Francis Adirubasamy, whom Pi affectionately refers to as Mamaji, is a man of significant importance not only to the action of the novel, but to the development of Pi’s identity as well. More than anything, Mamaji serves as a guiding figure, or mentor, for both Pi and the Author. The passion and care he shows toward his swimming protégé and his newfound Canadian friend ultimately set them up to overcome the distinct challenges they each face. Mamaji’s influence is thoroughly interwoven in the fabric of Pi’s life, from inspiring the name Piscine Molitor Patel to offering years of personal swimming instruction. This lifelong, mutual love of water, one which no one in Pi’s immediate family shares, emphasizes just how crucial Mamaji’s influence is when it comes to Pi’s ability to survive at sea. The fact that Pi’s name comes from “a pool the gods would have delighted to swim in” suggests that swimming and a sense of extraordinariness are qualities essential to his identity, all thanks to Mamaji. The sensibilities around water that Pi develops as part of his swimming training allow him to stay alive when he jumps out of the lifeboat and into the ocean. Were it not for Mamaji’s eagerness and dedication as a mentor, Pi may have succumbed to a much different fate.

Mamaji’s identity as a guiding figure extends past Pi’s ordeal at sea and into his adulthood as well. He takes on a paternal role in the wake of the Patel family’s deaths and represents Pi’s strongest connection to his childhood in India, salvaging family photos and preserving key memories. As a symbol of the past, Mamaji’s influence in Pi’s adult life suggests the importance of remembrance, no matter how painful it may be. Rather than blocking out his mentor and the world he represents, Pi embraces and uses them as the basis of his storytelling. This warm relationship ultimately allows Mamaji to connect him with the Author. He serves as the mastermind behind the Author’s success by acting as the novel’s catalyst, offering him “a story that will make [him] believe in God.” Mamaji’s touch ultimately impacts the entire text, even though he only appears briefly.