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Kelly Curran United States Literature, Honors 3 April 2009 Life of Pi: Piscine Molitor Patel's Nickname and the Underlying Correlation to his Persona The Novel, Life of Pi, recounts the story of an incredible young man and his astounding pursuit of life and survival through many changes in character and personality. His name 'Pi' is derived from the sixteenth letter in the alphabet, and more directly from the French word piscine, which means pool. After many instances in which the character's classmates torment him due to the similarity of pronunciation between the word 'pissing' and his name, Piscine decides to informally change it to Pi. One may argue that his name has a deeper, ulterior meaning that can expose parallels between the occurrences in his life and also represent the reality of his personality. To begin with, the protagonist's name is considered to represent the idea of irrationality in the field of mathematics. Throughout the novel, Pi is portrayed as an exceedingly 'religious child.' In relation to his ordeal, many argue that to believe in religious ideals is somewhat irrational due to the lack of evidence for the explications given by these beliefs. A well known sociologist argues that religion “...is the opium of the people,” since “religious suffering is at the same time an expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering.” Also, he says that it is the “sigh of the oppressed creature, ...and the soul of soulless conditions.” (Karl Marx). What Marx means by religion being the opium of the masses is that through hardships people tend to turn to religion for support. In the story while Pi drifts at sea, and is exposed to a 'soulless condition,' he prays to an undefined god and pleads for salvation and protection. Henceforth, the prayers give him comfort and a feeling of “elation,” (Martel, 63) euphoria and a sense of emotional detachment from the real into the surreal, effects similar
Copyright © 2009 Alexis Omar López Ortiz. All rights reserved
who kills the man in order to protect Pi. Although irrational. What Charles Darwin implied by this statement is that since humans fall under the same genus and they share similar traits and characteristics. According to a well-known British Naturalist. He demonstrates dominion over the man. Thirdly. “the struggle will be more severe between them [in this case the humans] if they come into competition with each other” (Darwin. but in fact it can all be considered irrational behavior since he is not an animal but a human. (Darwin.14” can be that bit more.).Lopez 2 to the consumption of opium. but in reality Pi is Richard Parker. But here Pi recounts the story in a special manner. these traits are attributed to animals in the wild and other ecosystems in the world. His name. his father and mother had on him.” They result to this in order to achieve survival and maintain dominion over the others in the species. it was necessary in order to ensure his survival. “an irrational number cannot be written as a simple fraction or as a decimal with a finite (limited) number of decimal places. or the circumference of circles. he worships them depending on the time or the situation. when forced into competition they will become more harsh and unforgiving with each other due to them occupying the same space in the “economy of nature. when converted into decimal points comes out to be “3.14. all being irrational behavior. One can say that a Copyright © 2009 Alexis Omar López Ortiz. have no defined end or beginnings. He speaks of Richard Parker. feeds his famished self. The three in “3. which can be the influence his communist teacher. and the “. In addition to Pi being heavily involved in religious ordeals. The reader can vividly experience this as Pi devours the cook before he is murdered by him. his alter ego. according to Thomas Carpenter. thus going into anthropomorphous or a zoomorphous state.” In the novel he practices three religions. and a bit more. thus being infinite.14” can signify his three religions. 93). not finite.” Pi does not have a defined religion or a defined god. he demonstrates irrational behavior as he resorts to cannibalism while on the raft. and rationalizes about the action. Usually. Circles. All rights reserved .
Muslim boy.)The supplanted religion does not cease to exist. origins and purposes. 72.children are too young to decide their views on the origins of the cosmos. are bearded Hindus. Islam and Christianity. idolatry and projections of the new religion. Piscine is shown to believe in more than one religion. some of the former's traditions are adopted to smooth the transition. in the way they see the God in everything. the imam. All rights reserved .. Hinduism. but co-exists in the ideologies. Like the author of the book. a mathematical symbol is an arduously undefinable number.. of life and of morals. in their devotion to God are hat wearing Muslims. An idea which exemplifies well the idea that Pi is undefined is Richard Dawkins' belief that “. Its definition easily goes in to the trillionth decimal place when computed on a calculator.” (Mass. yet another section of that circle can begin in the middle of the last section highlighted..” (Dawkins..” and a “Christian. Yann Martel. thus supporting Dawkins idea that a child is usually unsure and undefined and should not be given a title as a “.just as they are too young to know where they stand on economics or politics. and the pandit gave Pi. either through self expression or in this case Pi's relation Copyright © 2009 Alexis Omar López Ortiz. 3) like the priest. argued: “Hindus. all having deities with similar backgrounds. 50) This clearly puts forth the idea that major religions like these have grandiose similarities that demonstrate relation to eachother.. 66). Also related to the infiniteness of the circle itself is how no religion has met a finite end because “whenever one religion supplants another.. symbolically creating a circle-like representation. in their capacity for love. hairless Christians. Pi. 338)... Thus symbolizing the overlapping beliefs of all religions. are indeed. just as Muslims.Christian-Child or Muslim-Child.” (Dawkins 3.Lopez 3 section of a circle can begin somewhere and end somewhere. They openly called him a good “Hindu boy.. One must put into account that one of the overall themes of the novel is the want to find and define oneself.” (Martel. and Christians..” (Martel.
the protagonist's name easily fits into the happenings of his quotidian life in India and in the raft and in the properties of his own persona. Copyright © 2009 Alexis Omar López Ortiz. All rights reserved . As one can see.' the Greek letter and the mathematical symbol because “nothing defines humans better than their willingness to do irrational things in the pursuit of phenomenally unlikely payoffs. His life is a basic projection of the overall meaning of 'pi.Lopez 4 with God.” (Scott Adams) like the battle for survival and its reward–life. and other gods.
] 30 March 2009 <http://worldbookonline.] 30 March 2009 Martel. ''Introduction--Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right.'' Lucent Books. ''The God Delusion. [Book. "Pi.] 30 March 2009 <http://web. Darwin.'' Bantam Press.Lopez 5 Works Cited Carpenter.'' 2009. [Place of access. ''Gods and Goddesses—Discovering Mythology. ''The Origin of Species. Thomas P. Mass. “Life of Pi. Copyright © 2009 Alexis Omar López Ortiz.” Harcourt Books.com/student/article?id=ar428700>.edu/~tothm/religion/Marx. Yann. [Book] 31 March 2009. Charles R. All rights reserved . Richard. Karl. [Book] 1 April 2009 Marx.pdf>." World Book Student. Wendy. [Book.pdx.] 30 March 2009 Dawkins.'' Castle Books. [PDF Book.
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