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Life of Pi Anaylsis

Life of Pi Anaylsis

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Published by Monica Kempski

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Published by: Monica Kempski on Sep 30, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Monica KempskiLife of Pi AnalysisHow does the characterization of Pi present how to live a life?Yann Martel is a diligent author whose exceptional work has paid off in the worldof literacy. Martel was Canadian born, but traveled frequently to various places. His mostinfluential travel was a thirteen month venture in India. Here, he was inspired by thecountry and its culture. It only saw fit that he make India the setting of his book, Life of Pi. Martel took great measures to prepare his novel. During his stay in India, he visitedmosques, temples, churches, and zoos. In the story, Pi frequently visited all of these places in his homeland. Martel also examined religious texts involving Christianity,Islam, and Hinduism and studied biology and animal psychology. These studies not onlycaptivated Martel, but his character Pi. Because of these visits, the reader can trust thatthe setting and philosophies found in the novel are accurate.After Life of Pi was published, controversy erupted. The press had claimed thatMartel had plagiarized off of an earlier novel, Max and the Cats by Maacyr Scliar. Bothstories had similar plotlines involving a human stowed on a lifeboat with a ferociousanimal. Martel did admit to be influenced by Scliar’s work, but argued about thedifference in the depths to the stories. He won his case, and his novel continued to be published.Subsequent to the controversy, Life of Pi impacted millions of readers when itwon the Man Booker Prize in 2002. Since then, it has been translated into thirty differentlanguages for all to enjoy its intense plotline. (“How I wrote Life of Pi”)
Life of Pi is an extensive account of the fictional Piscine Molitor Patel. During hischildhood, “Pi” lived in India with his family. Here, he enjoyed spending time at hisfather’s zoo and practicing religions. Pi had become multi-religious in Hindu, Christian,and Muslim beliefs on his own accord. Then, in 1977 India became corrupted. Pi and hisfamily were forced to travel to Canada to escape and continue their zoo. Unfortunately,the ship sinks. Pi is fortunate to survive on a lifeboat, but finds himself accompanied byan orangutan, hyena, zebra, and tiger. Soon the animals die off and only the tiger,“Richard Parker” is left with Pi. During his terrible struggle, Pi manages to semi-tameRichard Parker. Months later, he finds an island of algae and leaves it after it poses athreat to his life. Finally, he lands in Mexico where he meets the Japanese Ministry of Transport who are sent to discover what became of Pi’s ship. Pi tells the men twoseparate versions of his voyage, one involving the animals, and another gruesomeadaptation where the lifeboat is occupied by humans.The central theme of the novel is life. Pi has certain characteristics that allow himto live a life in the most hazardous circumstances. With his courage, Pi manages tosubstitute his lack of human interaction on the lifeboat with the vicious tiger. He has nofamily or other human to support him. During his time spent with the tiger, Pi realizes thetiger is struggling as well, and they are in the same “boat.” Pi accepts the tiger, and startsreferring to him as “Richard Parker”, his name and identity. During their time together,Richard Parker becomes Pi’s driving force and friend to stay alive. “I love you, RichardParker. If I didn’t have you now, I don’t know what I would do. I don’t think I wouldmake it…..I would die of hopelessness. Don’t give up…..I’ll get you to land, I promise!”
(236.5) In addition, Pi had to find his courage when he presses himself to eat the algae onthe island.Pi has incredible conviction. He strongly believes in his many religions. Duringthe periods on the lifeboat when all hope seemed lost, Pi prayed to the gods of his faithsand asked them for aid. His belief in a higher power settled his mind and gave Pisomething to hold on to and believe in when survival seemed slim. “The lower you are,the higher your mind will want to soar. It was natural that, bereft and desperate as I was,in the throes of unremitting suffering, I should turn to God.” (283.9-284)However, Pi’s conviction in his belief of what he thinks is best for him turns himagainst his Hindu faith. On the lifeboat, Pi ran out of his food supply and nearly starved.In result, he resorted to fish and sea turtles. Then on an island, he discovers meerkats andkills again for food.Pi faced a major internal conflict because the killing of animals is taboo to theHindu religion. His two options included following his faith and starving, or dishonoringit and surviving. Ultimately, Pi chose to disregard the Hindu belief in the sacredness of animals because of the life threatening circumstance. Pi eventually killed his prey, butnot without attached emotion. “I wept heartily over this poor little deceased soul. It wasthe first sentient being I had ever killed. I was now a killer.” (183.7) Eventually, thisviolation of his conviction became mundane. With his newly developed routine, Pilearned to detach himself from the mess of emotions involved in murder. Pi haddishonored his religion in order to survive.Martel utilizes an extended metaphor to enhance the theme of the will to live. Inthe closing chapters of the story, Pi wass questioned by the Japanese men about his

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