The Life of Pi
Reid, Madi, Matt, Andrew
Context of the Novel!
If You Liked These Books, Then You'll Love Life of Pi
The concept of survival is easily overlooked by many Americans today for one simple reason: it can be. Most people have the support and money to meet their needs, and do not have to worry about surviving. However, in 2002 Yaan Martel provides the readers of Life of Pi an engaging new look at survival. The novel is set in a period of turmoil for India in 1975 known as the emergency. The narrator Piscine Patel tells the story of what he encounters after the ship carrying him and his family unexpectedly sinks. Pi becomes stranded alone on a lifeboat with a Bengal Tiger, and the audience begins to learn the concept of survival through Pi’s eyes. Though brief in its storytelling, The Life of Pi by Yann Martel provides a timeless story that connects well with a worldwide audience and basic human nature.
The Life of Pi begins with an explanation from the author; he states that the book is his best attempt at recounting a tale told to him by one Francis Adirubasamy, and that the tale was one that was sure to spark faith in any listener. As the story moves on, this is found to be true. It involves a young teenage named Pi boy who, when his parents decide to escape to Canada in light of The Emergency of India in the 1970s, is left stranded on a lifeboat with numerous animals including a hungry Bengal Tiger. Pi and the tiger find mutual friendship in their survival though, and the plot of the story becomes one recounting friendship and balance between two unlikely and opposing worlds against all odds. After a lengthy journey and many trials, the two are able to overcome these odds and part ways, living proof of the possibility and existence of polar opposites in balance.
The plot of Life of Pi may seem a little ridiculous at surface level--a boy stranded on a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean with a tiger who ultimately becomes his friend carries that type of absurdity. But at the root of the novel itself are ideas that have both plagued and inspired humans for centuries.Yann Martel incorporates these primal, universal ideas of fear, friendship, and survival into his story, allowing it to apply to any and all audiences. Fear is demonstrated in Pi’s relationship with Richard Parker embodies the great fear of imminent death on top of the fear of hopelessness already present in being stranded in the ocean. However through the story Pi is able to conquer these fears, befriending Richard Parker and ultimately making it safely out of the ocean. To go on the emotional journey from deathly fear to friendship is strenuous to say the least, but furthermore proves that even two people, regardless of background or ideology or race or even species, can bloom friendship. The story shows that we all have commonalities and possess the capacity for love if we are willing to embrace it. But beyond emotional strife, the novel incorporates the most basic of human desires: to survive. The novel places Pi in a position where survival is vital, both in a physical sense, as well as an emotional one. Not only does Pi attempt to survive the vicious ocean, but keep his thoughts, emotions, and values intact too. The motifs of science and religion in the text bring a struggle in Pi for him to find his place in the world--a struggle that ultimately decided upon his experiences in the ocean.
Life of Pi is definitely a novel deserving to be read. The action starts up slow, as the exposition takes up the first third of the novel. However, Life of Pi’s enormous setup makes for an equally enormous payoff. The detail enclosed in each chapter never fails to immerse the reader. More importantly, it allows the reader to believe Pi’s story as he tells it. This sets up the parallelism between Pi’s stories and religion that resonates with the reader. At the end of the novel, details emerge to show Pi’s story may not be what actually happened. However, the fact the ship sunk and Pi survived remains the same. It becomes a question of “Which story do you prefer?” the reader has to answer themselves. Its themes resonate with the reader since they relate to the universal struggle of human life and animalistic nature. Ultimately, it presents its story in such a way that is simply captivating beyond explanation, and is what makes it such a good read.
In the end, Life of Pi is a classic story of a young teen’s journey to both understand himself and find balance in the tumultuous world he was thrown into. Every trial Pi and Richard Parker are met with pulls the reader in closer to a fantastic tale that cannot be put down.