to share more about Ravi’s personality. He views his brother as curious and courageous, likely to embrace the unknown. These personality traits are the last we learn about Ravi, making his imminent death more poignant, for Ravi would seem to be well-equipped to start a new life in Canada.

To lose a brother is to lose someone with whom you can share the experience of growing old, who is supposed to bring you a sister-in-law and nieces and nephews, creatures to people the tree of your life and give it new branches.

At the end of the second day in the lifeboat, Pi acknowledges that his family must be dead and contemplates the meaning of their loss. Before now, Pi had referred to Ravi in ways typical of a younger sibling. Here, however, Pi expresses sentiments that show true connection as well as a shared future. Despite the boys’ disparate interests and despite Ravi’s incessant teasing, Pi expected to maintain a close relationship with his brother throughout their lives.