Life of Pi by Yann Martel Analysis
Life of Pi, written by Yann Martel, tells a journey of a young man. In the beginning of the book, Pi displays a great devotion to religion. However, throughout the story when his faith is challenged and questioned, he finds another purpose to live which is to survive for himself. Although, the strengthening of his faith leads to doubts about the truth. Robert Brault once said, “without faith, there is no truth, for that is all the truth is or ever was.”
A search of identity drives Pi to achieve that goal through studying 3 religions - hoping to find his own truth about himself. In the beginning of the book, Pi displays an analogy of the animals living in the Pondicherry Zoo (owned by his family) and his freedom of religion. In our world, the people obey a system made by the society which explains how Pi struggles to find that stability as to what he believes in. “I know zoos are no longer in people’s good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both.” (part I, 19). Pi believes that animals from the zoo do not differ from animals in the wild - both require the animals to follow rules and a system in order to survive. Therefore, Pi sees no boundaries between animal freedom and religious inclination because he believes that a person who believes in a religion is like an animal in a zoo; although the zoo animals are as free as the wild animals, they still do not have freedom to live the way they want. Just like a person trapped in a system and not having the choice of any religion they wish. Hence, Pi continues to emphasise the idea that without faith, they are living a life of “ dry, yeastless factuality or in other words, doubtful and unpleasant life. “ I can well imagine an atheist’s last words… and the death leap of faith. Whereas the agnostic, if he stays true to his reasonable sled, if he stays beholden to dry, yeastless factuality, might try to explain the warm light bathing him saying, “possibly a f-f-failing oxygenation of the b-b-bath,” and, to the very end, lack imagination and miss the better story.” (part I, 64). No faith means no excitement or purpose in life.
Pi’s devotion to religion and faith faces a challenge that questions how far into the journey can his faith lead him. In part II of the book, it focuses on major adjustments Pi had to learn in order to survive. Being a castaway and floating in the middle of nowhere, Pi learned to ration the emergency items and food provided in the boat and when he ran out, he learned to hunt and gather. From having to survive for himself and keeping his faith, he soon realises that the only thing keeping him alive (mentally and emotionally) is Richard Parker, the Tiger on the boat, also known as, the most dangerous animal in the zoo. It may appear it was a selfless act of kindness by keeping Richard Parkers alive, however it was more of a selfish act- Pi only saw Richard Parkers as something to keep him busy in the midst of a floating journey, in the middle of the ocean. Not only that, he holds on to hope of survival through god’s guidance. “After a thorough investigation, I made a complete list:
192 tablets of anti-seasickness medicine
124 tin cans of fresh water, each containing 500 milliliters, so 62 liters in all….
1 boy with a complete set of light clothing but for one lost shoe…
1 God” (part II, 145-146)
Pi successfully recalls the journey as a task leading to the strength of his faith. No matter what obstacles are thrown at him, the book depicts his reaffirmation with faith.“ High calls low and low calls high. I tell you, if you were in such dire straits as I was, you too would elevate your thoughts. The lower you are, the higher your mind will want to soar. It was natural that, bereft and desperate as I was, in the throes of unremitting suffering, I should turn to god. “ (part II, 283-284). In part III, Pi tells his story. “If you stumble at mere believability, what are you living for? Isn’t love hard to believe?... life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?” (part III, 297) Though it is still debatable on which story was factual and which one was made up but it is up to them if they accepted the nasty truth about the world and reality or the sugar-coated version.
His strong interest and faith drove Pi to a happy life and he continues to hold on for as long as he can. The way a person percieve life depends on their decisions on whether they choose to have faith or not. Thus, the truth depends on your faith.