‘Life of Pi is a novel which blurs the line between human and animal.’ In the light of this statement, explore the function of the animals in the novel. In your answer, you must consider relevant contextual factors.
Plan - physiological inner instinct - complexity of human nature*
2- sense of companion and fear*
Yann Martel blurs the line between animals and humans in order to challenge the reader’s perception of reality. Yann Martel uses the medium of a myriad of different animals on the boat and the zoo to illuminate how they helped to shape Pi’s character. They also symbolise the different aspects of human traits and personality.*
Life of Pi explores how Richard Parker is just a manifestation of Pi’s inner psyche in order to illuminate the animalistic tendencies that humans possess. When Pi attempts to tame Richard Parker by using aversion therapy “START BLOWING YOUR WHISTLE AT FULL BLAST” , he is really just trying to control himself. The capitalisation of the words is significant because not only does it highlight the significance of the message but also to convey how Pi is losing touch with humanity as he has been away from civilization for 227 days. The number is significant because 22/7 is pi which in mathematics is a simple symbol that symbolises* infinity as the number doesn’t end. This alludes to how Pi in the book is just using a* simple symbol of the tiger to show the infinite depth of human savagery that exists in humanity. Therefore, Martel employs the image of boundaries throughout the play, not only with external objects but also within oneself. In addition, this is further reinforced in the second part of the story that he explained himself to the Japanese investigators, when he was the tiger “he brought the evil in me”.* The use of the adjective “evil” is typically associated with the image of the devil. This alludes to the Christen belief that the devil is secretly lurking everywhere. In addition, the intertextual reference to “Richard Parker” is also significant as it has been associated with cannibalism in Edgar Allan Po.Alternatively, it could suggest that humans are willing to transcend their boundaries in order to survive. The two stories present Pi as an unreliable narrator which is a* feature of postmodernism in order to allow the readers to choose which story resonates the most with them and how they view the word. From a psychoanalytical lens the tiger could just be a mere representation of Pi’s id that isn’t being controlled by the superego and external forces of society.* Therefore, Yann Martel uses the tiger as a symbol to illuminate Pi’s animalistic instincts.
In addition, Yann Martel explores the religious importance of animals.The zoo could be seen as an inverted image of the garden of Eden. This is because like Adam, Pi was surrounded by a myriad of different animals and had close touch with the divinity of god. Ergo, the “tiger” in the first part of the story could symbolise the forbidden fruit in the book of geniuses “tigers are very dangerous. I want you to understand that you are never – under any circumstance – to touch a tiger, to pet a tiger”.* Pi’s father has an assertive tone* through the use of the imperative “must” in order to reinforce the gravity of his message. This is reinforced through the* repetition of the “tiger” used to warn Pi about its dangers. The religious aspect of animals can be explored through the colour of the tiger as orange which holds significance in the Hindu religion as it represents safety and security. In addition, his journey to Canada with the animals could be emblematic of a religious pilgrimage in Noah’s arch, as he was also under the impression that he would live a better life after the flood. This is similar to Pi’s situation as* there was an emergency crisis in India as the prime minister was corrupt and hoped for a better life on the other side of the world through the use of the short exclamatory sentence “Canada here I come!”The extensive use of Christen imagery throughout the book alludes to Yann Martel’s Christen upbringing and how that influenced the development of the story.*
In addition, Yann Martel explores how animals could be symbolic of different characteristics that humans possess. For example, the zebra could be seen as the symbol for resilience “the zebra shook its head and barked and snorted”.* The fact that it still “shook its head” illuminates the zebra’s desire for life and survival, despite being attacked by a hyena. In addition, the grammatically incorrect sentence is intentional in order to reflect how overwhelmed Pi was feeling as he is retelling the story to the author. The zebra could reflect Pi’s willingness to survive , which reflects the core of externalism. Alternatively, it could allude to the fragility of human life and Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory as those that are weak are the most vulnerable. In addition, the orangutan that he named “Orange Juice '' is emblematic of the caring nature of humanity. The orangutan animal is symbolic of the warmth that he experiences from his mother, as they are a very peaceful and calm animal.*
In conclusion, Life of Pi blurs the line between humanity and animals in order to explore the psychology behind human behaviours. Yann Martel explores the different roles that animals play in the story which acts as a microcosm to the different roles that humans play in society.*
*‘Pi’s life in the novel is in many ways totally disrupted, but nevertheless he maintains belief in himself.’ In the light of this statement, explore the presentation of Pi’s sense of self-belief in the novel. In your answer, you must consider relevant contextual factors
*Yann Martel explores how Pi’s inner belief has allowed him to survive his ordeal. His faith in a higher power has given him confidence in the absurdities of his ordeal as his journey can be seen as a religious pilgrimage for a better life and to strengthen his relationship with god.
