The lower you are, the higher your mind will want to soar.

Pi narrates these words in chapter 93, toward the end of his ordeal at sea and as he is reaching the depths of his despair. As Pi mentions just before this, his situation seems “as pointless as the weather.” Up to now, Pi’s tedious life at sea has been alleviated somewhat with sporadic new activities: killing fish, taming Richard Parker, creating drinkable water using the solar stills, and so on. More notably, the blind French castaway and the days spent on the floating island gave Pi a change in routine. But now the novelty has worn off. This section, in which nothing is expected to happen, drives Pi into utter hopelessness, yet he must continue living.

At this point Pi turns to God and, Martel implies, invents the story that we have just read. His mind is desperate to escape the physical reality of continued existence on the lifeboat, and so it soars into the realm of fiction. At his lowest point, Pi reaches for the only remaining sources of salvation available to him: faith and imagination. Through the plot’s remaining action, Martel emphasizes that such a strategy for self-preservation can actually be astonishingly effective. Immediately after this moment in the text, Pi lands on a beach in Mexico. Like a deus ex machina suddenly offering resolution in an ancient Greek play, the religion of storytelling is Pi’s escape hatch, rescuing him from the depths of his misery.