A few days ago my friend asked me a question: "have you ever read a book that had a quest in it, but not like starwars or lord of the rings, but instead one of self discovery? This one was definitely a hard one for me, because I often read books with obvious quests in them. I think the one that popped in my head the most is “The Life of Pi” by Yann Martel.
Pi's quest is introduced at the beginning, but it is not one of physical nature, but instead one of religion. He begins the story by talking about his first encounter with Christianity. Bring raised Islamic, he is very much intrigued by the ideals of the Christian god. Why should someone worship a god so weak? Eventually a conflict between his dad, catholic priest, and Islamic teacher seem to end the story of religion in the book. At least, on the surface.
Pi goes through the horrific experience of being shipwrecked, and abandoned to the sea. His interactions with a tiger on this tiny raft propel the story forward, which is so interesting that it may be hard to see the real story going on between the lines. This changed, however, and the end of the book when Pi has to submit his story of what happened to FBI agents on his case. We can see that the story we just read was the one he told the officers. When they question the reliability of the story, Pi tells a new narrative. Where, instead of animals being on the boat, it's people. He wraps his second story up with one idea: that his religion was the factor that made him see it through. And although his religion wasn't pigeonholed into one name like Christianity or Islam, he believed in his god.
His quest wasn't the cover story- surviving a passage through the Pacific with a tiger. It was his journey through the most traumatic experience of his life, going to the extreme of challenging his faith, and how he had to interact with his 'tiger' of sorts: his despair and hopelessness of losing everything and everyone he cared for.