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Intro to Life of Pi Lecture Part 2

Intro to Life of Pi Lecture Part 2

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Published by Danika Barker

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Published by: Danika Barker on Nov 12, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Intro to Life of Pi (part 2)
Narrative Perspective
Richard Parker
The Will to Live
Piscine “Pi” Molitor Patel
Richard Parker
The Author
Francis Adirubasamy
The Two Mr. Kumars
Mr. Okamoto and Mr. ChibaNarrative Perspective
As mentioned on Tuesday,
Life of Pi
is written as a story within a story.Piscine “Pi” Molitor Patel is the main character and narrates the bulk of the novel, but he is being interviewed by an unnamed, fictitiousauthor. This author’s portions of the book are printed in italics todistinguish them from the sections that are in “Pi’s own words”—asrelated to us by the author. The issue of narration becomes even more important at the end of thenovel when the reader is introduced to a third narrative voice, thetranscript of Mr. Okamoto and Mr. Chiba’s interview with Pi in thehospital. The fact that we hear two we hear two distinctly different accounts of Pi’s experiences—neither of them from Pi directly—emphasizesMartel’s theme of the relative nature of truth.
Pi’s name is a shortening of his given name Piscine (after a popularswimming pool in Paris, France). As he informs his classmates inChapter 5, Pi is also the name of the number used to calculatecircumferences and areas of circles.One of the earliest approximations of pi was 22/7. Pi floated on theocean for 227 days. While in his lifeboat, Pi is in the center of his owncircle. He calls his gaze “a radius.” Think about symbolism associatedwith circles as we study this book.
Often notes as 3.14, pi has so many decimal places that the mindcannot accurately comprehend it. It continues on to infinity, a fact thattroubles Pi because he prefers closure, symmetry, a book with exactlyone hundred chapters. (See the handout page on the blog for asummary of each chapter)
Richard Parker
 The tiger Richard Parker, got his name due to a clerical error when hewas shipped to the Pondicherry Zoo. Yann Martel chose this name as areference to a character in Edgar Allen Poe’s only complete novel,
TheNarrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket 
(1838). The story tells of four shipwrecked me who after several days at sea, nearly perish anddraw lots to decide which one of them should be killed and eaten. Thecabin boy, named Richard Parker draws the short straw.Coincidentally, 46 years after Poe’s novel was published, nearly theexact events actually came to pass. While sailing to Australia, aCaptain Dudley and three sailors were stranded in a skill in the Pacificafter their yacht, the Mignonette, sank. As in Poe’s novel, they wereforced to eat one of their party to survive—a young man namedRichard Parker. Yet another Richard Parker died when his ship, namedthe
Francis Spaight 
, sank in January 1846.Richard Parker symbolizes Pi’s basic animal instincts. While on thelifeboat, in order to stay alive, Pi must behave in ways that would havebeen unthinkable in his normal life. An avowed vegetarian, he must killfish and birds and eat their flesh and drink their blood. As time passes,he becomes more savage about it, stuffing food into his mouth the wayRichard Parker does. After Richard Parker mauls the blind Frenchman,Pi uses the man’s flesh for bait and even stoops to cannibalism. In thesecond story Pi tells the Japanese investigators he
Richard Parkerand kills his mother’s murderer. Richard Parker is the version of himself that Pi has invented to make his story more acceptable to bothhimself and his audience. The brutality of his mother’s death and hisown shocking act of revenge are too much for Pi to deal with, and hefinds it easier to imagine a tiger, rather than himself, as the killer andeater of human flesh.
The Will to Live
Life of Pi
is a story about fighting against overwhelming odds to stayalive. Pi abandons vegetarianism to avoid starving to death. Orange Juice, the peaceful orangutan, fights the hyena. Even the injured zebrabattles to stay alive. The novel illustrates the extent to which ananimal will go—both heroic and barbaric—to survive. The hyena’s

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