Life of Pi

The role of Religion and God in Yann Martel’s Life of Pi as influenced by Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Grogon Pym of Nantucket Explicatory Essay

September 29, 2020 by Essay Writer

Yann Martel, a Canadian writer has published many literature works in course of his writing career. Life of Pi happens to be one of his literature works and was published in the year 2001. It is a fantasy novel focusing on adventure, spirituality as well as practicality.

Although there are many themes discussed in the novel, religion is a major theme. The main character or the protagonists known as Pi used to practice three religions during his childhood which were inclusive of Hinduism, Christianity as well as Islam. All religions that he practiced were important to him and none was inferior to the other.

However, the role of religion in the Life of Pi has been illuminated by Allan Poe in The Narrative of Arthur Grogon Pym of Nantucket. Based on that, this paper shall discuss the role of religion and God in Yann Martel’s Life of Pi as influenced by Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Grogon Pym of Nantucket.

It is important to discuss the plot of the story before discussing the main idea. The story has been subdivided in to three different parts based on the life of the main character Pi (Piscine Molitor Patel). The main character is named after a swimming pool in France but changed latter to Pi during his secondary school life. He was brought in a well up family since his father not only owned but also used to run a zoo. Religion was introduced to him in his early childhood as he was born a Hindu.

However, when he was a teenager, he was introduced to other religions such as Christianity and Islam. Instead of choosing one, Pi was practicing all the three religions and used them to try and understand the nature of God. The second part illustrates the journey through the ocean while the last part focuses on the interaction of Pi and the two officials who wanted to know to more about his adventure.

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Poe is also similar to the Life of Pi as it focuses on a story of a young person Pym. The main character in the story decides to go on a sea adventure where he encounters several issues like cannibalism, ship wreck as well as mutiny.

It is a strange and an adventurous story which features religious symbolism among other themes. The story also discusses the theory of the Hollow Earth as well as some of the life experiences of the author especially concerning the sea adventure. It is considered as one of the influential works in the field of literature especially as an adventurous story.

As highlighted in the in the introductory part, religion is one of the themes that stand out in the Life of Pi. Moreover, even at the beginning, the author points out that the story can make someone believe in God. One is left to wonder how a story of one human being with a number of animals can turn out to be spiritual or even religious. However, looking keenly at the life of Pi reveals the importance of God and religion as well.

Despite the fact that Pi grows up in a secularized society, he ends up becoming too religious. Apart from Hinduism which was his first religion, Pi goes to the extent of embracing Catholicism as well as Islam. Surprisingly, Pi chooses to practice the three religions at the same time but chooses to keep his spirituality as a secret, not only to his family but also to his three religious leaders. All the three religions were important in his life since he found something important in each (Greer).

According to Pi, Hinduism was an important religion as he was introduced to it early in life-it was part of him. He did not consider leaving Hinduism after discovering other religions because it formed the basis of his spirituality.

He embraced Christianity and Islam out of curiosity not out of dissatisfaction of the other religions. Despite the fact that he was comfortable with his three religious beliefs, his religious leaders were dissatisfied with his stand as they believed that it was impossible for him to practice all the three religions at the same time.

He was unable or unwilling to choose a single religion. Although he was quick to embrace other religions, he found it quite hard to embrace atheism even if it was presented to him by his favorite teacher. He believed in the existence of a supernatural being and that is why he was afraid to explore or learn more about atheism. It is clear that that the religious life of Pi forms the basis of the whole story and can inspire the reader to believe in God as the author illustrates (Quilty).

Religion has been discussed in the beginning and the idea is revisited towards the end of the story when Pi asks the Japanese officials to choose the story they preferred. Pi concluded that it is the same case in life because human beings chose between religion and science or fantasy and reality.

The religious people chose to believe in the uplifting issues rather than in the believable issues which may be less entertaining. In that case, it is clear that the whole story is more on application of religion in the life of human beings. For instance, to illustrate the application of religion in various life circumstances, Pi gives an illustration of two men who give different interpretations after seeing white light before them.

While the religious person believes that the white light represents God in a different form, the other person who believes in science concludes that the light is a scientific phenomenon caused by lack of enough oxygen in the central nervous system. In that case, Pi does not oppose either of them but highlights that the only difference between them is how they take life. According to Pi, the scientific person only lacks imagination and therefore “misses the better part of the story” (Quilty).

As NikoRad illustrates, religion in the life of Pi is effectively used to pass the main idea of the story to the audience. The author illustrates that in every situation, human beings have got a choice on how to perceive reality.

According to Pi, human beings can chose to take the advantage of religion, engage their imagination and obtain the best out of it. In that case, even though religion may not be true, it is more exciting to believe in the same than to live as an atheist. Therefore, the protagonist has used the idea of religion in the whole story to effectively communicate his mind the audience.

Religion has also played a great role in developing the character of Pi. Right from an early age, the author introduces Pi as a religious person since he is able to observe three religions at the same time. More specifically, the author presents Pi as a person who has got a religion of his own based on the fact that he is able to embrace three religions at the same time.

The issue of religion in the life of Pi is very important as it makes him to have faith in himself. Consequently, due to the faith in self, Pi is able to carry out his role effectively through out the whole story. For instance, it is observable that Pi speaks so firmly not only concerning religious issues but also concerning other life issues like a person who has had a lot of experience in life.

The background information concerning Pi religious beliefs not only develops his character but helps the audience to accept and appreciate Pi as he is, bearing in mind that children can also see things in their own perspective. Most importantly, religious belief and the faith that Pi has makes the audience not to doubt his survival even after going through very dangerous circumstances during his journey through the ocean.

The story of Pi is one of the unbelievable tales in the field of literature. However, incorporating religion adds value to it. This is based on the fact that religion also contains a lot of stories which look fictional.

For instance, some of the biblical stories like the story of Jonah and the whale and the story of the fall of man can only be read by someone who is able to suspend disbelief and similarly, the story of the life of Pi can only be read by someone who can do away with disbelief and embrace some faith. Instead of having doubts, religion helps the reader to become eager to read a story that is supposed to make someone believe in God. Therefore, the issue of religion does not only create harmony in the story but also makes it interesting to read.

Similar to religion, God also plays major roles in the life of Pi. From the very beginning, the protagonist Pi is faced with a lot of challenges. Religion happens to be a major challenge in life since other people cannot understand how he can manage to practice the three religions at the same time. Surviving a shipwreck for two hundred and twenty seven days is also a major challenge.

His religious beliefs and believe in God enables him to overcome all the challenges that he goes through not only during his childhood but also during his journey through the Pacific Ocean. Pi is a believer because he states that “I just want to love God” (Martel pp. 69). In the view of the fact that the life of Pi is characterized by danger, loneliness and doubt or uncertainty, his belief in God helped him to overcome all the challenges. Through out his journey, Pi continued to perform his religious rituals such as prayer.

Yann Martel once indicated that it is natural to be influenced and inspired by other writers. In the life Pi, it is clear that the author has been greatly influenced by the Poe’s Narrative of Arthur Grogon Pym of Nantucket. To begin with, Martel names the tiger Richard Parker after a character in the Poe’s narrative. As much as there is a difference between the two characters, it is clear that Poe’s work was influential.

For instance, the issue of cannibalism features greatly in the two stories and may have influenced Martel in naming the Tigress ‘Richard Parker’. In the Poe’s narrative, Richard Parker is human being who becomes a victim of cannibalism since he is eaten by the captain and his two friends who survived a ship wreck for sixteen days. However, it is ironical since in the life of Pi, Richard Parker who represents the tigress ends up eating other animals like the zebra and the hyena.

According to the studies of Buchinger (pp. 73), the life of Pi is not just an adventurous journey but also a religious metaphor as ‘Tsimtsum’ which is the Japanese name for a cargo ship suggests. Further studies illustrate that the tzimtzum concept illustrates that God created the finite world by contracting himself and ended up leaving a space for human beings to develop. To reunite with God, Pi explains that human beings are supposed to live lives that are free from evil.

Although Pi often used to feel that God had forsaken him, the tigress Richard Parker helps him to overcome all the obstacles and is hence seen as a helper from God. Therefore, it is clear that the life of Pi illustrates the importance of religion, Faith and God as well. Similarly, the Work of Poe is also characterized by religious symbolism especially in the last chapters. Although both themes have been discussed differently, it is clear that Marten was influenced greatly by the work of Poe especially in discussing religion.

Poe’s Narrative of Arthur Grogon Pym of Nantucket and the Life of Pi are very similar since both of them are adventurous stories involving similar issues such as cannibalism and shipwreck. However, the main aim of the essay is not on the similarity of the main themes but on the influence that Poe had on Yann Martels work.

Nevertheless, the similarity of themes is one of the important factors that can illustrate how the work of Poe was influential. Although there are many issues such as ship wreck and cannibalism that are similar, religious symbolism is the most important factor in the whole story.

In the life of Pi, a supernatural being or God helped the main character to survive the difficult situations and to overcome all the obstacles. Religious symbolism in the Poe’s work which features greatly in the last chapters influenced the role played by God and religion in the life of Pi. Therefore, it cannot be an understatement to conclude that Poe greatly influenced Yann Martel in writing the life of Pi not only in bringing out the idea of God and religion, but also on the presentation of the whole story.

Works Cited

Buchinger, George. The Tiger in the Angolphone Literature. 2009. Web.

Greer, W. R. Life of Pi is a masterful story. 2002. Web.

Martel, Yann. Life of Pi. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002.

NikoRad. Religion and spirituality in Life of Pi, by Yann Martel. 2009. Web.

Quilty, Susan. Religion and spirituality in Life of Pi, by Yann Martel. 2010. Web.

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Life of Pi: Key Characters, Plot, and Themes Essay

September 29, 2020 by Essay Writer


Life of Pi is a popular fantasy novel by Yann Martel, an author from Canada. It tells the story of Piscine, a boy who travels on a life raft with a tiger after surviving a shipwreck. After a series of hardships, the main character returns to civilization and manages to succeed in life. Martel raises several problems, ranging from the costs of survival to the details of religious self-expression.

Key Characters

The discussed novel is not short, but there are very few active characters that participate in the majority of critical events. Pi is a middle-aged Canadian of Indian descent, but he tells the story that happened when he was only sixteen (Palmer 2016). As a teenager, Pi believes in God, practices vegetarianism, and admires wildlife (Martel 2001). The author does not provide many details about Pi’s family. His father, Santosh, owns the Pondicherry Zoo and is skeptical about religion (Martel 2001). Gita, the main character’s mother, is a Hindu woman who implants the love of knowledge in Pi and supports him. Richard Parker also acts as a separate character – he is a three-year-old tiger named after a hunter by mistake. In this book, Richard serves as the symbol of physical power, beauty, and threat (Palmer 2016). Other characters, including Pi’s wife, brother, teacher, and children, are described in brief.

Plot Summary

The book in question consists of three sections, each of which is devoted to the specific phase of the story. In the first part, the protagonist, known as Pi, reflects on his early life in Southern India and his relationships with parents and other family members (Martel 2001). In the first few chapters, some exciting details about Pi are revealed, including the origin of his full name, the experience of being bullied at school, and his father’s zoo and hotel businesses. Apart from these facts, Pi remembers the start of his spiritual journey when he wanted to practice three religions at the same time (Martel 2001). During the so-called Emergency period in India, Pi’s family decides to move to Canada to live in safety.

