"Life of Pi" -- Vocabulary from Chapters 1-20 30 words

"Life of Pi" by Yann Martel is the simple story of a boy on a raft. If that sounds relaxing, there's one problem -- there is also a tiger on the raft.

Before you see the movie, read Yann Martel's exciting novel "Life of Pi" and learn these word lists: Ch's 1-20, Ch's 21-42, Ch's 43-57, Ch's 58-80, and Ch's 81-100.
  1. religious
    concerned with sacred matters or religion or the church
    I have kept up what some people would consider my strange religious practices.
  2. sloth
    any of several slow-moving arboreal mammals of South America and Central America; they hang from branches back downward and feed on leaves and fruits
    My zoology thesis was a functional analysis of the thyroid gland of the three-toed sloth.
  3. award
    a tangible symbol signifying approval or distinction
    I got every possible student award from the Department of Zoology.
  4. length
    the linear extent in space from one end to the other; the longest dimension of something that is fixed in place
    In this case, a 'length' is one trip across the pool -- across the length of the pool.
    Even in his sixties, when he was a little stooped and a lifetime of counter-obstetric gravity had begun to nudge his flesh downwards, Mamaji swam thirty lengths every morning at the pool of the Aurobindo Ashram.
  5. stroke
    any one of the repeated movements of the limbs and body used for locomotion in swimming or rowing
    Under his watchful eye I lay on the beach and fluttered my legs and scratched away at the sand with my hands, turning my head at every stroke to breathe.
  6. territory
    the geographical area under the jurisdiction of a sovereign state
    Note that in chapter 4, Martel is using 'territory' in a number of different ways, for comparison -- both as a political territory added on to a country, and as a habitat for animals (or even people). So it's under both the jurisdiction of a state as well as the jurisdiction of particular species.
    Animals in the wild lead lives of compulsion and necessity within an unforgiving social hierarchy in an environment where the supply of fear is high and the supply of food low and where territory must constantly be defended and parasites forever endured.
  7. imagine
    form a mental image of something that is not present or that is not the case
    You must imagine a hot and humid place, bathed in sunshine and bright colours.
  8. rite
    any customary observance or practice
    Off we went on this Hindu rite of passage, Mother carrying me, Auntie propelling her.
  9. escape
    run away from confinement
    It yearns mightily for “freedom” and does all it can to escape.
  10. social
    living together or enjoying life in communities or organized groups
    Animals in the wild lead lives of compulsion and necessity within an unforgiving social hierarchy in an environment where the supply of fear is high and the supply of food low and where territory must constantly be defended and parasites forever endured.
  11. enclosure
    a structure consisting of an area that has been enclosed for some purpose
    A biologically sound zoo enclosure—whether cage, pit, moated island, corral, terrarium, aviary or aquarium—is just another territory, peculiar only in its size and in its proximity to human territory.
  12. cage
    an enclosure made or wire or metal bars in which birds or animals can be kept
    Note the many uses of cages (or enclosures, or corrals, or territories), both in a literal sense (here in the zoo) and a metaphorical one (religion, etc) throughout the book -- it's a running theme.
    A biologically sound zoo enclosure—whether cage, pit, moated island, corral, terrarium, aviary or aquarium—is just another territory, peculiar only in its size and in its proximity to human territory.
  13. corral
    a pen for cattle
    A biologically sound zoo enclosure—whether cage, pit, moated island, corral, terrarium, aviary or aquarium—is just another territory, peculiar only in its size and in its proximity to human territory.
  14. limit
    as far as something can go
    Within the limits of their nature, they make do with what they have.
  15. suspicious
    openly distrustful and unwilling to confide
    That I was a swimmer made no waves; it seems to be a law of human nature that those who live by the sea are suspicious of swimmers, just as those who live in the mountains are suspicious of mountain climbers.
  16. universe
    everything that exists anywhere
    And so, in that Greek letter that looks like a shack with a corrugated tin roof, in that elusive, irrational number with which scientists try to understand the universe, I found refuge.
  17. doubt
    the state of being unsure of something
    I’ll be honest about it. It is not atheists who get stuck in my craw, but agnostics. Doubt is useful for a while.
  18. flustered
    thrown into a state of agitated confusion; (`rattled' is an informal term)
    Her flustered explanation to Father was, “Whoever heard of a lion eating a cotton sari? I thought lions were carnivores.”
  19. carnivore
    any animal that feeds on flesh
    Her flustered explanation to Father was, “Whoever heard of a lion eating a cotton sari? I thought lions were carnivores.”
  20. altar
    a raised structure on which gifts or sacrifices to a god are made
    An altar can be used for any offerings, not just sacrifices.
    Two pictures rest behind a small altar: to the side, Ganesha again, and in the centre, in a larger frame, smiling and blue-skinned, Krishna playing theflute.
  21. vestibule
    a large entrance or reception room or area
    One priest was working in his office, his back turned to the bay windows, while the other was seated on a bench at a round table in the large vestibule that evidently functioned as a room for receiving visitors.
  22. stride
    a step in walking or running
    He asks of demon king Bah only as much land as he can cover in three strides.
  23. compelling
    tending to persuade by forcefulness of argument
    I’ll stick to my Krishna, thank you very much. I find his divinity utterly compelling.
  24. mutter
    talk indistinctly; usually in a low voice
    The Son mutters, “May you never bear fruit again,” and instantly the fig tree withers.
  25. devotion
    religious zeal; the willingness to serve God
    It is a beautiful religion of brotherhood and devotion.
  26. atheist
    someone who denies the existence of god
    I’ll be honest about it. It is not atheists who get stuck in my craw, but agnostics.
  27. mosque
    (Islam) a Muslim place of worship that usually has a minaret
    The hill on the right, across the river from the hotel, had a Hindu temple high on its side; the hill in the middle, further away, held up a mosque; while the hill on the left was crowned with a Christian church.
  28. unmotivated
    without motivation
    Unmotivated, it covers four to five metres in an hour.
  29. deviant
    markedly different from an accepted norm
    To speak frankly, many are sexual deviants, either terribly repressed and subject to explosions of frenzied lasciviousness or openly depraved, in either case regularly affronting management with gross outrages of free sex and incest.
  30. acuity
    a quick and penetrating intelligence
    On a scale of 2 to 10, where 2 represents unusual dullness and 10 extreme acuity, Beebe (1926) gave the sloth’s senses of taste, touch, sight and hearing a rating of 2, and its sense of smell a rating of 3.