As his older brother, Ravi is about as different from Pi as two brothers could be. While Pi is deeply contemplative and introspective, Ravi is a representation of the typical teenage boy with interests in sports and other social activities. These characteristics set a precedent for Pi as the younger sibling both at home and at school, but he continually expresses frustration toward the notion that he should follow in his brother’s footsteps. Although Ravi’s appearances in the novel’s plot are relatively minimal, his presence is significant because the stark contrast between him and Pi heightens the sense of Pi’s exceptionality. Putting the image of an average teenager next to Pi enables the reader to understand just how unique he truly is. The fact that Ravi incessantly teases his younger brother and that both their classmates and parents seem to gravitate toward the more “normal” brother further exacerbates Pi’s difference: he becomes a kind of outcast because of it. By using Ravi’s character as a foil for Pi, Martel is able to establish his protagonist as someone who is unparalleled, making it possible for readers to later believe in the extraordinariness of his survival at sea.
Despite the tension that exists between the brothers, Pi seems to have a soft spot for Ravi as well. He attempts to wake him during the night when he hears a strange noise aboard the Tsimtsum, knowing that, in addition to his sense of adventure, he had been interested in the men’s work in the engine room. Pi also mourns the loss of his brother after he realizes that his family died when the ship sank, lamenting the fact that they would no longer be able to go through life together. These examples reveal a deep, familial bond that unites Pi and Ravi despite the surface-level disparities between their characters. Losing this relationship, the one remaining connection he had with others as the Patels left India, leaves Pi completely isolated and finalizes his separation from civilization as a whole.