The next section is focused on Pi’s dangerous adventures during the trip to Canada. After a few days of overwater travel, “the Japanese cargo ship Tsimtsum” carrying the family and their animals runs into a gale and sinks (Martel 2001, 45). Serendipitously, Pi manages to survive and sails away with four animals on a life raft. The animals start killing each other, and Pi eventually finds himself left one on one with a “three-year-old adult Bengal tiger” named Richard Parker (Martel 2001, 47). He starts training the tiger with the help of food and tricks and becomes able to share the boat with Richard without obvious threats to life.

Different mental effects of lonely drifting with no hope of deliverance manifest themselves and make Pi approach the delirious state of mind. The tiger saves him from death a few times, and Pi wrongly assumes that they can communicate verbally. Pi and the tiger discover an island inhabited by suricates and other animals but return to the ocean due to dangerous plants. A few days after, they arrive at a Mexican beach, and the tiger runs away. In the final portion of the book, the narrator describes his communication with the Japanese authorities that investigate the case of Tsimtsum. He meets them in one of the hospitals in Mexico and tells his story, but the officials do not believe him. To avoid problems, he has to invent the second, a more realistic version of the tale by replacing animals with people.

Themes and Personal Opinion

The popularity of the novel is probably related to the number of essential ideas and issues that it raises. First of all, Life of Pi is about the need to change and the survival instinct and its manifestations in life-threatening conditions. In the first chapters, Pi is presented as a vegetarian and a person who never hurts animals. Still, as the story develops, he gradually becomes capable of hunting and eating anything to survive (Palmer 2016). Being alone with wild animals on the boat, Pi becomes an eyewitness of violence in nature when the hyena “plunges head and shoulders into the zebra’s guts” (Martel 2001, 58). This “ghastly, but natural, animal ferocity” urges Pi to challenge his ideals (Palmer 2016, 100). He has to choose between being guided by primal fear and death.

Another major theme is religion or, more specifically, Pi’s self-determination, understanding of God, and connections between religious movements. The reader is told that Pi has been raised as a Hindu but manages to understand the core ideas of the most practiced religions due to his clear-sightedness and love for God (Kuriakose 2018). Pi recognizes things that the adherents of Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity have in common, thus demonstrating his “religious imagination” (Wagner 2016, 1). He believes the concept of God to be universal and describes Hindus as “hairless Christians,” Muslims as “bearded Hindus,” and Christians as “hat-wearing Muslims” (Martel 2001, 26).

In my opinion, the novel is unique since it makes totally different worlds coexist peacefully, and it does not refer only to religion. The author uses various writing techniques and proceeds from obviously fantastic scenes to naturalistic descriptions of what Pi observes during his long journey. To me, Life of Pi is among the books that can be understood in plenty of ways. It means that all people can learn more about themselves when going through a series of unexpected adversities with Pi and trying to imagine what they would do if they were him. From my perspective, Life of Pi encourages individuals to value life just like other shipwreck narratives do. It also teaches the readers that finding their inner strength in critical situations may require revising their views of life.

Personally, I am sure that the book also has a deep meaning when it comes to culture and religion. The author’s multicultural background enables him to make references to different traditions without raising conflicts (Kuriakose 2018). To some extent, the plot demonstrates that a person’s religious affiliation does not matter when his or her life hangs in the balance. From Pi’s inner dialogues, it becomes clear that religious rivalry stems from several artificial barriers between people. Conceivably, the book can make those believing in the superiority of their religion challenge their views, thus improving mutual understanding.


To sum it up, Martel’s novel raises many philosophical themes, including religious self-determination, God’s universality, and behavioral changes that people experience in the face of death. Being quite dynamic, the plot can be interpreted in a variety of ways and lead people to different conclusions. In my opinion, the book teaches the audience to build inner strength, value life, and avoid dividing people by religion.


Kuriakose, John. 2018. “Religious Pluralism in Yan Martel’s Life of Pi: A Case of Intertextual Correspondence with Swami Vivekananda’s Religious Philosophy.” Advances in Language and Literary Studies 9 (2): 138–145. doi:10.7575/aiac.alls.v.9n.2p.138.

Martel, Yann. 2001. Life of Pi. Toronto, Canada: Knopf Canada.

Palmer, Christopher. 2016. Castaway Tales: From Robinson Crusoe to Life of Pi. Middletown, NJ: Wesleyan University Press.

Wagner, Rachel. 2016. “Screening Belief: The Life of Pi, Computer Generated Imagery, and Religious Imagination.” Religions 7 (8): 1–22. doi:10.3390/rel7080096.


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Film Studies: “The Life of Pi” by Ang Lee Essay

September 29, 2020 by Essay Writer

The Life of Pi is a great film based on Yann Martel’s novel which story centers on Pi Patel son of an Indian Zookeeper. Pi’s family decides to move to Canada after the municipality stopped supporting the family Zoo (Ebert n.p.). Pi’s father believes that they would find a place in Canada where they would sell their animals. They board a huge Japanese freighter with all their animals and set out for the ocean.

The freighter experiences huge storms causing it to sink. Pi fights for his survival by taking a lifeboat after which he discovers a huge male tiger named Parker together with other few animals on the boat. Pi has to find a way for survival and gets into the boat as he and the animals start getting thirsty and hungry. At one point, he is forced to build a small raft a safe distance from angry and hungry Parker.

Pi later starts fishing to feed Parker and collects rainwater for them both. They struggle for survival in the rough sea having occasional encounters with ‘kings’ of the sea, for instance, the huge whale that almost overturned their boat. In that event, most of his supplies are lost in the ocean, compelling him to consume fish for the first time (Ebert n.p.).

Pi finds a way of training Parker to accept him, thereby making it less dangerous to be around him. After a few weeks, they reach an island with plenty of food and water and renew their lost energy. The Island turns hostile during the night forcing them to flee. They reach the coast of Mexico where Parker disappears into the jungle badly crushing Pi’s spirit which was now fond of the big jungle cat. Pi is finally rescued and taken to hospital.

The effective use of 3-D format is apparent in the movie from its first frames, making it undoubtedly a must watch for a 3-D fan (Ebert n. p.). The viewer gets captivated by mesmerizing views of Pi’s young life in French India where beautiful landscapes, animals, and colors are used. The cinematographer frames so many sequences with the complexity of field dimension, making it a quite fascinating scenery that attracts most viewers.

Wildly thought to be un-filmable, Ang Lee’s Life of Pi director miraculously achieved it by turning a best-seller novel into an amazing film. The film greatly done, softly combining several religious traditions to enfold its story in the wonder of life (Ebert, 2012). The director was able to bring to the screen an un-filmable story with the use of magnificent mastery of computer animation.

Ang Lee also demonstrated mastery as a director of special effects, noting that most animals in the movie were produced via the wizardry of computer-generated images.

Through his inventiveness, the director also catches the attention of his viewers in certain captivating scenes such as Pi’s making a raft and keeping it in a safe distance from the lifeboat in order to keep himself safe from Parker the tiger, his ability to find food after his stocks were destroyed by the huge whale and many more interesting scenes.

The taming of the tiger is also one of his high highlights. However, the director suffers several setbacks in proving his prowess as the story ends ambiguously.

Ang Lee’s movie is stronger as a visual experience, particularly when watched in 3D and would be a great movie for 3 D visual lovers. The movie is highly adventurous, entertaining, and informative.

Works Cited

Ebert, Roger. (2012). Rogerbert: Life of Pi Review. 20 Nov 2012. Web <>

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Survival of the Fittest in Yann Martel’s “Life of Pi” Term Paper

September 29, 2020 by Essay Writer


Yann Martel’s novel Life of Pi is a must-read tale that presents great tribulations and the fight for survival in difficult circumstances. The masterwork is an account of the life of a shipwrecked young boy named Piscine Molitor Patel who is commonly nicknamed as Pi. In the novel, the young boy Pi is the only survivor after the ship that happens to be carrying him together with his family sinks because of bad weather. What follows in the aftermath of the shipwreck is an ordeal of survival that takes 227 days before the young boy gets to the show when he is finally rescued. In many ways, the survival of Piscine Molitor Patel is a classic example of Darwin’s theory of natural selection, which is mainly referred to as the survival of the fittest. Indeed, it is evident that by the end, only the fittest category makes to the shore so that they can live to tell the story (Speringer 34).

This paper draws immensely from the events of the 227 days that Pi was in the sea. It also presents his survival story. The goal is to show why Yann Martel’s work is a good example of Charles Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory.

Definition of “Survival of the Fittest”

In the mid-1800s, a scientist by the name Charles Darwin advanced the idea of evolution. In what came to be known as the theory of evolution by natural selection, Darwin asserts that animals and plants alike have evolved over time to their current state through the natural selection process, which explains the subject of animal and body adaptation and specialisation (Darwin 13). In explaining the natural selection, Darwin views organisms as having important traits that guarantee their survival at any given period during their existence. According to the method, the traits that are important for the survival of the organism are preserved and passed on to future generations, while the traits that are not important are eliminated together with the organisms.

For instance, if a prey animal such as antelope must survive, it must be able to outpace the predator. In such a scenario, only the fast antelopes stand a chance to survive for long by passing on their genes or traits to the next generations. On the other hand, the predator will catch the antelopes that are not fast enough. Hence, they end up dying before they can pass on their traits to the succeeding generation of antelopes (Crawford and Krebs 23).

In other words, they will be selected against by nature. Gradually, only the fast antelopes will exist since they have an advantage over the prey until another trait or changes in the demands of nature will require better traits to ensure further survival. For example, the predator must also adapt to the status of the prey. In the above illustration, if the predator cannot adapt to catch the antelope, assuming it is the only source of food, it will die of starvation. Such adaptations and specialisations are geared towards ensuring that the organisms with the best traits survive while those with inferior traits die, or are selected against by nature.

The selection of the best survival traits is what Darwin refers to as the survival of the fittest. In this survival of the fittest feat, nature is viewed as unpredictable based on its ability to throw many situations that threaten the very survival of an organism in its given environment. The ability to adapt to these natural events determines whether an organism can survive or not (Kaila and Annila 55). Creatures that have important traits for surviving through the specific event are likely to adapt easily and endure the situation while those that are not well equipped with the necessary traits die out (Gregory 157). Borrowing from the Darwin’s survival of the fittest, the story of the Life of Pi is an entire survival account where the best and the fittest are seen surviving the events that they find themselves in. Such events can be viewed as a life and death situation that lasts for more than 227 days in the ocean.

The Background to the Life of Pi and its relation to Survival

When the family zoo can no longer adequately support the family, Pi’s father does what he thinks is best for his family. He seeks greener pastures in Canada. The journey to the new land separates the family from their new dream life. The ship accommodates Pi’s family members together with some of the animals that were initially in the family zoo, which Pi’s father plans to sell once the family arrives in Canada. Pi’s childhood is like that of ordinary children in his native country. He attends public school just like other ordinary children. However, from an early age, Pi shows a great desire for knowledge. This desire is evident when he seeks to study various religions, which include Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity. Further, he also has a great desire to learn about science. Hence, he questions the atheist teachings of his biology teacher, Mr Kumar (Shmoop par.1).

