Comment on the writers presentation of loneliness and companionship in the novels “The Old Man and the Sea” by Hemmingway and “The Life of Pi” by Martel. In the novels “Life of Pi” and “The Old Man and the Sea”, the authors present the protagonists sense of loneliness and contrasting companionship through various themes linked to survival against nature and the elements. A famous quote by Albert Einstein explores survival as, “Hunger, love, pain, fear are some of those inner forces which rule the individual’s instinct for self preservation.
As both novels are significant in that the characters are at struggle with the sea, the authors use comparative themes linked to nautical survival to emphasize a characters determination and will to overcome their personal loneliness in their challenge for survival, with similar emotions linked to the quotation echoed through the texts. The novels are structured differently in contrast to their similar subject matter of survival, with both authors adopting different literary presentations to express their own individual views of the protagonists challenge.
“The Life of Pi” is presented to the reader in varied length chapters, with some chapters only containing several lines compared to longer length chapters which conveys the story as a survival guide, randomly structured to explore Pi’s frustration at sea. The reader identifies the presentation as a form of diary which Pi has used to express his emotions of his isolation, which through first person narrative explores this on a personal level. In contrast Hemmingway in “The Old Man and the Sea” presents the novella with no clear structure of chapters, which creates a flowing survival record for the old man.
The reader identifies Hemmingway’s technique of adopting realism and simplicity into his novella with the first line “He was an old man who fished in a skiff” clearly emphasising the sparse description of the protagonist. Martel in contrast uses a frame narrative to begin the novel, placing emphasis on the narrator. Even though the majority of the book is presented in the first person, the narrator can be seen by the reader as an authorial voice, placing the author personally into the structure of the novel to bridge the divide between fact and fiction.
The author progresses from the frame narrative to the first section of the novel “Toronto and Pondicherry”, which through the first line presents the suppressive tone of tragedy as “My suffering left me sad and gloomy”. The reader immediately identifies Pi’s experience to have had an effect, with the author presenting Pi in his adult life before moving into his child narrative of his survival. This technique to include different passages of time is used effectively for the reader to relate to the character, to understand his background before and after the tragedy.
In comparison “The Old Man and the Sea” begins with a depressed tone as “he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. “, which illustrates the Old man’s frustration linked with loneliness as “In the first forty days the boy had been with him”, demonstrating the old man’s first compassion for the boy. Compassion for objects of nature is a clear comparison between both Pi and Santiago’s attributes, with Pi seen strongly linked to religion as a form of companionship. The reader identifies Pi’s affliction for nature using extensive description of the sloth,
“Sleepiness and slothfulness” and seeing everything in a “Mango-like blur” expresses Pi’s detailed observation using alliteration and metaphor to attract the attention of the reader to the simplicity of the sloth. Pi’s love for nature is immediately compared with his interest in religion as his religious studies on “the cosmogony theory of Isaac Luria” is an important motif as this foreshadows the sinking of the “Tsimtsum” as the theory explains the contraction of the universe.
Religion is viewed in this novel as a form of companionship, as Pi finds friendship and kindness in his religious ideologies that play a significant part in his survival. As the reader can identify Pi’s exclusion from society as a young boy, Pi’s religious exploration into Hinduism, Christianity and Islam can be seen as stories which spread the teachings of a faith, but to offer comfort in Pi’s challenge of social acceptability. Pi’s exclusion is presented with humour, but the reader can sense the empathetic tone as, “It’s Pissing Patel!…
The sound would disappear, but the hurt would linger… the cruelty of children comes as news to no one… unprovoked uncalled for”. The author has linked childhood exclusion to enforce religious importance to the character, which is in contrast to “The Old Man and the Sea” as he is excluded in adult life. Santiago is seen in the first part of the novella to be ostracized from society as “many of the fisherman made fun of the old man”, but the author expresses the bond between Manolin and Santiago as a companionship, which is expressed through dialogue.
Hemmingway has used dialogue between these characters to further portray their emotional bond, revealing their relationship with paternal qualities, “The old man had taught the boy to fish and the boy loved him”. Manolin wants to help Santiago to “get sardines” and to “offer him a beer on the Terrace”, expressing Manolin’s devotion to the Old man against his fathers wishes for him to fish on another boat. The reader recognises conflict in that Manolin’s parents “had told him that the old man was now definitely and finally Salao”, illustrating the strength of relationship and companionship between both characters.
Hemmingway uses “Salao” to establish the Latin American influence and setting of the novella. This is used repeatedly throughout the novel to furthermore establish the culture from which this fishing tale is set. In contrast Pi can be seen to have a strong relationship with his father, with clear admiration in that his father is a zoo keeper, linking his affliction for animals and nature.
