Life of Pi EssayLife of Pi is a novel written by Yann Martel andpublished in the year 2001 by Vintage Canada. Martel’s inspiration was revealedin a 2002 interview with PBS, Martel said “I was sort of looking for a story –something that would direct my life.” He began to discuss how he waslonely and through religion, he discovered a new direction in his life whichlead him write Life of Pi. In Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, themain character Piscine Patel, known to all as Pi, is an Indian boy who has beenstranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for 277 days. Pi’s mentality isbeginning to change but through his religion is he able to remain sane.”Religion will save us”,Pi, who is narrating the story, goes on to say that religion had always beenclose to his heart.
In Life of Pi, through adverse situations, one’s religionis the most significant factor which helps them survive. Pi uses the teachings ofIslam, Hinduism and Christianity to help him through his journey by helping himremain sane, possess hope and depict Richard Parker as a god – like figure. In the novel, there were several moments of thestory where Pi had encountered traumatic and horrifying events which could havelead to a loss of individual’s sanity and hope.
In the novel, Pi used his religiousbeliefs and his faith to keep him distracted. Pi uses his teachings to allowhim to fight insanity and hold the truth which he believes. “I practicedreligious rituals that I adapted to the circumstances – solitary masses withoutpriests… They brought me comfort, that is certain. But it was hard, oh it washard.” (Martel 231). This quote explains how his rituals and teachings have helpedhim adapt to the circumstances and allowed him to remain sane through thehardest of times. His religious beliefs are allowing him to have non-erratic behaviorand remain sane at all costs. Another example is shown when Pi laid his hands-onfishes and his religious beliefs helped him remain sane throughout.
“I laidhands on so many fish that my body began to glitter from all the fish scalesthat became stuck to it. I wore these spots of shine and silver like tilaks,the marks of colour that we Hindus wear on our foreheads as symbols of thedivine” (Martel 217). This quote is expressing how Pi remained sane through hissilver like tilaks, which Hindus wear on their foreheads as a symbol of divinity.
Pi accepted the fact that fish scales were on his body and he remained sanethrough his religious beliefs. Throughout the novel, Pi was in circumstanceswhich may have led him to insanity. Through his religious encounters andbeliefs, he could cancel out everything going on in his life and was able toremain sane.Piscine Patel was lost at sea for 227 days witha Bengal tiger. Through his time, he was beginning to lose all hope, butthrough god and his religious beliefs, he could possess hope which he neededfor survival.
Belief towards religion allows individuals to obtain furtherknowledge and hope which may help them through their toughest times. In thenovel, Pi is having difficulty believing he could survive but through hisreligious beliefs, he remains hopeful and continues his journey. Religion is akey factor which drives Pi’s motive and allows him to continue going. “Iwas giving up. I would have given up— if a voice hadn’t made itself heard in myheart. The voice said, ‘I will not die. I refuse it.
I will make it throughthis nightmare. I will beat the odds, as great as they are… I will put in allthe hard work necessary. Yes, so long as God is with me, I will not die. Amen”(Martel163). This quote is expressing how Pi is beginning to give up and has lost allhope, but through god he is able to fight for survival and do anything to beathis odds. Pi has a deep connection with god and religion. This connectionallows Pi to possess all the hope which remains. ‘Jesus, Mary, Muhammad andVishnu, how good to see you.
Come to the lifeboat. Do you hear this whistle?..
.Swim, swim! You’re a strong swimmer. It’s not a hundred feet” (Martel 107).This quote is showing how all these important figures of Pi’s religion aregiving him hope and allowing him to fight for survival. All these divine figuresare giving Pi a sense of hope and belief.
There are many moments in the novelwhere Pi feels hopeless but through his religious figures and beliefs he idolizesand possess, he is able to remain hopeful.In the novel, Life of Pi, Martel uses symbolismto tie in important parts of Pi’s life. Richard Parker may be a clearrepresentation of a god or faith in the novel. Throughout the novel it wasshown that Pi had a hatred and love for the tiger. Pi mentions that “It was Richard Parker who calmed me down.
It isthe irony of this story that the one who scared me witless to start with wasthe very same who brought me peace, purpose, I dare say even wholeness.”(Martel 179) God like figures in human’s lives are meant to be both feared andloved. Pi had the same relationship with Richard Parker. He helped Pi be scaredand calm when required, which helped him survive his journey. Similarly, Pialways saw Richard Parker as someone who isn’t human, but nevertheless, Pinotices that “it was not so much the speed that was impressiveas the pure animal confidence, the total absorption in the moment. Such a mixof ease and concentration, such a being-in-the-present, would be the envy ofthe highest yogis” (Martel 201) Pi’s ability to be in awe of the non-humanqualities that Parker has, is similar to how humans are often in awe of agod-like figure.
This certainly helps show how Richard Parker is in fact, atotally distinct figure from Pi. Throughout the novel, Richard Parker was shownto be a representation of a god-like figure to Pi and helped Pi in his abilityfor survival.Religion is the belief or system which isdesignated towards behaviours and practices.
Religion is a major theme in Lifeof Pi. Pi focuses on different stories and theories from each faith. Pibelieves that belief is more important than the whole truth. It was seen howPi’s religious and spiritual attributes grow throughout the story. In thenovel, Life of Pi, through adverse situations one’s religion is the mostsignificant factor in the ability for their survival.
Pi had witnessed this ashis religions helped him remain sane, possess hope and helped him depict RichardParker as a god-like figure which in turn helped him survive his journey. Religionhelped Pi throughout the novel, which developed him as character of faith. Religionis putting faith in something outside of this world, it is an explanation ofthings we cannot understand. In his journey, without religion, it would’ve beenclose to impossible for Pi to survive as religion had brought Pi comfort andsanity through the hardest of times.