Exactly that; close reading that strings phrases together to digest them in bites like appetizers.
It was a huge zoo, spread over numberless acres, big enough to require a train to explore it, though it seemed to get smaller as I grew older, train included. Now it’s so small it fits in my head. (p. 15)
The Pondicherry zoo doesn’t exist any more Its pits are filled in, the cages torn down. I explore it now in the only place left for it, my memory. (p. 24)
First of all, I love the concept of "now it’s so small it fits in my head." What a lovely way to describe how memory works, and the loss of the reality as it is replaced by it in new form. It makes me think of how little difference there is between something that is seen, felt, touched, tasted, and left behind versus something that has only been read about perhaps. A simple turning around, or the closing of eyes produces the same "goneness" as something left halfway around the world. But my point is the tying in to reinforce the idea as Martel brings the notion of memory back within a few pages.
Below, he appears to again be foreshadowing a notion of religion and belief, then reinforcing it:
I have heard nearly as much nonsense about zoos as I have about God and religion. (p. 19)
I know zoos are no longer in people’s good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both. (p. 24)
Via the narrator Pi, we learned the opposite of the general belief that people hold about animals held in captivity. Pi has explained that to an animal, the freedom is more available perhaps in a zoo, where it can depend upon safety, food, and a specific territory. The only reason an animal ranges over a larger area in the wild, he claims, is in pursuit of his needs.
I find another interesting thing about reading such a diverse group of literature; learning in a more interesting way–but that’s for another post.