“Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it. This statement by Charles R. Swindoll, perfectly encapsulates how vulnerable and powerless human beings are in life, but qualifies this idea by adding that a person does in fact have a choice in the way he or she reacts.
In Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, Piscine ‘Pi’ Patel, a young boy from India, sets sail for Canada with his family and many species of animals destined for a zoo. In a terrible storm Pi loses his whole family in a shipwreck. Alone, Pi falls into a lifeboat finding some animals including a Bengal Tiger.
For 7 months Pi learns life saving skills in order to survive, his situation that he was put in only mattered a little but what mattered most was how he chose to react to it. The human desire to live and fight for life helps Pi overcome fears and propels him into becoming a courageous and skillful person. Although, life is extraordinarily lonely, difficult, and at times meaningless for Pi, he perseveres and cultivates his mental, and spiritual well-being ultimately changing his personality from the naive boy he was at the beginning of the book. Pi Patel faces difficulty and discomfort while on the boat but as time passes his mental state of mind undergoes a change and he is altered into this new man. The first few days that Pi was on the boat he just sat still and waited to be saved. As time passed and no one showed up Pi figured out that just waiting to be saved was him waiting to die.
This mindset helped Pi change the way he was acting and started figuring out strategies to stay alive. Pi says to himself “I have to stop hoping so much that a ship would rescue me. I should not count on outside help. Survival had to start with me” (2.58.9).
Therefore, after being incompetent he starts to explore the boat. This leads him to the locker filled to the brim with food, water, and many more survival necessities. Finding this treasure motivates him to try and save himself. Since Pi realized that he was not going to be saved he mentally got into the lifesaver mode and persevered.
Being an orphan with no siblings a person loses all will to live. Especially when you surrounded by hungry animals. Pi ” was pinned by weakness to the traupulin. Even thinking was exhausting” (134). Getting up was inconceivable and trying to help himself was unimaginable.
Pi explains that he lost all hope but as a result “perked up and felt much better” (134). When a person is so far down there is no where to go but up. Pi was no longer afraid he was in a better mental state. Pi’s teaches Richard Parker (the tiger) that he is boss and he makes the rules. Since Pi’s family owned a zoo he knew the rules on how to train an animal so he got a whistle and blew it every time Richard Parker went into his territory and dropped the anchor to make him seasick. He also always made eye contact showing that he was not scared to look straight into the eyes of the enemy. Mentally, he was not afraid of a carnivorous beast. Being abandoned on a boat helped him understand that there is no reason to allow fear to dominate the way he lives.
He was cultivated into this courageous human and acts as if he owns the place. Pi sustains a mental change as well as a spiritual change. Throughout his whole life he always wanted to learn about different religions and practice in each of them. His parents “didn’t know that he was a practising Hindu, Christian, and Muslim.” While he was on the boat Pi needed to kill a fish in order to use it as bait to kill more to eat.
Pi indicates that by killing this fish he is murdering gods creatures. When he completes the act he connects it to Cain the a religious person in religion who commits the first murder ever. Although Cain cold heartedly killed his brother out of jealousy Pi describes himself of being similar to him for killing a fishes life to stay alive. This event is showing development in Pi’s spirituality that is unwanted.
But even though he feels as though he is becoming a sinner and that he is put on a boat hardly surviving his dedication to god does not lessen. Pi “practised religious rituals that adapted to the circumstances”. Through the course of Pi’s journey his love of god strengthens and he develops spiritually in the face of desperation.