The Life of Pi

The book Life of Pi by Yann Martel is a story about a young Indian boy named Piscine Molitor Patel and his Journey stranded in a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean with only a tiger, Richard Parker. The Japanese cargo ship carrying his father’s zoo animals, his family, and workers, was traveling from India to Canada, where the Patels hoped to start a new life. Unfortunately, the ship sank from an unknown cause and Pi along with a tiger, orangutan, zebra, and hyena were the only survivors of the wreck. Eventually, Pi and Richard Parker were the last ones remaining.

A part in the book hat really stuck out to me was in the beginning of the book where Piscene, “known to all as P'” (Martel, 22), was in Pondicherry, India with a strong desire to learn about different religions. Although the rest of his family believed they didn’t need religion, Pi went his own way and let his curiosity get the best of him. His first religion was Hindu. Later, along with Hinduism, he practiced Christianity. Finally, he added Islam to his list of practicing faiths. I admire his steady devotion for learning about the different religions.

Pi would show up as often as he could with a new question urning within him. I want to become more like P’, having a strong desire and fascination to learn something new. In my opinion, it is one of the most fascinating quests in life. Practicing three different religions caused a lot of trouble between his family and his different religious leaders, who together all found out he was devout in all three sects. After much arguing between the pastor, imam, and pandit of which church he should Join, saying he must only choose one, Pi’s mother turned to him and asked what his thoughts were.

Pi responded by saying, “Bapu Ghandi said, ‘All religions are true. I Just want to love God” (Martel, 69). Whether your desire is to love God or something else, it is important to Just have that desire. Without it, what is the purpose of existing? From this, I was reminded that it is important to learn as much as you can and that it is okay to still be confused about life, for that will only help you to understand it more so long as you have a deep desire to understand, Just like Pl.

I loved the way Martel opened my eyes showing me a new and positive perspective on such an abstract subject: the beauty of the relationship between life and death. I have never thought of this relationship as one being beautiful, nor have I ever sympathized with death before happening upon this quote. “The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biological necessity??”it’s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a Jealous, possessive love that grabs at whatever it can.

But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud” (Martel, 6). The way he personifies life and death is truly a delightful image to apprehend. I wish I could sit down with he author and discuss this further over some tea. For the topic of life and death being one of the most fascinating and complex ideas known to mankind, he seems to have a lovely view on it. Martel describing ‘life’ as being beautiful in a personified way enticed me to think about it in a way I haven’t before.

I realized that yes life is indeed very beautiful; it’s stunning. Life is a sacred gift given to each of us and though we have the agency to spend it as we choose, I prefer to spend it wisely and with gratitude, not wasting a moment dwelling on anything that would not benefit or make ay Journey, Pi was interviewed in the hospital by two men from the Japanese Ministry of Transport who were hoping to find the cause of the sinking cargo ship. Pi told them the story of his Journey. In his story, he noticed the cargo ship was starting to sink in the midst of a terrible storm.

He frantically alerted the crewmembers, which only spoke Chinese. They put a life Jacket on him and tossed him into the lifeboat, where a tiger was hiding under the tarpaulin. Soon after, a zebra Jumped in breaking its leg on the landing followed by a hyena. After the ship had sunk, an rangutan appeared floating on a large bundle of bananas. Because the zebra was helpless, the hyena decided to start eating it. This upset the orangutan, but it couldn’t put up with a fght against the vicious, starving hyena.

Once the hyena was finished eating what it could of the zebra and orangutan, the Bengal tiger also known as Richard Parker, attacked the hyena, which hopelessly surrendered. The Japanese men didn’t believe him. They found it impossible that there could have been a tiger on the lifeboat and that an orangutan floated its way to the lifeboat on a bundle of ananas, saying that banana’s don’t even float. To test the validity of the story, Pi insisted that they fill the nearby sink with water and a bundle of bananas. To their surprise, the bananas floated.

Still, they had plenty of doubts. The Japanese men wanted to bring back a story that was more believable. So, Pi told a different story. Instead of a hyena, it was the cook; his mother took place of the orangutan, and the sailor represented the zebra. He paralleled his original story to the second one, in disturbing, graphic detail. Instead of the hyena killing and eating the zebra and rangutan, it was the cook who killed and ate the sailor and his mother; instead of Richard Parker killing the hyena, it was Pi who killed the cook.

The two men decided that they liked the first story more. Pi represented himself as Richard Parker. I am still struggling to figure out what the stories mean, especially the one about the Meerkat Island, where Pi and Richard Parker drifted to an island covered in algae and populated with thousands of meerkats. One night, after a few weeks of making themselves feel at home, Pi noticed something strange as he was getting his bed situated in a tree. As it got dark, all of the meerkats ran towards the forest and up the trees.

He started to wonder why they were all frantically running away until he saw many dead fish floating to the top of one of the fresh water ponds. Meanwhile, Richard Parker slept in the lifeboat. It turned out that at night, the ground scorched their feet. In the morning, Pi noticed some fruit wrapped in vines and leaves hanging in only one specific tree and Just a small part of it. He climbed up the tree to pick one of the fruit, but as he unraveled the leaves, he found something else: a human tooth. Puzzled, he checked the rest of them.

There were a total of thirty-two rotting human teeth. This caused him to suspect that the island was carnivorous and that an unlucky soul must have found the island but made the mistake of staying too long. Pi took this as his sign to leave the island and continue on his way in the Pacific. Though I don’t know the meaning of some of these stories, I do have an idea that the Bengal tiger represents Pi’s animal instinct. With this in mind, I find it interesting that the only time Pi and Richard Parker were separated was when they were on the island.

They were rarely seen together and Richard Parker even slept in the boat off the shore of the island while Pi slept high in a tree. But once he left the island, he and have survived. For example, on the Journey he had to apply it by killing and eating fish, which as a vegetarian he had never thought he would do. Life of Pi challenged me to think in ways I normally wouldn’t. It took me out of my happy, blessed world, and instead put me in one life-threatening situation after another. Every time an event would happen in the book, I had to stop for a moment and ponder how I would have reacted or what I would have done in Pi’s position.

It’s easy for me to say that I would never hurt a living soul such as a fish even if I were under the influence of starvation, but maybe I would be so desperate that I wouldn’t have to think twice. I certainly know I wouldn’t be able to last as long as P’. I think part of what helped him survive was his task of keeping Richard Parker alive. It gave him a sense of purpose and a reason to continue living. Perhaps it is important that I find my ‘Richard Parker’ so that I may have a purpose to living a satisfying life. Works Cited Martel, Yann. Life of Pi: A Novel. New York: Harcourt, 2001. Print.

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