All the exposure to science and religion offers important lessons and approaches to life that will prove very important in his survival quest later in the story. In addition, he learns how to swim as an important skill, which he is the only one who has it in his family. The skill will prove very important on his survival as opposed to his family members. From an early age, his father had exposed Pi to the danger that is characteristic of animals such as the tiger, which despite it appearing seemingly docile still had its animal instincts of killing (Stephens 41). Such experience to danger at an early age exposed Pi to the concepts of fear and danger, all of which are important aspects of survival in difficult situations. While studying the behaviour of animals in zoos, Pi is exposed to the psychology of animals. He learns important lessons about why some animals attack people, despite them seemingly receiving the best treatment. To him, some animals attack people or escape from the zoo because they are not able to re-adapt to the new environment. Others do not feel safe at all. Such a danger is a threat to their survival and hence their attack on humans or outflows from the zoos. The lessons that the reader learns from this masterpiece are important when it comes to handling animals.

They will prove important for the survival of Pi while at sea. Once the journey begins, there is no return. The family is excited that it is going to have a new life at last. However, the joy is short-lived. The ship runs into bad weather. Unfortunately, it is broken down because of weather issues. From the beginning of the tragedy, the struggle for survival begins. At this point, the survival instincts of Pi are set in motion. For the next 227 days, Pi has to make important decisions, as well as use his instincts to ensure his survival.

Survival During and the Aftermath of the Shipwreck

“In the aftermath of the bloody killing of Zebra, A foul and pungent smell, an earthy mix of rust and excrement, hung in the air. There was blood everywhere, coagulating to a deep red crust” (Martel Life of Pi 159)

The above statement from the novel is reflective of the environment where killing and struggling to live have been the talk of the day as each character fights for its life a few days after the journey had begun. After several days on the voyage, Pi and his family members are awoken by loud noises from the ship. The ship is now heavily tilting from a massive storm that has caught them in the middle of the ocean. He moves to the deck to see what is happening and realises that the situation is very dire and that he is in imminent danger of becoming shipwrecked. When he tries to go back and warn his family, he finds that the corridors to the rooms are already waterlogged. Hence, he cannot access them. He then runs back the deck with the intention of asking for help from the crew members who are in the deck (Shmoop par.2).

Instead, he is thrown overboard with a lifejacket and onto a lifeboat. While on the lifeboat, he sees animals drowning and instinctively sets himself to rescue the tiger, Richard Parker, onto the lifeboat. On the boat are other seriously injured animals that include zebra that has a broken leg, a hyena, and a tiger that is Richard Parker. However, as soon as Richard Parker gets onto the lifeboat, Pi realises his mistake and the obvious danger that he (Richard Parker) poses to the survival of the rest of the group, including Pi himself (Cloete 314). He has to flee from the boat and onto a provisional raft, which he makes to float away from the lifeboat while still tied onto the lifeboat. The battle for the fittest has already begun. In the next 227 days, only the fittest will survive and live to tell the story.

When thrown onto the lifeboat by the Japanese crewmembers, Pi later realises that they have used him as bait for the hyena, which is already in the lifeboat. The Japanese crew team has realised the possibility of being shipwrecked and hence has to take the necessary steps by lowering the lifeboat in preparation for any eventuality. However, when a hyena beats the people to the boat, they are torn between jumping, waiting to drown as the ship sinks, and/or being eaten by the Hyena (Street 179). As a response to the survival instinct, the Japanese crew people have to make important decisions.

In this case, they have to sacrifice Pi to distract the hyena as a way of ensuring that they have a safe landing on the boat, as the hyena will be contented. However, fate conspires against them. Before they can jump onto the lifeboat, the ship sinks. Pi is frightened by the loss of his family, as he witnesses the unbearable situation of the ship going down. However, he realises that he is the only person and with him on the boat are the hyena, zebra, and an orang-utan that are taking refuge in the lifeboat (Ketterer 81). When he sees the tiger, Richard Parker, swimming towards the boat, he encourages him until he gets onto the lifeboat.

Once Richard Parker is on the lifeboat, Pi impulsively realises the danger he has put himself in together with the animals on the boat. Darwin’s presumption of the “survival of the fittest” is evident when Pi flees the boat in fear. According to the theory of evolution, through natural selection, fear is an important survival instinct since it allows organisms to flee, rather than face danger. Fleeing a dangerous situation allows an organism to avoid a confrontation that can lead to injuries or death. In the battle between Pi and Richard Parker, it is evident that Parker has an advantage since he is fashioned to kill and hence the reason why fleeing because of fear is the only alternative for Pi. Pi being a human being, has a better reasoning capacity relative to the other animals. Using his intelligence, which is a major survival trait, makes a temporary raft.

He ties it onto the boat away from the tiger. His thoughts when he realises the presence of the tiger on the boat after coming to his senses following the initial shock of the events of the previous night of the sinking of the ship are well captured when he says, “There was a tiger on the lifeboat. I could hardly believe it, yet I knew I had to. I had to save myself” (Martel Life of Pi 195). After fleeing the boat, his reasoning and intelligence are evident in the activities that he undertakes to make the raft. He takes the life jackets and the ropes from the locker to make a raft. Unlike the animals that are in the boat, he can think rationally and/or be driven by reason. Such actions are not strange when a person in danger does them. Indeed, they are very important indicators of a person who can reason. The reasoning is an important survival instinct that Pi will use on many occasions during his stay in the ocean (Martel How I Wrote Life of Pi par.1).

However, the animals in the boat, including the Hyena, Zebra, and the Orang-utan, have no other way out other than sticking onto the boat. Only the fittest animal among them will survive the ocean tribulations.

The situation in the boat is characterised by chaos. It is a battle for the best to survive. Firstly, the hyena is very voracious. It does not hesitate to make a meal out of the other animals. He begins with the injured zebra where he tears off the injured leg at first. In this contest for survival, the zebra is at a disadvantage. It is weak to compete with the strong hyena that has sharp carnivorous teeth that can tear bones and meat with ease. Even in these circumstances, the animals do not show normal behaviour (Dwyer 13).

For instance, a hyena is known to eat large quantities of food in one sitting, yet in this case, he takes time tearing off the injured leg of the zebra first, as if he is planning on the next part to tear. He seems to know that tearing off the injured zebra’s leg will not lead to death and that the longer the zebra stays alive, the longer the food will be available in this journey, which they find themselves in. However, the zebra’s stay is short-lived. The hyena moves swiftly and kills it, an event that to Pi is very stressful and difficult to comprehend. For the first time, Pi understands the wildness, voraciousness, and animalistic tendencies of the hyena, which while in the zoo did not reveal its wild side. It is evident that the battle for survival has taken one soul and that it is unstoppable. In noting and justifying hyena’s ruthlessness, Pi says,

“But even wild animals that were bred in zoos and have never known the wild, that is perfectly adapted to their enclosures and feel no tension in the presence of humans, will have moments of excitement that push them to seek escape. All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways. This madness can be saving; it is part of the ability to adapt. Without it, no species would survive” (Martel Life of Pi 51).

In hyena’s madness, it is evident that he still has the instinct of killing. In fact, he executes the skill with precision by killing the zebra and getting food for himself for the next few days.

After the death of the zebra in the jaws of the voracious hyena, the next animal to be devoured is the orang-utan. To Pi, the orang-utan represents a motherly love. She expresses human traits. In fact, when she first comes on-board the lifeboat, Pi describes how she seems sick and tired. He says, “The poor dear looked so humanly sick! It is a particularly funny thing to read human traits in animals, especially in apes and monkeys, where is so easy” (Martel Life of Pi 152). When the hyena manages to kill the orang-utan, a major fight ensues between the two. Who will win the fight? In terms of capturing the fight between the hyena and orang-utan, Pi points out that the orang-utan had managed to eat the hyena hard and that the fight seemed to be going in her favour. However, the hyena easily outmatches her when it swiftly goes for her throat, thus killing her on the spot.

The ruthlessness of the hyena shows the quest for survival and/or how animals are dangerous and merciless (Duncan 168). With reference to Darwin’s theory of natural selection, or the survival of the fittest, it is evident that the hyena, which has traits that offer an advantage over other animal characters, outshines the orang-utan and the zebra. The zebra is an obvious prey for the hyena, especially now that he is injured. Hence, he (zebra) is a great disadvantage. He becomes an easy prey because he is helpless. On the other hand, although the orang-utan tries to defend herself, the sheer strength of the hyena means that the battle already has its preferred winner. Hence, although the death devastates Pi, it is expected eventually, especially when the battlefield is in the confines of a small lifeboat. Recounting the scene, Pi says,

“Orange Juice lay next to it, against the dead zebra. Her arms were spread wide open, her short legs were folded together and slightly to one side, she looked like a simian Christ on the Cross. Except for her head…She was beheaded. The neck wound was still bleeding. It was a horrible sight to the eyes and the killing to the spirit” (Martel Life of Pi 135).

After the bloody ordeal that occurs on the boat, Pi can see from his raft that the situation is a matter of time before he faces the hyena on a life and death battle. The hyena has proved himself the most ruthless and eager to survive in the lifeboat, even if it means killing all the other characters in the lifeboat. However, it is evident that even in such circumstances, the hyena has few options and that his animal instinct is all focused on survival. It takes advantage of the weak animals or those that have lesser survival traits based on the circumstances that are in the sea (Morace 56).

As Pi contemplates how to best attack and fight the hyena, Parker, the tiger, emerges from the tarpaulin, pounces on the heartless and ruthless hyena, and kills him instantly to Pi’s relief. The turn of events is an important indicator of the survival of the fittest doctrine at work. From the start of the journey in the lifeboat, the hyena has already shown his bloody and ruthless side and his ability to survive, especially at the advantage of the weaker animals, which include the zebra and the orang-utan. Pi, who is almost oblivious of the presence of the hyena, is preparing to fight the hyena. As the situation stands, the hyena is the only danger to his survival. Ideally, the hyena is battle-ready. He is ready to kill to survive. So far, he has had immense success (Thorn 6).

However, when Richard Parker emerges from the tarpaulin, he kills the beastly hyena instantly. It is evident that there is a more powerful survival force in the lifeboat. Richard Parker represents a major obstacle and a threat to the survival of Pi. Pi has to think, reason, and come up with approaches to taming the beast. Pi is aware that the raft will not last for long. Eventually, he will have to face Parker in what he believes will be a battle of life and death.

Survival with Richard Parker

After the death of the other animals that include the zebra, the hyena, and the orang-utan, it is now Richard Parker and Pi who will be battling for survival. Initially, Pi was aware that he stood no chance with Parker since he (Parker the tiger) can kill and that he can be ruthless. Pi knows this fact too well right from his childhood when his father taught the entire family a good lesson after he threw a live goat into Parker’s cage, which was devoured with unimaginable ruthlessness by Parker. Further, the way he kills the hyena with so much ease is evident that he can easily kill Pi (Thomas 183). In response to these thoughts, Pi has fled the boat.

He currently floats on a raft, which he deems is at a safe distance from the lifeboat where Parker is. He has carried some supplies from the lifeboat. Besides, he is aware that the resources can only sustain him for a few days. However, he does not forget to plan on how to handle Parker. Indeed, through reasoning, which is a major survival instinct and an advantage that Pi has over Parker, he comes up with five major plans on how to handle Parker (De Cunha 235). The plans do not reach the execution level because any plan will mean confronting Parker. Based on reasoning, indications are that Parker may triumph. The sixth plan involves Pi killing Parker, although the execution strategy is the main problem. How will he kill Parker? He has no adequate tools to kill the animal. In any case, the probability of being seriously injured or even killed is very high. Hence, it is better to postpone any confrontations for as long as possible.

