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Life Of Pi by Yann Martel


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Roar of the Sea
"Mr. Piscine Molitor Patel is an astounding story of courage and endurance in the face of extraordinarily difficult and tragic circumstances. His story is unparalleled in the history of shipwrecks. Very few castaways can claim to have survived so long at sea as Mr. Patel, and none in the company of an adult Bengal tiger” (Martel 354). The Life of Pi is a fictional memoir packed with information about religion and the struggles of being stranded in the ocean, however it can be uninteresting and repetitive at times. Yann Martel, a Canadian author who has written many other books, created a story that allows the reader to use his or her imagination. Although the beginning of the book is slow, and at times the story is confusing, I personally like how Martel tells about different religions and narrates a story that requires the reader to use his or her imagination. Overall, The Life of Pi is an adventurous tale that can be confusing to some readers, but on the other hand enlightens its readers about different religions and what it takes to survive at sea.
Pi, who was named after a famous swimming pool in France, is the main character and the protagonist of the story. He was born and grew up in India but later was forced to move, and is the only survivor of a shipwreck. When he was sixteen, his family packed up their zoo, left their home, and headed for Canada. Before Pi and his family were able to reach Canada, their ship wrecked; Pi was the only survivor. Although every person except Pi was dead, there were a few animals that survived. Pi finds himself stranded on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger, a zebra, and a hyena. All in all, The Life of Pi tells the story of an interesting boy who grew up in India, survived a shipwreck, and finds himself stranded on a lifeboat with wild animals.
In The Life of Pi, the author introduces many themes, and Pi has a lot of thoughts and questions about religion. He practices Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. Although Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam are three very different religions, they all involve a personal relationship with god. The entire story is about Pi and the choices he makes, and can sometimes be repetitive. He prays every day, owns a prayer rug and frequently talks about his religious beliefs. The majority of the book has a religious tone, and the author makes that clear by Pi’s actions and words. Pi once said, “Hindus, in their capacity for love, are indeed hairless Christians, just as Muslims, in the way they see God in everything, are bearded Hindus, and Christians, in their devotion to God, are hat wearing Muslims” (Martel, 54). There are also many themes and lessons to be learned from this book. Belief in god is a major theme. Storytelling is another theme is this book. In conclusion, the life of Pi contains many themes and can educate its reader in different religions.
The animals on the lifeboat with Pi also play an enormous part in this story. Along with Richard Parker, the Bengal tiger, there is a zebra, a hyena and eventually an orangutan on the lifeboat with Pi. At some point, all of the animals die except Richard Parker. As the story progresses, Pi becomes less and less afraid of him and begins developing a friendship with him. At the end of the book, Richard Parker and Pi part ways and Pi thinks to himself, “I would like to say it formally: Richard Parker, thank you. Thank you for saving my life. And now go where you must” (Martel, 255). Many passages that talk about Richard Parker reveal that Pi truly is thankful to have him on the lifeboat with him. All in all, Richard Parker and the other animals are nuisances and threats to Pi before he realizes how nice it is to have company and how easy it can be to coexist with animals.
If there is one thing I learned from The Life Of Pi, it is that you can interpret things in many different ways. In this book, the story Pi tells about him on the lifeboat with the animals may or may not be true. As a reader, you can either take it literally, or see the story Pi tells as a warped version of the actual story. The literal version of the story is much less dark and contains less symbolism than the alternative. If the story was actually a metaphor about a few people that survived the shipwreck it would be a lot different. It is possible that the hyena was actually the cannibalistic cook from the ship that represents the evil in the world, the zebra was a sailor that represents a vulnerable person who gets attacked, the orangutan was Pi’s mother who represents a motherly figure, and Richard Parker was actually Pi’s alter ego that represents strength and perseverance. Near the end of the book Pi is talking to a man named Mr. Okamoto and he says, "'So tell me, since it makes no factual difference to you and you can't prove the question either way, which story do you prefer? Which is the better story, the story with animals or the story without animals?” (Martel, 317). In review, the Life of Pi leaves room for the reader unravel the story and determine how they want to interpret it.
At times I found The Life of Pi to be confusing and somewhat repetitive, but at the same time it offered a lot of insight on different religions and survival and contained many moving themes. In its entirety, I thought The Life of Pi was repetitive near the beginning, and slightly confusing throughout but I appreciate the insight on religion and the many lessons that can be learned throughout, and I thought it all tied together nicely at the end.



Martel, Yann. Life of Pi. New York: Harcourt, Inc., 2001.



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