Yann Martel’s novel, Life of Pi has many literary elements, some work and some do not.


elements can either greatly add or detract from the novel as a whole. His gruesome detail and dramatic

episodes work very well and adds continuity to the novel, however his science is somewhat lacking and

ends up detracting from the entirety of the novel.

Drama comprises a big element in Life of Pi. Martel uses many dramatic episodes to propel the

story from one point to the next. In one incident Pi and his Father and Mother are approached by three

religious leaders who all believe Pi to be solely committed to their own respective religion. “The wise

men seemed annoyed when they realized that all three of them were approaching the same people.

Each must have assumed that the others were there for some business other than pastoral and had

rudely chosen that moment to deal with it. Some looks of displeasure were exchanged” (65). This

confrontation creates drama between Pi, his family, and the religious leaders. This incident causes Pi’s

parents to wander about what could have possibly possessed their son to become a believer in Hindu,

much less Christianity, or Muslim. “‘I don’t understand it. We’re a modern Indian family, we live in a

modern way,… and here we’ve produced a son who thinks he’s the reincarnation of Sri Ramakrishna.’… A

devout Hindu…, I can understand. A Christian in addition,… I can stretch my mind… all that I can… accept.

But Muslim? It’s totally foreign to our tradition. They’re outsiders” (74-75). In addition to his parents

confusion Pi is made fun of quite cruelly by Ravi, his brother. “’So, Swami Jesus, will you go on a hajj this

year…. Does Mecca beckon?’ He crossed himself. ‘Or is it to Rome for your coronation…?...Have you

found time to get the end of you pecker cut off to become a Jew? At the rate your going… you only need

to convert to three more religions to be on holiday for the rest of your life’” (70). The drama created

between Pi and the religious leaders escalates to the point where he has to find ways to avoid the

religious leaders. “Once an oaf chased me away from the Great Mosque. When I went to the church the

priest glared at me… A Brahmin sometimes shooed me away from the darshan…. I stopped attending

and his junior. The leg fell off… ‘I’m going to throw it over board. truly brings the book to life. and suspense. and maybe even a little fear in the reader as well. Another dramatic episode happens while he is lost at sea. For instance. of the Maritime Department in the Japanese Ministry of Transport. I had time to pick at the other fruit.… the Adam’s apple.Mass at Our Lady of Immaculate Conception and went… to Our Lady of Angels.… He died quietly…. And died. A human tooth…. The cook promptly butchered him (307)…. His blood soothed my chapped hands” (310). Each contained a tooth…. The gruesome detail in Life of Pi brings an element of realism to the novel that some novels do not achieve. anticipation. “A flap of skin hung limply over the raw stump.I stabbed him in the throat. The island was carnivorous”(280-281). this is a great example of Martel’s use of grisly descriptive incidents. is sickening. Atsuro Chiba-san his story without animals. an unspeakable pearl at the heart of a green oyster. Martel’s descriptiveness is astoundingly vivid and.I… stabbed him again…. I no longer lingered after Friday prayer… I went to temple at crowed times”(71). ‘You just ate a piece!’… ‘How could you? He’s human!’(308)…I stabbed him in the stomach…. when he finds a carnivorous island in the middle of the ocean. That was the whole point’ (305). half out. “And then it came to light. though grisly. The feeling of horror came slowly. He dropped like a stone. The zebra was being eaten alive from the inside”(125).a strip of hide came off the zebra’s belly like gift-wrap paper comes off a gift… it started pulling out coils of intestines… It plunged head and shoulders into the zebra’s guts… half in. .Thirty-two teeth. We can use it as bait.’ ‘Don’t be an idiot. A complete human set…. Another horrific episode was when Pi tells Tomohiro Okamoto-san. Blood was still dripping…. and then to eat his flesh when he has died. The cook’s mind set of doing absolutely anything to survive. These incidents create drama either between Pi and the family or Pi and the religious leaders. even cutting off a defenseless man’s leg so as to use it as bait. “The cook worked the knife quickly. when the hyena eats the zebra.

which includes the giant. An island full of meerkats? “… it was the meerkats that impressed themselves most indelibly in my mind. Martel writes that the meerkats were bringing fish on shore. carnivorous island. yet Martel insists on our believing this seemingly ridiculous idea. (http://www. “I made for the pond… in time to see meerkats swimming--actually swimming--and bringing to shore fish by the dozens…”(267). spewed half- eaten organs glistening in the light or giving off a dull. This seems impossible. I couldn’t believe it.but was rather a free floating organism…” (271).. and everything that goes along with it. and scorpions. Meerkats are mainly insectivores (http://www. a fistula like a freshly erupted volcano. which explained the otherwise inexplicable presence in them of dorados and other fish of the open sea” (272). How did they get there? Why are they not being eaten by the island along with humans and fish? “And my hunch is that the ponds reached down to the sides of this huge. carnivorous island. Regardless of the statement that Pi makes about the meerkats being .com/EBchecked/topic/575214/meerkat) none of which are in the genome of fish. I saw in one look what I would conservatively estimate to be hundreds of thousands of meerkats” (265). It had a two-foot wide hole in its body.com/dictionary/MEERKAT) and they rarely eat snakes. The island seemed ridiculous from the beginning. Chiba: ‘The story with animals. dry shine”(128). The story with animals’”(317). Okamoto: Yes. He also wants us to believe that the ocean is big enough that we as humans haven’t found a giant.britannica. birds. He expects us to believe that a zebra can live a whole night after being partially eaten alive.. “The island was carnivorous” (281). we can naturally assume they mean to eat them. buoyant mass and opened onto the ocean. The fact that Okamoto-san and Chiba-san like the animal story better than the human one”‘So tell me which is the better story.’ Mr.merriam- webster. One of the aspects of Martel’s novel that does not work is the science. the story with animals or the story without animals?. to me. suggests that Martel wants us to believe Pi’s animal story as well. Mr.Whether or not this was a hallucination is not the point. “The zebra was still alive.. lizards. floating ”… the island was not an island in the conventional sense of the term…-. even before we find out about its being carnivorous.

Yann Martel’s novel Life of Pi. is a fascinating example of the combination of dramatic episodes and gruesome detail fusing to form a great tale of fiction. . Life of Pi is still an enthralling and captivating read. All of these so called scientific facts sound great on the surface. but when you go deeper and really think about some of the situations Martel is suggesting. seriously detract from the overall story. His science is unsound and completely ridiculous. however. this doesn’t.most likely a subspecies “These meerkats were most definitely a subspecies that had specialized in a fascinating and surprising way” (267). it is still a far too unbelievable incident. the science seems at the least unsound and at most utterly ridiculous.