After staying on the raft for as long as it took, exposure to salty seawater makes Pi develops sores and boils, which are unbearably painful. The raft is also giving into the waves and corrosion of the seawater. It becomes apparent that a confrontation with the tiger is inevitable and hence the reason why he has to come up with the final plan. Initially, his plan to kill tiger seems very valid since instead of confronting the tiger, he thinks the best approach will be to let the tiger die a slow death from hunger and thirst (Duncan 169). However, such thoughts are short sighted. When he thinks about such an approach, he realises that Parker can swim and that the raft is not beyond his (Parker) reach. In recapping his thoughts and fears upon realising the imminent danger that he might face if Parker decides to swim across to the raft, Pi says,

“I have read that there are two fears that cannot be trained out of us: the startle reaction upon hearing unexpected noise, and vertigo. I would like to add a third, to wit, the rapid and direct approach of a known killer” (Martel Life of Pi 331).

To avoid such a situation where Parker has to make Pi his last meal, Pi decides that the seventh plan will involve taming Parker using the skills of handling animals that he obtains while working at the family zoo with his father. The plan is for Pi to establish himself as the alpha using skills other than fighting, which he is sure he cannot win. Using the strategy of taming the tiger, which he has in store, he manages to enter the lifeboat to establish a demarcation zone where the tiger has his area while Pi has his other area, each on the opposite side of the boat. He says that he had no option but taming Parker to stay away from the threat of being killed any time (Spall 14).

In this case, it is evident that Pi realises that instead of living in the fear of Parker or without him at all by killing him, it will be better to tame and coexist with him in this predicament, which only the fittest have survived so far. In the boat, Pi has a reason to live and that is keeping Parker alive for as long as possible. If he keeps Parker alive, he knows that Parker will not have to kill him because he will be getting enough food and water. The situation is a tough challenge, especially when he notes that getting food and water is the biggest encounter. Indeed, getting water to drink appears to be the biggest immediate challenge. In the beginning, Pi uses water rations that are available as part of the survival supplies that are available in the lifeboat (Dwyer 12).

Because he is a person with reason, he focuses on ensuring that the food and water last for as long as possible since he is not sure of how long the remaining journey will take. He also knows that Parker is not a completely tamed animal. Hence, by not providing food and water to him, he may be killed. Instead, Pi focuses on using seasickness and a whistle to demand compliance or subordination of Parker. With time, Parker learns to associate the whistle with seasickness. This way, Pi can easily control Parker with a whistle. He can easily maintain his territory while Parker keeps his region. From the above events, it is evident that the fact that Pi has a higher intelligence is a major advantage. He is able to use it to tame and control Parker and consequently establish himself as the alpha. However, he does not forget that such an advantage can only remain valid if Parker is not hungry and hence the reason why he makes deliberate efforts to ensure that he is well fed.

In all his life, Pi has developed strong religious values, which uphold the importance of life. Indeed, he is a vegetarian. Hence, he has a difficult time trying to abandon his beliefs to become a meat eater. However, survival demands cannot allow him to remain a vegetarian for long (Nilsen 115). He has to learn to kill not only for himself, but also for Richard Parker whose only meal is meat. The struggle between his beliefs and his demands for survival is evident when he encounters the flying fish feast.

Although he manages to catch several fish flying overboard, he feels very guilty for taking away the life of the fish. He regards the act of assassination as killing a rainbow or butchering an innocent creature. Under the circumstances that he is in, he knows that there is no other option. To survive, he has to make this decision. He has to learn how to kill, and most importantly, how to overcome his ‘vegetarianist’ beliefs. Hence, he has to eat meat since it is the only way to survive for him and for Parker. He notes that under the circumstance, an individual can become evil and get used to it. He says, “The scary truth about evil is that, one can get used to anything” (Markel 185). His turn around from vegetarianism to a sworn hunter is a major triumph for the survival instinct and a major indicator of Darwin’s theory of survival. An organism will do anything in its capacity to survive. Consequently, Pi’s actions are a clear indicator of this major shift and the desire for survival (Gregory 158).

Following his first killing, Pi becomes a ruthless hunter who does not feel disgusted to kill. In this process, apart from his survival, he is aware that he must kill enough to keep Parker alive for his safety and survival as well. At the end and after overcoming his initial fears of killing, Pi’s declaration that a person can get used to any evil makes him a ruthless killer. He is no longer disgusted. He no longer appears to struggle or be troubled with killing fish or any other creature that comes his way. His killing becomes the norm. Indeed, it does not seem to be an issue of major concern in the story. He mentions the volumes of food and the varieties together with the brutal methods that are deployed to get the food. For instance, to show his level of brutality, he points to a case where he kills a turtle and drinks its fresh blood, which can be equated to becoming a bloodthirsty individual who is almost equal to an animal. He captures his situation well when he says,

“You may be astonished that in such a short period of time I could go from weeping over the muffled killing of a flying fish to gleefully bludgeoning to death a Dorado. I could explain it by arguing that profiting from a pitiful flying fish’s navigational mistake made me shy and sorrowful, while the excitement of actively capturing a great Dorado made me sanguinary and self-assured. But in point of a fact explanation lies elsewhere. It is simple and brutal: a person can get used to anything even killing” (Martel Life of Pi 234).

The flying fish that pounds the lifeboat area is blessing for Pi and Parker. For the first time, Pi is actively involved in catching and eating as many fish as he can get. In describing the moment, Pi says that the tiger appeared stronger compared to him when it came to getting the fish. Parker is able to get many of them because of his energetic body and malicious character, especially when he sees a prey (Morace 34). Indeed, the behaviour of Parker and the way he ravages the fish is a clear reminder that he still has his animal instinct, a fact that only acts to ensure that Pi is determined to ensure that Parker is well fed.

Another important aspect that emanates from the event relating to Parker’s destructive nature is that Pi seems to admire how Parker is a devastating animal. In his mind, it is a battle of whether he should become as ravage as Parker or retain his morality and humanity. He chooses the latter option. However, this goal can only be achieved by keeping an active diary where he notes the events of his journey as it progresses. He writes on a daily basis until he runs out of pens. It is only through his ability to write to keep memories of his journey that he can at least distinguish himself from Parker, the animal (Dwyer 16). Otherwise, he is not different from Parker in terms of his brutality and his eating habits, which involve eating raw meat and drinking fresh blood from the sea creatures that he manages to catch.

When they are pushed ashore on the carnivorous island, it is a good feeling, especially in the plenty of food that is available in the mysterious islands. The island is full of meerkats, as well as fresh water. In response to their hunger and thirst, Pi and Parker begin a serious eating session where they kill and eat many meerkats. A good case in point of their ruthlessness is evident when Pi tries to sooth his legs with the blood of several meerkats that he kills in the island. When the nightfall comes, Pi and Parker soon realise that it is not just an island, but also a carnivorous one, which consumes all animals that are unlucky to be on the surface. The lucky animals flee to trees while Parker has to flee to the lifeboat.

The events of the carnivorous island are also an important example of survival of the fittest. Animals that have the necessary traits to climb trees or run out of the island as Parker did are the ones that escape being eaten. Pi has climbs on a tree. The following day, Pi has to make an important decision to proceed with his journey because it is not the place he would wish to stay without civilisation, although the island is full of food and fresh water. He says,

“By the time morning came, my grim decision was taken…I preferred to set off and perish in search of my own kind than to live a lonely half-life of physical comfort and spiritual death on this murderous Island” (Martel Life of Pi 357).

Although the decision may seem misplaced to many people, it is indeed a triumph of reason over survival. Human beings are social beings. Hence, staying alone in this island is a wrong decision. Pi and Parker have already survived in the open sea. Hence, it appears only logical to know that they will survive again until the time they will be swept onshore or get spotted by a ship and be taken to safety. When they are finally spotted and rescued on the shores of Mexico, it becomes evident that only the fittest characters have survived. It takes more than just the survival instinct, but also reason, for Pi and Richard Parker to last for 227 days in the ocean.


The novel Life of Pi is indeed a tale of survival of the fittest. Survival of the fittest is a term that was coined in relation to the theory of evolution through natural selection by Charles Darwin. The theory holds that only organisms that have the right and advanced survival traits for a given situation in the environment survive while the others die. At the start of the Life of Pi and immediately after the shipwreck, very few animals together with Pi can survive. Hence, the battle for survival begins. The zebra is the first to die followed by the orang-utan, all in the jaws of the voracious hyena. It is evident that the hyena is fit for the battle at that stage, although Richard Parker, the tiger, later kills him.

On the other hand, Pi has to find ways of dealing with Parker. Using reason, which is a major survival instinct and an advantage, he is able to tame and control Parker. Survival demands make Pi overlook his beliefs that relate to life. He becomes a killer. In fact, he abandons his vegetarianism ideology to safeguard his survival and that of Richard Parker. He is aware that it is only by keeping Richard Parker fed and quenched that he stands a chance to live. If Parker gets hungry, the beast can easily eat him. At the end of the story, Parker and Pi are the only survivors because they have proved the fittest in the life and death situation that has prevailed in the lifeboat.

Work Cited

Cloete, Elsie. “Tigers, Humans and Animots.” JLS/TSW 23.3 (2007): 314-333. Print.

Crawford, Charles, and Dennis Krebs. Handbook of evolutionary psychology: Ideas, issues, and applications. Netherlands: Springer, 2013. Print.

Darwin, Charles. The origin of species by means of natural selection: or, the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2009. Print.

De Cunha, Rubelise. “MARTEL Yann.” Life of Pi: a novel”. Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2001.” Interfaces Brasil/Canadá 3.1 (2012): 235-242. Print.

Duncan, Rebecca. “Life of Pi as postmodern survivor narrative.” Mosaic: a journal for the interdisciplinary study of literature 41.2 (2008): 167-176. Print.

Dwyer, June. “Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and the Evolution of the Shipwreck Narrative.” Modern language studies 1.1 (2005): 9-21. Print.

Gregory, Ryan. “Understanding natural selection: essential concepts and common misconceptions.” Evolution: Education and Outreach 2.2 (2009): 156-175. Print.

Kaila, Ville, and Arto Annila. “Natural selection for least action.” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 464.2099 (2008): 55-76. Print.

Ketterer, David. “Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and Poe’s Pym (and “Berenice”).” Poe Studies 42.1 (2009): 80-86. Print.

Martel, Yann. How I Wrote Life of Pi, 2007. Web.

Martel, Yann. Life of Pi. Wales: Random House Incorporated, 2007. Print.

Morace, Robert. “Life of Pi.” Magill’s Literary Annual 2003. Literary Reference Centre. Columbus: Mississippi for Women Lib, 2003. Print.

Nilsen, Don. “Onomastic Play and Suspension of Disbelief in Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.” Onoma 40.1 (2005): 115-124. Print.

Shmoop, Mitchell. Life of Pi Summary, 2015. Web.

Spall, Rafe, and Yann Martel. Life of Pi. Netherlands: Springer, 2013. Print.

Speringer, Markus. Survival of the Fittest!?. Netherlands: Springer, 2012. Print.

Stephens, Gregory. “Feeding Tiger, Finding God: Science, Religion, and” the Better Story” in Life of Pi.” Intertexts 14.1 (2010): 41-59. Print.

Street, Steve. “Life of Pi (review).” The Missouri Review 27.1 (2004): 179-180. Print.

Thomas, Bindu. “Territory and Power: Towards A Biocentric Reading of Yann Martel’s Life of Pi: A Novel.” Essays in Ecocriticism 1.1 (2007): 182-186. Print.

Thorn, Michael. “Cannibalism, Communion, and Multifaith Sacrifice in the Novel and Film Life of Pi.” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 27.1 (2015): 1-15. Print.

