Yann Martel’s Life of Pi is certainly one of the most popular contemporary titles out there. The winner of the 2002 Booker Prize for fiction, it gained even more fans after it was adapted into a film. It was actually through the film that I have learned about the story. I liked the philosophical intersections of the movie but it was not until 2021 that I was able to read its published text. The book was also a well for memorable and quotable lines and passages. I have rounded some of these lines that made an impression on me. Without more ado, here are some quotable quotes from Life of Pi.
Do check out my complete review of this literary work by clicking here.
“I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always … so you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.”~ Yann Martel, Life of Pi
“The tennis challenger starts strong but soon loses confidence in his playing. The champion racks up the games. But in the final set, when the challenger has nothing left to lose, he becomes relaxed again. Insouciant. Daring. Suddenly he’s playing like the devil and the champion must work hard to get those last points.”~ Yann Martel, Life of Pi
“I went about the job in a direct way. I took the hatchet in both my hands and vigorously beat the fish on the head with the hammerhead (I still didn’t have the stomach to use the sharp edge). The dorado did the most extraordinary thing as it died: it began to flash all kinds of colours in rapid succession. Blue, green, red, gold, and violet flickered and shimmered neon-like on its surface as it struggled. I felt I was beating a rainbow to death.”~ Yann Martel, Life of Pi
“The worst pair of opposites is boredom and terror. Sometimes your life is a pendulum swing from one to the other. The sea is without a wrinkle. There is not a whisper of wind. The hours last forever. You are so bored you sink into a state of apathy close to a coma. Then the sea becomes rough and your emotions are whipped into a frenzy. Yet even these two opposites do not remain distinct. In your boredom there are elements of terror: you break down into tears; you are filled with dread; you scream; you deliberately hurt yourself And in the grip of terror—the worst storm—you yet feel boredom, a deep weariness with it all.”~ Yann Martel, Life of Pi
“How bitterly glad I am to see you. You bring joy and pain in equal measure. Joy because you are with me, but pain because it won’t be for long. What do you know about the sea? Nothing. What do I know about the sea? Nothing. Without a driver this bus is lost. Our lives are over. Come aboard if your destination is oblivion – It should be our next stop. We can sit together. You can have the window seat, if you want. But it’s a sad view. Oh enough of this disembling. Let me say plainly: I love you, I love you, I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you. Not the spiders, please.”~ Yann Martel, Life of Pi
“The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biological necessity — it’s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud.”mes. But in the final set, when the challenger has nothing left to lose, he becomes relaxed again. Insouciant. Daring. Suddenly he’s playing like the devil and the champion must work hard to get those last points.”~ Yann Martel, Life of Pi
“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 who people the tree of your life and give it new branches. To lose your father is to lose the one whose guidance and help you seek, who supports you like a tree trunk supports its branches. To lose your mother, well, that is like losing the sun above you. It is like losing-I’m sorry, I would rather not go on”~ Yann Martel, Life of Pi
“I was giving up. I would have given up – if a voice hadn’t made itself heard in my heart. The voice said “I will not die. I refuse it. I will make it through this nightmare. I will beat the odds, as great as they are. I have survived so far, miraculously. Now I will turn miracle into routine. The amazing will be seen everyday. I will put in all the hard work necessary. Yes, so long as God is with me, I will not die. Amen.”~ Yann Martel, Life of Pi
“These people fail to realize that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart. Meanwhile, the lot of widows and homeless children is very hard, and it is to their defence, not God’s, that the self-righteous should rush.”~ Yann Martel, Life of Pi
“My face set to a grim and determined expression. I speak in all modesty as I say this, but I discovered at that moment that I have a fierce will to live. It’s not something evident, in my experience. Some of us give up on life with only a resigned sigh. Others fight a little, then lose hope. Still others – and I am one of those – never give up. We fight and fight and fight. We fight no matter the cost of battle, the losses we take, the improbability of success. We fight to the every end. It’s not a question of courage. It’s something constitutional, an inability to let go. It may be nothing more than life-hungry stupidity.”~ Yann Martel, Life of Pi
“People move because of the wear and tear of anxiety. Because of the gnawing feeling that no matter how hard they work their efforts will yield nothing, that what they build up in one year will be torn down in one day by others. Because of the impression that the future is blocked up, that *they* might do all right but not their children. Because of the feeling that nothing will change, that happiness and prosperity are possible only somewhere else.”~ Yann Martel, Life of Pi
“Life on a lifeboat isn’t much of a life. It is like an end game in chess, a game with few pieces. The elements couldn’t be more simple, nor the stakes higher. Physically it is extraordinarily arduous, and morally it is killing. You must make adjustments if you want to survive. Much becomes expendable. You get happiness where you can. You reach a point where you’re at the bottom of hell, yet you have your arms crossed and a smile on your face, and you feel you’re the luckiest person on earth. Why? Because at your feet you have a tiny dead fish.”~ Yann Martel, Life of Pi