“To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin tochoosing immobility as a means of transportation” (Yann Martel 1.7.
21). In YannMartel’s novel Life of Pi, Piscine Patel finds himself trapped after a terribleshipwreck on a lifeboat with a 450-pound tiger on board. Being born and raisedin India, Pi has a different mindset than the average North American whichgreatly assists him on his journey. For Pi, survival is a must, since he is thesole remaining individual of his family. Throughout the story, Pi puts all hisstrength and ingenuity in keeping himself alive, at times revealing hisunderlying character. This is expressed by losing his innocence, belief in G-Dand the struggle with Richard Parker, the tiger. On the surface Life of Pi isjust another story of a shipwreck survivor, however, the word survival cannotadequately describe Pi’s journey through the sea. In Life of Pi, Yann Marteluses indirect characterization to represent how the toughest experiences canbring out the truest identity of man.
Pi learns that survival requiressacrifice which includes physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Pi must endure through tough times while floatingon the vast ocean. Even with India’s enormous population, no one was out tokill him for food, most people didn’t even know who he was. In Pi’s household,he did not have to deal with the nourishment portion of his life. People werefed like animals in a zoo. Everyone worked together and only during reallyrough times, was there a scarce amount of food. Predictably in a novel about ashipwreck survivor, Pi now truly must find his own food and water. Ironicallybeing on a lifeboat, Pi is surrounded by water, being too salty to drink andfish, which are too swift to catch.
Pi constantly struggles to land a fish orturtle, just as he must collect water from the solar stills. Now surviving onthe open ocean, not being able to see land for miles, Pi must suffer terriblefactors and events in order to be rewarded with satisfaction. Factors such aslack of much fluids, gigantic waves, ocean storms, sharks, drowning andsunstrokes all pose a threat to his life. Being a smart man his ingenuity andimagination enable him to continue being physically safe. But the one aspect hehas never encountered before is living on a lifeboat with a frightening, hungrytiger, Richard Parker.Pi’scompanion during his journey on the lifeboat is a 450-pound Bengal tiger,Richard Parker. Distinct from many other stories in which the authors portrayanimals as humans, Yann Martel depicts Richard Parker as an actual ferocioustiger.
Captured as a baby, Parker was raised in a zoo and knows nothing elsethan life in human captivity. He is accustomed to man training and feeding him,so he isn’t as intimidated from Pi. Pi claims that Richard Parker refrains fromeating him because Parker identifies Pi as the alpha male. Growing upsurrounded by zoo creatures and educated by his father on the danger and powerthey pose, Pi is prepared with much information on animal behaviour. Still, heis no compliant house cat. Although being tamed, he still acts instinctively,swimming for the lifeboat and killing the hyena for food. There are a smallnumber of times when Richard Parker acts through impulses.
Near the conclusionof the book, he murders all the pretty little Meerkats. Pi notices RichardParker sizing him up, actively debating his next move which makes Pi moreafraid. Richard Parker even fights a live shark and these scenes are read justas a little boy watching an aggressive tiger.
“Richard Parker turned and started clawing the shark’s head with his free frontpaw and biting it with his jaws, while his rear legs began tearing at itsstomach and back. […]. Richard Parker’s snarling was simplyterrifying.” (2.79.
6) Nevertheless, Richard Parker is frightening,ironically keeping Pi company helps him remain alive. Overwhelmed by the conditions and scared of dying, Pi becomestroubled and incapable to move forward. Yet he soon understands that hisgreatest threat is Richard Parker.
Forgetting his other obstacles, Pi survivesthrough numerous tests he has done with Parker. Hefishes in the sea and feeds fish to Richard Parker to prevent being eaten afterit is only them two remaining. This accomplishment gives him self-assurance,making his other problems viewed as easier. But Pi isn’t just afraid ofRichard Parker, he also views him as spring of beauty. All through the flyingfish scene, Pi watches fish hurdle onto the lifeboat.
While ineffectivelyattempting to gather them, he gazes upon Richard Parker eating effortlessly. When the two wash up on the shore ofMexico, Pi thanks the tiger for keeping him alive. Yet, Richard Parker doesn’tdraw out his parting with Pi, he simply runs off into the jungle, never to beseen again. Pi is a clever man who is able to push himself towardsguaranteeing his continuous presence. Caring and feeding Richard Parker keepshim full of activity and passes the time.
Had Richard Parker not been onboardto challenge and divert his attention, Pi might have surrendered his life tothe ocean.While journeying out on the sea tested Pi’s physical well-being, hismental and spiritual state of mind were the most confronted. Pi experiences thetoughest challenges a human mind can endure, ultimately losing his weak andfrail personalities.
His pen and journal kept his genuine mind sane andhealthy, while a belief in something greater lead the ambition for hissurvival. Originally Piscine Patel grew up in a family of calm and collectivepeople, he finds himself beginning to lose his innocence when he is forced to commitdeeds of great gruesomeness. It begins when he is needed to kill the fish, “Iheard a cracking sound and I no longer felt any life fighting in my hands…Theflying fish was dead.” (Martel 203). Not eating meat until this period in hislife displays Pi’s loss of innocence since he is constrained into no longerfollowing his vegetarian views. When a person alters a main philosophy of hislife, it affects a person on a level that is unclear for the human eye. Near theend of the book Pi decides to tell the Japanese transport officials two stories,one true and one made up.
In the first one he had told of him fighting with ahyena that he eventually had to kill. The second story is far more interestingin that Martel depicts the hyena as the French cook who he was forced to kill sincehe had killed Pi’s mother. In this made up tale Pi is faced with a decision thathe cannot turn his back to, the cook killed his mother, he threw away all hisbeliefs and murdered the man. Even though he killed out of self-defence innocenceis entirely gone.