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Taming One’s Id in Yann Martel’s “Life of Pi” Term Paper

September 29, 2020 by Essay Writer


The novel Life of Pi by Yann Martel is a captivating chef-d’oeuvre that features three main parts, which follow the life of Pi and a tiger that is referred to as Richard Parker. From the beginning, it is evident that the novel is about God, spirituality, religion, soul, and mind. The events that unfold throughout the novel put these themes to a great test. Further, the novel covers the biological survival process, which is pitted against the previously mentioned themes. One of the greatest fears that Pi faces is death, which is also greatly tested. Pi’s will to survive is evident by the end of the novel. In many ways that will be discussed, Richard Parker, the tiger, represents the issues that Pi fears. Consequently, Parker acts as an important representation of how Pi manages his Id. Hence, as the paper confirms, Richard Parker represents a complex analysis of taming one’s id.

Defining Id

According to Lapsley and Stey, id is one of the three human psychological states that include the ego and superego (1). These states represent the innate desires that are focused on survival. The id is unconscious. It is the only personality component that is present at birth. It acts as the main driver of people’s personality. The component strives not only to fulfil the most basic urges in an individual that are largely tied to survival but also is an important provider of the energy that is necessary for driving personality. The id is based on the pleasure principle, which points out that every desire should be satisfied immediately without consideration of the consequences (Lapsley and Stey 1).

For instance, at infancy, even before other personality components develop, infants are dominated and guided by id. At their tender age, the basic needs of food, drink, and comfort are of utmost importance. If they are not provided, crying is the only way the kids express their dissatisfaction. After the needs are met, the children are likely to stop crying (Lapsley and Stey 2). However, the children’s approach to demanding satisfaction of their needs, as per their id, is not applicable in real-life situations. For instance, as people get older, it becomes clear that acting out to satisfy the needs of the id whenever they arise can be problematic and hence the need and importance of the other personality components of ego and superego (Lapsley and Stey 4). In Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, Pi faces insurmountable situations, which require him to act to the desires of id for his survival, yet his companion, Richard Parker, is the main hindrance towards these desires and hence an important representation of how Pi manages to control his id.

Adjusting to Life without Family Protection

When the young Pi and his family begin their journey across the pacific, he comes on board with great admiration and love for the family, humanity, and all prescriptions of religion (Ketterer 80). However, his fear of death is revealed when he is shown by his father that despite the animals that are put in cages seeming friendly, they are dangerous and that they should never be taken for granted or wrongly be seen as friendly (Ludwig 226). By the end of the journey, Pi’s fear of death, desire for survival, and his morality and religious beliefs are put into immense test. To some people, Richard Parker represents all Pi’s fears and consequently, his weaknesses (Ketterer 82). During the journey, the ship that Parker uses is caught between bad sea weather. After a long battle with the weather, the ship is unable to cope with the situation. Ultimately, it sinks. His whole family dies. Besides, many of the animals that his father had brought on board from the family zoo die (Nilsen 115). At the end of the disastrous events, Pi finds himself the only person who survives together with several other animals, including Zebra, Hyena, Orang-utan, and the Tiger (Richard Parker). In the aftermath of the shipwreck, Pi is instantly ushered into adulthood where he has to make critical decisions regarding his wellbeing, amid the turmoil that is present in the confines of the lifeboat. The confusion brings together various beings that would otherwise not coexist for a single minute in normal circumstances (Duncan 167). Before the shipwreck, Pi is a young boy who has thrived in the confines and protection of a family. He has good relationships with his parents, especially his father, who teaches him many activities and experiences in handling animals as a zookeeper. Since the cushioning of parents is not available anymore, the next 227 days will test the young boy’s maturity to the core.

Religion and its Role in Pi’s Personality during the Early Stages of his Life at the Sea

In the first part of the novel, a young boy who believes in three religions, namely Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism is introduced, thus setting a complex personality, which is built upon strong beliefs in religion and God (Wolf 107). In other words, the young boy, Pi, has a strong sense of spirituality and morality, which, to a great extent, guides his actions and interactions with people and nonhuman subjects such as animals. Indeed, when he interacts with a nonbeliever, Mr Kumar, the biology instructor, Pi’s strong religious convictions are laid bare through his interpretations of what the teacher delivers. For example, when the teacher points out that religion is darkness, Pi takes the very opposite viewpoint by pointing out that he sees religion as light instead of darkness (De Cunha 235).

In fact, Pi does not seem to take Mr Kumar’s assertions serious. Instead, he claims that the teacher is trying to test him. With reference to Mr Kumar’s statement that faith is darkness, Pi thinks to himself, “was the testing me? Was he saying, religion is darkness, the way he sometimes said in class, things like Mammals lay eggs, to see if someone would correct him”( Martel Life of Pi 27). Although the atheist teacher sometimes convinces Pi with his virtues of science, Pi regards science as complimenting, but not opposing religion, as the teacher would view it.

In the initial stages of the disorderliness that is present in the lifeboat, it is evident that the fight between humanity, spirituality, and survival take centre stage from the start. For instance, when he first sees Richard Parker swimming towards the lifeboat, he exclaims, “Jesus, Mary, Muhammad and Vishnu, how good to see you Richard Parker” (Martel Life of Pi 95). In this statement, while he is overly confused on how to react to the fact that a tiger is coming his way, he is delighted that the tiger is alive, owing to the fact that it is his much-loved animal in the zoo. His humanity, innocence, and spirituality push Pi into helping Richard Parker while in the lifeboat (Thomas 182).

He is happy after helping the animal into the boat. Consequently, the kind act saves its life. However, his joy is short-lived. Soon, he realises the grave danger he is in by having Richard Parker (Stephens 41). While trying to exercise his desires and his humanistic feelings, Pi cannot stand Richard Parker dying in the water. He acts instinctually to bring the animal onboard without due consideration of the events that may follow if the animal acts on its instincts of eating him for survival purposes.

Upon the realisation of the great danger that Richard Parker poses on his survival, Pi acts impulsively on his id by fleeing from the boat and hanging on the edges of the lifeboat. For several days, Richard Parker and Pi behave suspiciously towards each other. Pi seems to be getting the most negative consequences out of this ordeal. He later makes a raft and takes some food off the lifeboat with the mission of staying as far as possible from the tiger to ensure that he can survive for as long as possible. He ties the raft to the lifeboat. For the next few days, he is satisfied that he is not in danger any more.

However, being on the raft exposes Pi to other unexpected complex problems that he could not have considered. Firstly, upon the exposure to extreme sunlight and seawater penetrating his raft since it (raft) is not watertight, Pi realises that the two agents, that is, seawater and the sun, conspire to cause him sores and boils (Fiamengo 56). The infections are serious on his body sides that are near the water, such as the backside. As he notes,

“Saltwater boils-red, angry, disfiguring- were the leprosy of the high seas, transmitted by the water that soaked me. Where they burst, my skin especially sensitive; accidental rubbing an open sore so painful I would gasp and cry out” (Martel Life of Pi 187).

Such a sorrowful narration shows the complex sufferings that young Pi is undergoing, yet his quest for survival cannot allow him to give up. He also gets much inspiration from religion, especially Jesus, whose misfortunes he can relate to and hence purpose to overcome them just as Jesus did (De Cunha 237). He must strive to ensure that his sores heal by remaining dry, or else his survival will be a very difficult challenge, especially when he has to make all the decisions on his life. His survival or lack thereof lies in his hands.

Religion offers the young boy Pi hope and faith that guide his many actions, despite the presence of the strong id-driven instincts for survival. For an instant, while he is still a Hindu, he is introduced to Jesus Christ, or Christianity, when he meets Father Martin. Through his interaction with Martin, he becomes a Christian, although not in the real sense, as he does not abandon his Hindu faith. As a young convert to Christianity, he learns about Jesus Christ’s sufferings and his death out of love for the human race and the creation (Fiamengo 58). However, Pi is perturbed. He deeply questions why a supreme being would want to die and suffer.

His kind gesture to save Parker comes in his mind and claims that he should be treated the same way he handled Parker. However, the situation is complicated because a big deal of his suffering results from Parker’s failure to let the two creatures share the same environment in the boat. However, his questions only lead to the beauty of Christianity. Indeed, his Christian beliefs prove very important and critical lessons for his survival on the lifeboat, as he is ready to bear the sufferings and show love to even the greatest of his adversaries, the tiger (Wolf 108). Instead of taking the path Mr Kumar would have taken by disowning God, Pi takes it as a divine example and hence seeks to stay focused and loving even in the face of death and strong sense of the desire to survive, which would have otherwise pushed him to act irrationally and instinctively in response to Parker’s id. For this matter, Christianity has given him the confidence, courage, and affection Richard Parker ends up enjoying and consequently surviving in the impossible conditions of the sea and misery of living in the confines of a lifeboat (Dwyer 9).

The influence of Parker and other religions on Pi’s behaviour and actions while at sea is also evident. He never leaves his Hindu faith, just as he decides to stay with Parker, despite the consequences that he (Parker) might bring to him. Instead, he combines his knowledge with that of Christianity and later with his Muslim teachings. Hindu teaches him about love, while Islam teaches him about brotherhood (Stratton 11).

These morals combine with the teachings of Christianity on endurance and suffering such that he can survive and/or show love even to the greatest enemy, Parker. For instance, while Christianity pushes him to show love, faith, and endurance even in the midst of great tribulations, which would otherwise prompt hatred between Parker and him, Hinduism and Islam teach him to extend love and comradeship to all, including the enemy (Tai 96). His approach to the three religions is also a very important depiction of his personality, which seeks to find the good where others would find the bad (Thorn 3). Pi takes the best out of each religion hence getting a better understanding of divinity, which the three religions seek to provide (Mensch 135). He takes the perseverance of Christianity, love of Hinduism, and goodwill of Islam, to explain many happenings in his life, hence increasing his ability to act differently and to survive even when it would have been logical to act otherwise (Martel How I Wrote Life of Pi 80).

Parker is the sole beneficiary of Pi’s efforts. Although he is rescued from dying in the sea, he ends up creating an environment where Pi has to seek divine interventions for both to survive. Parker’s harshness makes him survive in the boat because of Pi’s lessons from the religions that teach him not to react to Parker, even when he (Parker) is a threat to him. In the end, he gets inspiration from the principles of each religion and uses them to make important decisions that ensure that he can survive for longer than what would be possible in a death-life situation that Pi finds himself in a while in the sea and/or boat with Parker. Parker survives the dangerous conditions of living in a lifeboat for 227 days in the open sea and in the company of Pi who would have otherwise used in human instincts to kill him (Parker).

Overcoming Id’s Fear

Martel depicts Parker as a fierce animal that disrupted Pi’s peace in the sea (186). In fact, Pi’s fears while at sea are captured well when he points,

“I was alone and orphaned, in the middle of the Pacific, hanging on to an oar, an adult tiger in front of me, sharks beneath me, a storm raging above me” (Martel Life of Pi 105).

Everywhere, he was surrounded by great dangers to his survival. Only the provisional raft seemed to provide him with the necessary motivation to keep going and to remain alive (Georgis 165). This observation is a major irony, owing to how he would have never imagined in real life that such a simple structure could make the difference between life and death. His ordeal definitely has taught him to overcome great tribulations, a key indicator of id in action by opting for survival against all the odds (Cole 24).