Yann Martel explores Pi’s belief through his idiosyncratic approach to religion. Pi explains to the interviewer that religion brought to him “intellect confounded yet a trusting* sense of presence and an ultimate purpose”. This demonstrates how Yann Martel was inspired by the postmodern narrative of the metafictional nature of storytelling, as it isn’t a linear narrative. The use of the noun “purpose” conveys how religion has provided Pi wil emotional and spiritual guidance throughout his life even as he aged. This is further reinforced through the use of the adjective “intellectual”which * reveals how science and religion can be complementary instead of being binary opposites which challenges the reader’s modern outlook on science, and reveals how deep his faith is. This is further reinforced as Martel intentionally makes two Mr Kummars that both believe in different things. However, the fact that Pi is able to respect them equally illuminates his belief in both science and religion.In addition, Yann Martel explores his inner belief in his journey to find god, as he practis[es] Hindu, Christian and Muslim”. Ergo, Pi could be viewed as a symbolism for India as it was a diverse country with multiple different religions that continued to grow.* In addition, it is structurally significant that he states the religions in this order as it reflects the chronological order he was exposed to the religions. A postmodern reader may react to this positively as Pi is being tolerant and showing his appreciation to three religions. However, some traditional readers may disapprove of his unorthodox decision as it contradicts their internal self belief.*
Yann Martel* conveys how Pi’s inner belief within himself has allowed him to survive his ordeal. In Chapter 53, Pi uses minor sentences “I will not die. I refuse it." The short sentences could reflect Pi’s mental state at the time as he couldn’t fully formulate sentences. In addition, the use of the modal verb will reflect how Pi aims to confront the absurdity of his situation which reflects the core of extensionalism.* Alternatively, the use of fragmented sentences could be viewed as positive affirmations, as he is trying to manifest his dream of escaping India and arriving in Canada. This is because in India the country was in a state of emergency due to the corruption of the government which meant that many people had to flee the country in order to enjoy a better standard of living. Furthermore, Pi explores how he relies on god when he is in times of distress “My heart stopped and then beat triple speed. I turned/ Jesus, Mary, Muhammad and Vishnu!”. Yann Martel uses corporeal imagery “heart” to illuminate how fear has consumed him internally which is highlighted though his sense of panic “beat triple speed”. Ergo, it is significant that Pi maintains his belief in god even in difficult times, as typically in times of crises people usually go back to the teaching of god as they are desperate for help. The names of different religious prophets/gods not only highlights his faith in all three, but also how they all serve a specific purpose in his life. This is because whilst Vishnu is the good of preservation as he is responsible for maintaining order, Mary and Jesus symbolise love that Pi needs. In addition, according to the Quran Mohommad is a prophet sent to spread God's message. All of these are* characteristics that Pi is desperate for as he is trying to find hope in the darkest situations.**
In addition, Pi’s journey can be seen as a pilgrimage to strengthen his self belief in god. The zoo could be seen as an inverted image of the Garden of Eden from the book of genesis and Adam was surrounded by animals and had a close connection to the divine power, just like how Pi ls experiencing god in three different religions.* Ergo, the sinking of the boat could reflect the fall of mankind, as Pi is experiencing “one terror at a time”. In addition, the name of the ship* '`Tsimtsum”* has a significant importance in the Jewish belief. This is because it symbolises how god removed his light to give humans some freedom, which reflects how Pi’s inner self belief is being tested. However, Pi is able to overcome these obstacles and arrive in Canada after 227 days. The number of 227 is significant because 22/7 is pi which in mathematics is a simple sign to represent an infinite set of numbers.This mirrors how Pi in the first story uses the simple symbol of god to reveal his* infinite* power and how that aided with his belief.*
In addition, Yann Martel demonstrates how Pi’s belief and confidence has allowed him to survive his journey by taming Richard Parker. Pi uses aversion therapy to try and tame Richard Parker by using “WHISTLE AT FULL BLAST” to instil fear by making Richard Parker sea sick. The capitalisation of the words is significant because not only does it highlight the significance of the message but also to convey how Pi is losing touch with humanity as he has been away from civilization. Therefore, Yann Martel explores how Pi’s unwavering self confidence has allowed him to survive his journey with a dangerous bengal tiger.
In conclusion, Yann Martel explores how Pi’s inner self belief stemmed from his faith in god as it gave him hope as he believed his plan was set. Yann Martel challenges the constructed narrative on religion through the character of Pi to reflect the modern acceptance towards different religions globally.