The zoo is a symbol of freedom for Pi, a place in which his problems could be forgotten as the author uses language to create a place of tranquility, with the reader identifying Pi’s personal relationship with the animals as he, “left for school under the benevolent gaze not only of his mother but also of bright -eyed otters and burly American bison and stretching and yawning orang-utans”. This conveys a level of friendship with nature, as personification is used to create a sense of youthful observation which echoes Pi’s relationship with Richard Parker. Furthermore Martel makes use of vivid imagery to elaborately place the animal’s importance for Pi “silver diamond doves, Cape glossy starlings, peach-faced lovebirds”.
The use of alliteration shows Pi’s deep observation, seeking acceptance from nature. Hemmingway presents the theme of nature in comparison to Martel, which is used to comfort the characters in their seclusion as their need for companionship places significant importance on the animals. Santiago’s first observation of nature is when the reader identifies the characters dream of Africa, a sign of the old man’s child hood which is used three times in the novel to signify peace with nature, ” the long, golden beaches and the white beaches, so white they hurt your eyes… he smelled the tar and oakum of the deck… ”
The author has used colour and sense of smell to depict the scene, offering a sense of regeneration which is used to create a cycle of nature comparing dreams of youth with old age, which leaves the realism and negatives of survival and his isolation with tranquility. In the same way Martel uses the Zoo as a symbol for freedom from his isolation, but the structure of the novel in its three parts echoes the three stages of life in Birth, Life and Death.
The first section explores Pi’s youthful exploration of nature and religion emphatically illustrated as “A germ of religious exaltation, no bigger than a mustard seed”, with continuation through maturation with Richard Parker to the realisation of his families death at the end of the novel. Anthropomorphism is a theme which can be seen in both texts, as the author uses this form of personification to create a clearer relationship between man and animal, with Martel using Richard Parker as the predominant animal in Pi’s survival, with the Old man’s relationship with the Marlin.
The striking use of a human name to represent the tiger is appealing to the reader as the author presented the character at the start of the novel as Pi reminisces “Dare I say I miss him?. I do miss him. I still see him in my dreams. ” The writer uses short sentences to provide an empathetic response from the reader, the reader wants to know who Richard Parker is as he is seen to be an important character in Pi’s life. The use of this animal links Pi’s relationship to his mother, father and his brother, as the tiger is a symbol of family life which he harnesses to resolve his loneliness.
Pi’s expression of love for Richard Parker is seen in Pi’s desperation for him to survive, “What are you doing, Richard Parker? Don’t you love life” Through the use of rhetorical questioning the reader can identify Pi finds comfort in communicating with the animals, with Orange Juice presenting the maternal figure linking his own mother in his thoughts. In comparison Hemmingway uses personification to explore the Old man’s affection for the sea and nature, with the author presenting the Old man’s love for the sea as “la mar”.
It is explained that “la mar” describes the sea as a feminine object, which links the Santiago’s loneliness from losing his wife with his affection for the sea. At the start of the text the characters emotional pain is represented as “Once there had been a tinted photograph of his wife… he had taken it down because it made him too lonely”. Hemmingway’s simplicity in style immediately explores the characters loneliness, with the boy and nature seen as objects which Santiago can confide in to forget his isolation.
As in similarity with Pi, Santiago shares a relationship with the marlin which shows clear indication of compassion but at the same time hatred for the fish as ” Fish… I’ll stay with you until I am dead.. I have never seen or heard of such a fish. But I must kill him.. ” These quotations explore Santiago’s changing view of the marlin placing his life before the fish in one view but on the other hand realising that killing the fish is what he must do. This can be compared with “.. Together? We’ll be together?
Have I gone mad?.. ” from Life of Pi which in the same way explores the realisation of what is needed to survive against a characters need for companionship, with both characters deciding what is the most important attribute, survival or companionship. Survival as explained in the introduction quotation is an individual’s instinct for self preservation, which can be split into several categories. The Old Man and the sea clearly presents the theme of determination, a theme which links the relationship between himself and the boy.
Santiago views his challenge for survival with the Marlin as something which he must prove to the boy “I told the boy I was a strange old man… Now is when I must prove it”. This represents to the reader that Santiago views his survival as a personal challenge, linked with the boys fascination with the Old man’s skill at fishing “And the best fisherman is you… There is no such fish if you are still strong as you say”. These quotes clearly illustrate the boy’s admiration for the old man, with the old man realising his compassion for the boy as “I wish I had the boy” repeated through the novella places the boy in high regard.