In his words, he used the impermanent device for a very long time until it was almost completely gone. He imagines a situation where Parker could have decided to disrupt his peace while in the oar. This situation would have marked his end of the journey since he could have dropped in the sea and probably encounter other fierce sea animals. The young boy recognises the dangers that surround him but chooses what to prioritise. In this case, the tiger is not an immediate threat compared to the ocean (Burns 165).

Focusing on the id, in an ideal, he would have acted unconsciously, owing to his fears of the dangers that surround him, and effectively fled to the unknown to his eventual death. However, he learns to hold down his instinct, id-driven desires and makes deliberate decisions on what his best approaches to survival entail (Spall and Martel 4). For now, as long as Richard Parker remains hidden in the side of the lifeboat under the tarpaulin, no immediate danger comes from him since he does not know that Pi is just some few metres from the boat. Parker is indeed oblivious of Pi’s presence, something that gives Pi’s imagination some comfort and less stress that would otherwise be present if Pi ever thinks that Parker knows he is around. The scenario is a battle between fear and reason where reason triumphs, and hence a major win over id (Cole 25). Capturing this fight between reason and fear relating to the consequences of Parker being so near, Pi says,

“Fear and reason fought over the answer. Fear said yes. He was a fierce, 450-pound carnivore. Richard Parker could shred it with his claws with a little time and effort, but he couldn’t pop through like a jack-in-the-box. And he had not seen me…Since he had not seen me, he had no reason to claw his way through” (Martel Life of Pi 106).

The most important lesson here is that while instinct, as evidenced through fear, can aggravate the situation, it is important to think and act rationally. This claim shows how the presence of Parker is forcing Pi to find ways of taming id by acting rationally, as opposed to the irrational manner that his id would demand (Mensch 135). Although the above reasoning gives him peace of mind during impossible times, his comfort is short-lived. He is aware that he will have to face Richard Parker eventually by killing him, being killed by the tiger, or learning how to coexist.

Deciding the best way to deal with the beast that Richard Parker is revealed an important battle between id and rationality. Firstly, Pi comes up with five strategic plans on how to handle the beast. However, all strategies seem to lead to one problem: how to execute them without Pi being the casualty (Thorn 4). The beast is definitely born to be a predator. All odds indicate that the predator wins in every battle of the killer and the target. Pi is definitely not going to take such drastic measures to put himself on the leeway. Hence, he comes up with a sixth plan, which involves letting Richard Parker die a natural death out of hunger and thirst. However, he soon realises that Parker can swim. Definitely, there is no way he can escape death if Parker decides to swim across the short distance that separates them. He sums the fear that he would face when faced by Richard Parker when he decides that Pi is the next meal when he says,

“I have read that there are two fears that cannot be trained out of us: the startle reaction upon hearing unexpected noise, and vertigo. I would like to add a third, to wit, the rapid and direct approach of a known killer” (Martel Life of Pi 256).

Such a statement, which in is in reference to Richard Parker clearly shows the kind of fear that Pi had to overcome order to face Richard Parker, if he had any chance to survive more than what the raft had offered him. He makes the decision that he must come out of his raft, hold onto the lifeboat, and use the dominance skills that his father had taught him at the zoo to subdue his enemy by establishing himself as the dominant being over the other animals, including Richard Parker on the lifeboat (Tai 96). When he finally subdues the beast, it is evident that in the quest for his survival, overcoming his fears is an important milestone towards overcoming and taming his id, which would have otherwise pushed him to take drastic measures that would have instead jeopardised his ability to survive at the sea.

In the process of dominating the enemy, creating boundaries is of great importance. This strategy is evident in the novel where Pi demarcates the boat using his urine, following the weird behaviour of Richard Parker. Such behaviour might be evident in an animal, rather than a human being. Instead of killing the tiger, Pi views the animal as an essential part of his survival. Although Parker is a dangerous creature he can become a very important companion when he is tamed (Stratton 11). Amidst his domination on the lifeboat is disorderliness, especially from the other lifeboat members who are also trying their best to survive. Apart from the danger that is posed by the tiger, which he has now tamed, Richard Parker is also weary of the presence of the hyena and the orang-utan, which are very docile during the day. However, at night, his fear is evident when he says,

“Darkness came. There was no moon. Clouds hid the stars. The contour of things became hard to distinguish. Everything disappeared, the sea, the lifeboat, my own body. The sea was quiet and there was hardly any wind, so I couldn’t even ground myself in sound. I seemed to be floating in pure, abstract blackness. I kept my eyes fixed on where I thought horizon was while my ears were on guard for any sign of the animals…I couldn’t imagine lasting the night” (Martel Life of Pi 116).

The confusion that is present on the lifeboat is evident, especially through the way the animals kill each other for a meal. The zebra is badly injured. He becomes an easy meal for the hyena that then goes on to eat the Orang-utan. Finally, the tiger kills the hyena. When all other animals are dead, Pi has to find ways of avoiding becoming the next meal for Richard Parker. Hence, his goal is to not only coexist but also to keep him alive for as long as possible without jeopardising his chances of survival (Mensch 136). In his quest, he aims at ensuring that he establishes a relationship with Richard Parker by becoming his source of livelihood. He ensures that Parker is dependent on him, hence erasing the possibility of him becoming the next meal. The plan works well. However, Pi does not forget the retaliation nature of the tiger since he is still an animal, despite being docile and respectful towards him after he establishes himself as the dominant in the lifeboat (Tsai 96).

When the lifeboat lands on a mysterious island, the food and fresh water that exist there provide an important opportunity for id to take root in Pi’s ordeal. He can choose to remain there forever with Richard Parker. However, at night, the island becomes a killer trap. Creatures that manage to climb on trees can survive. Even Parker has to seek refuge on the boat, although the move greatly shakes Pi to the core. While id would have required Pi and Parker to remain in the island, Pi sees it as a way of postponing the inevitable death. He decides to set voyage to the unknown, instead of dying on the mysterious island, a major victory over id (Dwyer 10).

Richard Parker’s Role in Pi’s Taming of Id

The way Pi was brought up was not to face or be friendly to animals such as Richard Parker. Indeed, when his father finds that Pi has been sneaking to feed or entertain the tiger on the ship, he is shown the immense brutality of the tiger when he is forced to watch a goat being devoured. From the beginning, he is curtailed to avoid a tiger and if possible never be with the beast in a small space such as the one the lifeboat offers. Indeed, such deep-rooted fear for the tiger pushes him to stay in the raft for very many days until it becomes impossible to stay any longer and hence the need to face the tiger. Overcoming such great fears definitely requires a major disowning of the id-guided instinct of fear and fleeing from danger to actually mastering how to find comfort and solace in the danger (Ketterer 85).

While the fear for Richard Parker is still present, Pi does not opt to flee, as it would be required in a fearful situation, but instead focuses on acting with reason. Hence, Pi has to think critically concerning the ways through which he can prevent himself from becoming Richard Parker’s next meal. Firstly, he has to establish dominance, which he has already achieved by utilising the skills he has gained from his father who was a zookeeper (Nilsen 116). Secondly, he must keep in mind that Richard Parker is still an animal that needs food. Hence, no amount of dominance can prevent the animal from eating him (Nilsen 116).

With this awareness, Pi strives to ensure that Parker is fed as it the only way he can become a tamed animal. Without food, Parker will become hungry and thirsty to the extent of acting on his animal instinct of survival where he may make Pi his next meal. It is out of these reasons that Pi finds purpose in keeping Richard Parker alive for as long as it takes. If he is hungry, Pi will probably be his last meal. What Pi does in order to ensure that he can feed Parker and consequently ensure his survival leads to many questions and doubts on his interpretation of religion as he has depicted himself as a person who has a deep love for God, especially with his deep knowledge relating to three religions, which he sought in his quest for God.

The depth he is willing to go to survive is evident in the second narration where he substitutes the animals for humans. This plan clearly depicts his brutality. Hence, he is not different from Richard Parker, the tiger. In one of the conversations with the French cannibal who is brutal and ready to live and kill for his survival, Pi views the man as the exact description of a subconscious creature. However, the description comes to reflect on Pi when he kills the French cook in the second story. Worse, he does not feel sorry or remorseful for his actions. Instead, he points to his actions by responding and indulging in the momentary and soothing nature of revenge, which he ironically finds satisfying and not evil (Duncan 168).

He is becoming used to evil. To reflect his current state, he says that the frightening reality about wickedness is that an individual ends up copying with any situation, even to the level of becoming comfortable with evil. He adopts this survival tactic to avoid the great evil, that is, Richard Parker.

In his quest for retaining sanity on the boat and keeping himself alive, Pi’s actions are greatly at odds with his spirituality and the teachings he has gained from his religious endeavours. By not viewing his killing of the French cook as evil, he goes against what he has learned from religion relating to love for one another. Earlier in the novel, he justifies this behaviour as a form of madness that often leads one into doing actions that challenge his or her beliefs to the core. He reveals a degree of lunacy that steers life in bizarre but ferocious paths. This insanity due to the suffering and hunger on the lifeboat turns Pi into an animal that can murder others for survival. In the start of his life on the lifeboat, even killing a fish is such a guilty-causing endeavour where he is only comfortable and settled when the fish is alive (De Cunha 238).

With time, the drive for survival makes him more and more brutal to the extent of killing bigger and bigger animals until at last he is ready to kill human beings and actually justify it, as opposed to feeling guilty. He reaches a point where he is now questioning God’s true nature and love, which he has greatly focused on in his learning of the religion. In his own words, Pi says that it is difficult to demonstrate love in some situations. However, unlike other people’s reaction of disowning God, just like his biology professor who became an atheist when he could not get answers for his polio bedridden childhood, he instead complains that God was not available to intervene. In this statement, it is evident that he believes that God is still present, although he takes too long to hear or respond. Consequently, Pi has to act according to his convictions to ensure survival until the time when God will respond.

The presence of Richard Parker and the evident slow response of God to Pi’s predicament in an unlikely twist leads him to seeking to know God more and to have faith and optimism, which are important virtues of being religious. In the vastness of his problems, which are represented by the lack of food and water, despite being surrounded by a massive water body and uncountable sea creatures that are underneath the lifeboat, Pi’s faith is tested to the core. How could it be so difficult to find food and water when the two resources were just an arm reach away?

In the midst of this despair, he ought to have given up and surrendered to the slow death of hunger and thirst or to the fast death of the tiger’s claws and teeth. Instead, he responds to his suffering with affection, confidence, and hope. He realises that despite his fears and drastic measures he has taken to ensure his survival, only confidence and optimism can see him through. In his deepest conviction, God is looking unto him with a good purpose and hence the reason why he and Richard Parker survive for this long out of the many other people and animals. The parallels of his interpretation of suffering can easily be drawn between Pi and his teacher, Mr Kumar, the nonbeliever and biology instructor. When Mr Kumar faces a life-death situation through polio sickness, he asks himself daily, “Where is God? Where is God? Where is God? Where is God? God never comes” (Martel Life of Pi 27). On the contrary, when Pi faces the same situation, he does not interpret the lack of God’s manifestation as to indicate absence but rather a delayed response, and hence the reason why he remains hopeful and has faith that beyond the suffering, God will see him through.

To show his strong belief in the presence of a supreme being in his problems, Pi resolves to continue extending his love to his friends and enemies. Such a statement has varied interpretations. However, as it relates to the context on this section, he seems to indicate that he will continue to love not only God but also Richard Parker. It is also a clear indication that he would continue to have faith and hope. Through his faith and hope for survival at the end, he has been stayed alive for this long. His situation does not allow him to love easily. Although he shares a great misery with Richard Parker, he resolves to take care of him (Wolf 108).

In the first story, Pi’s faith has taught him to love his neighbour, Richard Parker, despite him being a dangerous animal. On the other hand, the consequences of not having trust, confidence, and love are evident when he loses all of them and acts irrationally to the extent of killing the French cook at his most miserable point. From these two parallel stories, it becomes clear that having faith and hope is very important in helping one to share his or her love with others.


Throughout the novel, the protagonist, Pi, faces major problems that threaten his strong beliefs and most importantly, his life. Richard Parker contributes a great deal to these problems. However, he manages to survive against all odds. How he manages to overcome these challenges is the most fascinating part of the story. It indicates a combination of many aspects such as his strong belief in God, faith, love, and a strong desire to survive. From the start, Pi is a brilliant young boy whose explorations lead him to read widely, especially on matters of religion, where he takes up the teachings of three religions, which include Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. He is also a student of science.

Although he does not believe in atheism, he takes up the important segments of the teaching of science, as well as the three approaches to religion and the subject of God. He has also taken up important lessons from his father, a zoologist, on how to handle and interact with animals. When his family becomes shipwrecked, a battle of survival begins. Survival is an important part of id, the personality trait, which focuses on the pleasure principle.

If it is untamed, id makes it difficult for an individual to coexist with others due to its selfish connotations. In the small space that is available in the lifeboat, it becomes evident that Pi has to make important decisions to ensure that he survives and that he does not end up being a meal for the tiger, Richard Parker, who is also confined in the lifeboat. It is indeed the presence of Richard Parker that Pi learns how to tame his id. At first, Pi flees from the boat, a response to his survival instinct, and lives on a raft, to ensure that he is as far from Parker as possible. However, he later learns that he will have to face Parker eventually.

Hence, he has to face his fears. Overcoming fear is his first lesson and triumph over his id because of Richard Parker. However, he cannot overcome his id completely. This situation leads him to act in ways that he would not otherwise approve. For instance, he has to kill fish to feed Richard Parker. He also has to kill the French cook. These acts are a clear indication of id in play. However, using his religious background, he has to show love, have faith, and hope that all will be well. Any reader who follows keenly the proceedings of this work will declare Yann Martel’s Life of Pi an informative piece of masterwork.

Works Cited

Burns, Steven. “Life of Pi and the Existence of Tigers.” Engaged Philosophy: Essays in Honour of David Braybrooke. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 2007. Print.

Cole, Stewart. “Believing in Tigers: Anthropomorphism and Incredulity in Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.” Studies in Canadian Literature/Études en littérature canadienne 29.2 (2004): 23-41. Print.

De Cunha, Rubelise. “MARTEL Yann.” Life of Pi: a novel”. Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2001.” Interfaces Brasil/Canadá 3.1 (2012): 235-242. Print.

Duncan, Rebecca. “Life of Pi as postmodern survivor narrative.” Mosaic: a journal for the interdisciplinary study of literature 41.2 (2008): 167-176. Print.

Dwyer, June. “Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and the Evolution of the Shipwreck Narrative.” Modern language studies 1.1 (2005): 9-21. Print.

Fiamengo, Anne. Other selves: animals in the Canadian literary imagination. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2007. Print.

Georgis, Dina. “Hearing the better story: Learning and the aesthetics of loss and expulsion.” The review of education, pedagogy, and cultural studies 28.2 (2006): 165-178. Print.

Ketterer, David. “Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and Poe’s Pym (and “Berenice”).” Poe Studies 42.1 (2009): 80-86. Web.

Lapsley, Daniel, and Paul Stey. “Id, Ego, and Superego.” Encyclopaedia of Human Behaviour (2011): 1-9. Print.

Ludwig, Kathryn. “Post secularism and a Prophetic Sensibility.” Christianity and Literature 58.2 (2009): 226. Print.

Martel, Yann. How I Wrote Life of Pi, 2007. Web.

Martel, Yann. Life of Pi. Wales: Random House Incorporated, 2007. Web.

Mensch, James. The Intertwining of Incommensurables. Phenomenology and the Non-Human Animal. Netherlands: Springer, 2007. Print.

Nilsen, Don. “Onomastic Play and Suspension of Disbelief in Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.” Onoma 40.1 (2005): 115-124. Print.

Spall, Rafe, and Yann Martel. Life of Pi. Netherlands: Springer, 2013. Print.

Stephens, Gregory. “Feeding Tiger, Finding God: Science, Religion, and” the Better Story” in Life of Pi.” Intertexts 14.1 (2010): 41-59. Print.

Stratton, Florence. Hollow at the core”: Deconstructing Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, 2004. Web.

Thomas, Bindu. “Territory and Power: Towards A Biocentric Reading of Yann Martel’s Life of Pi: A Novel.” Essays in Ecocriticism 1.1 (2007): 182-186. Print.

Thorn, Michael. “Cannibalism, Communion, and Multifaith Sacrifice in the Novel and Film Life of Pi.” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 27.1 (2015): 1-15. Print.

Tsai, Jen-chieh. “On the Migration of Pi: Toward a Rhetoric of Identification. “Canadian Review of Comparative Literature/Revue Canadienne de Littérature Comparée 42.1 (2015): 94-106. Print.

Wolf, Werner. “Migration towards a rewarding goal and multiculturalism with a positive centre: Yann Martel’s Life of Pi as a post-postmodernist attempt at eliciting (poetic) faith.” Canada in the Sign of Migration and TransCulturalism 1.1 (2004): 107-124. Print.

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The Life of Pi Story

May 8, 2020 by Essay Writer

“The Life of Pi” is an enthralling tale of a young boy and his troubles at sea. It’s about his fight for survival with a Bengal tiger. The boy also struggles with his religion and identity. Readers can take the messages presented to them in the story and apply them to everyday lives. They will fall in love with its colorful cast of characters and its deviation from usual story plots.

Since the author, Yann Martell, has been through many life-changing experiences during his life, it’s fitting to say that “The Life of Pi” is also life-changing in its quality and style.

Yann Martell was born on June 25, 1963 in Spain. He was born to Emile and Nicole, who were in Spain at the time when Yann was born due to his father’s pursuit of a doctorate degree. Martell did not spend a lot of time in his birthplace, as his parents soon joined the foreign service. He grew up in France, Costa Rica, and Mexico, before settling in Canada to go to college. These places where he grew up would have most likely influenced the setting of his literary works. In 1987, Martell graduated from Ontario’s Trent Univeristy with a degree in philosophy, which could have also influenced Martell’s style and the meanings of his books. From there, Martell worked as a tree planter, dishwasher, security guard, and many other jobs before becoming a writer at the age of twenty-seven. Even though he lived Canada, Martell still traveled, visiting many exotic places around the world. Such places include Turkey, Iran, and India, where Martell gained many of the ideas for his future works, which would later capture the hearts of many people around the world.

During his travels, Martell wrote his first book, called “The Facts behind the Helsinki Roccamatios” in 1993. It was actually a collection of short stories that dealt with themes such as grief and death. Many of these themes would reoccur in the Life of Pi, published about eight years later. Three years after the publication of “The Facts behind the Helsinki Roccamatios”, Martell published “Self”. “Self” was a cleverly crafted story of a young boy struggling with his sexuality and identity. According to Jeffrey Hunter, “The novel works as a study on subjectivity and identity, and Martel has been praised for his investigation of gender roles and the subjective nature of self” (Hunter, 2012). Five years later, Martell published his most well-known book, “The Life of Pi” in 2001. The book was so good that it was met with widespread acclaim from all across the globe. According to Hunter, “ The critically acclaimed novel has been compared to the work of Jospeh Conrad and Salman Rushdie” (Hunter, 2012). He received the Booker Prize for his outstanding literary work. On top of that, he was asked to teach at a university in Berlin, Germany.

“ The Life of Pi” manages to break the mold of many stories that have preceded it. It manages to stray significantly from cliché or regular adventure stories. The author of this amazing book, Yann Martel, blends together vivid feelings, colorful imagery, and inspiring messages into one uplifting journey. This creates an inspiring tale for many generations.

Characters are deeply flawed and relatable, rather than perfect, flawless characters. The characters display raw, unfiltered, and pure emotions that have a very large influence on the reader. For example, in the story, sixteen year-old Pi Patel seems like another perfect character on the outside. He is smart, does very well in school, runs a zoo with his family, and is a deeply religious individual. However, Pi’s character flaws lie within his religious identity. He believes in three different religions. He has many flashbacks regarding his faith, such as being in a religious house or remembering previous journeys around the world that pertained to his faith. These conflicts always haunt him and he is forced to deal with them every day. On top of that, Pi has an avalanche of work to do every single day. Such things include running the zoo his parents own and keeping up with his work in school. This makes his problems about faith even more overwhelming. Being overwhelmed is something that many people experience daily, so this makes Pi’s situation more relatable to readers of all ages. However, Pi always makes the best out of every situation he faces, no matter how difficult it is. That is a lesson that everyone should live by.

As the story continues on, Pi and his family must move to Canada. They pack their animals onto a boat called the Tsimtsum. However, the boat sinks killing everyone except Pi and a few animals including a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena, and a tiger known as Richard Parker. Richard Parker eats all the animals except for Pi, who must fight for survival at sea. In order to stay alive, Pi creates his own section of the lifeboat that they are riding in. He must catch fish for food and depends on the rain for water. This struggle shows how fortunate many people around the world are to have lots of food and water and a roof above their heads. We take these things for granted and do not think about thousands of other people around the world who are suffering from lack of food, water, and shelter.

The settings in the story are also key elements that bring the novel to life. The settings are so vividly described and seem so real that readers feel like they are actually in the story. Pi’s fight for survival at sea lasts for months, but during that time he also visits a beautiful island along the way, full of otherworldly life. He encounters lush, glowing vegetation and colonies of meerkats that span farther than the naked eye can see. However, after the sun sets, the island reveals its carnivorous true nature to Pi and Richard Parker, forcing them to retreat to the sea. The island shows how deadly nature can be at its worst times and how it can surprise you at any second. According to Pi, “ I preferred to set off and perish in search of my own kind than to live a lonely half-life of physical comfort and spiritual death on this murderous island” (Martell, 2001, p. 283).

Many more months pass until Pi and Richard Parker arrive in Mexico. Richard Parker then wanders into the jungle, leaving Pi to fend for himself. Pi is then interviewed about what happened in his ordeal at sea. When his interviewers did not believe the real story, he replaced the animals in the lifeboat with humans, asking which story they preferred, which then concludes the novel. Pi tells the reporters, “ You can’t prove which story is true and which is not. You must take my word for it” (Martell, 2001, p. 317). The skepticism of the interviewers highlights the last message the story has to offer, which is pertaining how humans trust one another.

While most of the book is of extraordinary quality, there are some parts of the book that are not worthy of praise. For example, part one of the story was slow and lacked the thought and emotion of the latter parts. Of course, this part was necessary because it set up the characters, setting, and other important elements of the story. Nevertheless, the boring part did not change the outlook of the story as a whole. It was still an enjoyable book to read.

In conclusion, Yan Martel’s “ The Life of Pi” is a heartfelt, inspiring, and entertaining tale that is sure to entertain readers of all ages. There are many things that made this story a success, but the most important was its characters and setting. Without these driving forces of the plot, there would be no story to begin with. Nevertheless, Yan Martell poured his heart and soul into writing “ The Life of Pi.” His passion and dedication to his work truly shine through when you read it.

Works Cited:

Langer, Adam. “”The new paper tiger: Yann Martel. (Ten Who Made It Big in 2002).”” Book, Jan.-Feb. 2003, p. 37. Literature Resource Center, Accessed 27 Nov. 2018.

“”Life of Pi.”” Novels for Students, edited by Ira Mark Milne, vol. 27, Gale, 2008, pp. 129-155. Gale Virtual Reference Library, Accessed 28 Nov. 2018.

Stephens, Gregory. “”Feeding tiger, finding God: science, religion, and ‘the better story’ in Life of Pi.”” Intertexts, vol. 14, no. 1, 2010, p. 41+. Literature Resource Center, Accessed 28 Nov. 2018.

“”Yann Martel.”” Contemporary Literary Criticism, edited by Jeffrey W. Hunter, vol. 315, Gale, 2012. Literature Resource Center, Accessed 27 Nov. 2018. 

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"Life of Pi" by Yann Martel

May 8, 2020 by Essay Writer

In Life Of Pi author Yann Martel describes characters who use hope and resourcefulness in a stranded ocean trying to survive.

The story centers with characters Pi, and a tiger Richard Parker, who all have hope, even though they’re stranded in a ocean after their ship sunk. When Pi saw that his ship was snapped and beginning to sink all he could do was hang on a oar. In front of him was an adult tiger and sharks beneath him, and a storm raging about him. Pi noticed that Richard Parker was out of sight so he stills hangs on a oar with sharks prowled but they didn’t lounge at him the waves splashed on him but did not pull him off. He looks for his family, a lifeboat, and other survivors anything that could give him hope but he found nothing.

Only rain, marauding waves of black ocean and the flotsam of tragedy. Pi was starting to feel pain in neck, back, and head but he needed to see if there were any other lifeboats. Pi uses everything he can to survive the storm. He founds out that Richard Parker is dead so he said God preserve me! Pi said the only thing that could calm him down was Richard Parker he looks around the horizon for a perfect circus ring for Richard Parker to hide in but he found nothing. Pi finds water and other supplies that he needed to survive and he drunk and drunk until his panic ws gone, hiLife in an extreme environment requires a sense of hope and the intelligence to use all available resources. In the story Life Of Pi,s fear was dominated. Survival was at hand. It came to be: Plan Number Seven: Keep Him Alive.

The author effectively conveys the challenge of this extreme environment through details of the characters’ reactions. Pi and Richard Parker’s hope and resourcefulness will help them survive. Hope and resourcefulness are powerful tools to survive any challenge that life brings you even if it’s hard to accomplish work hard to survive it.

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The Theme of Survival in Life of Pi

May 8, 2020 by Essay Writer

Life of Pi is a novel by Yann Martel that illustrates man’s will to survive and an unlikely alliance that rises as a result. This is a story that plunges deep into every aspect of human nature, giving the reader an experience that is hard to forget. I recommend this book for those who need a new adventure in their life, as the mesmerizing words, phrases, and heart-stopping moments woven within the pages of this story are a blessing to the mind and soul.

The story opens on the colorful life of Piscine Patel, an Indian boy whose family owns a popular zoo. Although his family business already gives him a remarkable title to bear, Piscine is quite the character all on his own. For instance, at only age fourteen, he practices Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam, melding the three religions together by finding what connects them all to each other. He is as equally faithful to one practice as he is to another.

Although this is frowned upon, Piscine is content with his faith and his life, with one exception: his name. It is often misheard, said incorrectly, or made fun of. When Piscine begins attending a new school, he introduces himself as “Pi”, and that is how he is known or the rest of the story. Over time, Pi’s parents grow unhappy with the Indian government. They wish to find freedom and a new life, and so they make plans for their many species of animals and set out on a ship to Canada, taking the creatures with them. But on the third night, Pi is awoken by a sound that is alien to him. Searching for an answer, he makes his way up to the main deck, where a state of pandemonium occurs. The ship’s crew are all hustling and bustling about. When Pi finally has a chance to recollect himself, he asks a few crew members what is going on, only to have a life jacket thrust into his hands and be thrown overboard, landing on one of very few lifeboats. There are no other human survivors. Pi’s family is lost. Pi is now trapped on a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific, along with one hyena, one zebra, one orangutan, and one bengal tiger, who is called Richard Parker. Before Richard Parker, who has been hiding under the lifeboat’s tarpaulin, even shows himself, the hyena soon has both the zebra and the orangutan dead within several days.

Pi leads himself to believe that it is only himself and the hyena left aboard, until Richard Parker brings the creature’s life to a sudden and violent end. Terrified, Pi constructs a raft out of supplies found on the lifeboat, and attaches it to the end of the boat, putting as much distance between himself and Richard Parker as possible. For a while, Pi accepts the inevitable probability of his imminent death. And then he discovers something within himself; a fighting warrior who drives him to face his fear, and place his life back into his own hands. From then on, he decides to become dominant over Richard Parker, realizing he has nothing to lose. He works every day to show that he is superior, while also using some of his resources to keep Richard Parker alive. Soon, his fear is vanquished, and he and Richard Parker seem to be living in a civil manner, a relationship that, although rocky, depends on mutual trust.

They grow not only to tolerate each other, but to need each other as well. Remarkably, Richard Parker becomes the only thing keeping Pi’s sanity in check. Things are going well, until they find land. Their relationship, or alliance, or whatever it might be called, was unfortunately at an end. Pi was quickly rescued from the island, whereas Richard Parker, his only companion for months, stayed behind to begin a new life in the vast jungles of the island they had discovered. Confused, half out of his mind, and heartbroken, Pi watches with weary eyes as his last friend, the last connection to his past life, grows farther and farther away. For the rest of his life, he is forever grateful for this unexpected friend, who turned out to be the only thing keeping him alive through the tragic accident. Even as an old man with a family, he knows with every fiber of his being that Richard Parker is the reason he is still standing there today. Life of Pi may be fiction, but its effects on the human spirit are very real and very beneficial. If you love to read, and even if you don’t, this story is one that will keep you intrigued and intellectually stimulated. Yann Martel has created a masterpiece that will remain timeless forever.

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Film "Life of Pi" by Ang Lee

May 8, 2020 by Essay Writer

Life of Pi The film, Life of Pi is directed by Ang Lee, but the script was written by David Magee. Ang won Oscar for the best film life of Pi in 2012. The movie is about a boy named Pi.

He and his family were on a boat that canted in a storm. The waves were so big that the boat sank. In the boat there was also many animals from the zoo that Pi’s family owned. Pi survived and got into a lifeboat. In the boat there is a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a Bengalitiger called Richard Parker. They are stranded in the Pacific Ocean for 227 days. During the trip only, Pi and the tiger survived. The other animals were eaten. No people tend to live with a tiger for 227 days. According to the true world, no people had overthrown it. No people had managed to live with a tiger in the way Pi did. If it had been in the true world, the tiger had killed Pi.Religion to PiIn the time Pi is stranded in the Pacific Ocean he makes reflections about his life, and he also take a spiritual journey. Pi has always believed in Hinduism since he was little, but when he became older he wanted to explorer new religions. Religion has been a part of his life, but what he remembers best is when he was in a Hindu temple. From the temple he remembers the coolers, smells and sounds.

The father of Pi introduced him to Martin, a Catholic priest who showed him that to be a Christian is based on love and faith in God.Pi wanted to explore and learn more about religions, so he studies servals religions. What he learned was that there were many ways to God and that in every religion there is love. Pi has respect for all religions and he does not combine them.The difference between the animal story and the human storyPi tells two stories at the start of the movie, one that is a human story and the animal story. He begins to tell the animal story. He was on a boat with all the animals from the father’s zoo. When the ship crashed, he had to flee in the lifeboat where he ended up with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a Bengali tiger. The only one who survived the journey was the tiger and pi. Pi tells in the human story when he lived with his mother, the ship’s cook and a injured Japanese sailor. In the human story, the mother was an orangutan, the sailor was a zebra, the hyena was the chef and the tiger were Pi.Pi was called ?«pissing?»When Pi went to St. Joseph’s School, he was bullied, and his nickname was pissing.

Pi tried also to skull the school because he was not well there. One day Pi would show what the number pi was. He got up on the board without the teachers permission and he did not care to start calculating it. The number pi is 3,14Pi did not have any good childhood as he had no support from parents or anyone else. He went to school but was bullied. Pi was a boy who liked to investigate and learn about new things. His experience maybe was the reason he could survive alone on the ocean without food and with wild animals. He was also very interested in religions and how they worked, he was very spiritual. That was also a reason that he manages to survive.


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Life of Pi: Ontology, Epistemology and Axiology

May 8, 2020 by Essay Writer

The movie Life of Pi shows what Hindu’s think of other deities not within their pantheon, while also showing samsara, and the three components of a worldview; ontology, epistemology, and axiology.

In the movie Life of Pi directed by Ang Lee, Piscine Molitor Pi Patel is confronted with multiple different religions. He was born a Hindu. Later, he accepted Jesus, and finally, he added Allah to his collection. Pi did not believe in just one of these religions but he believed in all of them. His belief seems to be misconstrued, instead of converting to a new faith, Pi added these other deities to his 330 million gods. Pi was enticed to Jesus after hearing his story. Pi heard many stories from Hinduism about gods that were strong and powerful like Vishnu or Ganesha but the story of Jesus is simple and kind. This kindness of the priest leads Pi to ask many questions about Jesus, ultimately leading Pi to the faith.

The only problem is that Pi added Jesus to his already massive list of deities to worship. This belief is directly against the Bible as stated in 1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ. Now if Pi had been taught this from the priest, he might have fully converted to the faith. Instead, Piscine continued to live in his Hindu tradition and his Islamic worship while also praying to Jesus. Pi’s actions reflect the beliefs of the author, Yann Martel, who wrote Life of Pi. Martel once said, If there is only one nation in the sky shouldn’t all passports be valid. This statement is controversial and does not work within most religious standards but this is the lifestyle that Pi chooses for himself within the novel.

The meerkat island scene from the movie symbolizes different parts of the Hindu religion. When the day ends and the night begins the island consumes what is left in the pool. Creation and destruction are represented on the island with the meerkats and the carnivorous pool just as Brahma and Vishnu create and preserve life. Shiva also destroys it. The island also represents Samsara because the island is a cycle of death, life, and rebirth. The island kills the meerkats. The island supports the meerkats’ life on the island. The meerkats are constantly being born and killed on the island. The tooth on the island also represents samsara and the struggle to break it. When Pi leaves the island and finds the beach in Mexico. Pi becomes enlightened and breaks samsara to achieve moksha or becoming one with the universe in his own way, which means going back into the world to live his life.

The three components of a worldview are evident throughout the movie. A big point at the end of the movie is Pi’s two stories he told the interviewers. His stories have the same essence but they have two different forms. His first story that consists of unlikely events and places has two survivors, Richard Parker and Pi. In the second story, Pi is the only survivor but he tells the story as though he was Richard Parker, the tiger. Piscine tells the stories asking his interviewer which one he believes. The reporter answers with the first one. This shows what the interviewer values, he does not value the more believable story but rather the strange story about a boy surviving with a tiger on a dingy. Piscine’s values change through the movie, first, he focused on religion and highly valued it. Later, when on the boat his greatest value was his survival because he neglected to pray while on the ocean. Finally when he came ashore, Pi cared about his family and once again his religion.

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