Book Analysis: Life of Pi Essay
Polina Bystrytska Bystrytska 1 Ms. Kalymon ENG3U1-02 Thursday July 15th 2010. Oh, How Tragic. Tragedy is an action or a pattern of actions that we wish never had happened. Tragedy even occurs in Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. This can be shown in the theme or separation and isolation: Not only from his family but also from humanity. The unpleasant setting Pi has to get used to, As well as the loss of his innocence. Yann Martel’s Life of Pi is a tragedy due to the obstacles Pi is put through and the challenges he has to face.
The novel Life of Pi is a tragedy because Pi is isolated from society. When the Tsimtsum sinks, everyone that was on board dies, including his family. He is stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with only Richard Parker. When Pi sees the wild animal swimming toward his boat after the ship wreck, Pi Sais “[…] and we’ll be together […] we’ll be together? Have I gone mad? ” (Martel 99) At this moment Pi realizes that he is about to let a huge wild hungry tiger on board. A tiger that his dad taught him a memorable lesson about. He was about to be stuck on the boat with a beast that could possibly end his life in a heartbeat.
And so it was only him and Richard Parker. He will be Pi’s only companion for the trip. Their journey begins. Months go by and due to his loneliness he starts talking to Page 2 Richard Parker. Even though he has a diary that he writes in everyday, he obviously feels socially alone. Pi has several conversations with Richard Parker. Most of the time he hallucinated the animal talking back, when we know that is just impossible. When Pi feels that Richard Parker is showing affection or some kind of emotion Pi would feel the need to speak up. […] I love you Richard Parker […]” (236) Pi shows compassion for Richard Parker because you always need somebody to care for and love. Pi is so alone that his only social group and his only alive ‘friend’ for the next 227 days is a tiger. During their voyage Pi has learnt to love Richard Parker as his friend or a brother. Richard Parker is Pi’s only population. This is why he feels the need to communicate with the wild creature. That’s why it is sad for Pi when Richard Parker runs off into the woods of Mexico without a ‘proper’ goodbye that Pi would have hoped for.
But isolation and loneliness is not the only way tragedy can be proven in this novel. In Life of Pi tragedy is also shown through the settings Pi has to live with. His surroundings make it really difficult to adjust to. Living on a boat, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a low supply of food and a tiger. Pi also has to survive through some harsh weather conditions. “The sky was a heavy, suffocating blanket of grey cloud […]” (215) Pi had to make a tarp and hide under the rain with Richard Parker. Pi was not only trying to survive through rain and thunderstorms but also through scorching heat and humidity.
The heat made him thirsty and hot, but he couldn’t always drink fresh water and take a swim to cool off. “The water began to churn around us with sharks. ” (127) Pi did not Page 3 always have a choice to go and take a swim. He would rarely get into the water, and every time he did, Pi would be making a life taking risk. Who knows when a shark would take a snap at his legs or even arms. This was a very ridiculous and an unpleasant setting for Pi and Richard Parker. Try being stuck at sea and not be able to even swim.
Very tragic. There is also one more way tragedy can be shown, and that is through the loss of innocence. The loss of innocence can be demonstrated in two different ways in Life of Pi. One of the ways is when Pi has to put his religious views aside (Hinduism) and eat meat. This had happened when Pi was running out of food and killing a fish was his only way of feeding himself. “It was the first sentient being I had ever killed. I was now a killer. ” (183) were the thoughts running through his mind. When they run out of food on the boat, Pi and Richard Parker needed something to survive on.
Eating fish, turtles and even meerkats was their only way of not dying from starvation. Pi gave in. Well, he had to. So they are at sea for quite some time now, and then they come across this Algae Island. For Pi this seems too good to be true. He thinks he’s hallucinating and imagining the whole thing. This island has everything; protection from the weather, food and even fresh water. While Pi was on the island he found some fruit too. “I wanted to try the fruit, but the tree was too high. So I returned with a rope. If the algae was delicious, what would its fruit be like? (278) Is what Pi thought to himself. We can compare this island to the Garden of Eden. It’s a very beautiful place but it’s more than meets the eye. When Eve and Adam take a bite of the Page 4 forbidden fruit they are kicked out of heaven and are forced to live in our ‘earth’ conditions that they were not used to. Just like when Pi discovers this place, it’s gorgeous but then he finds out that this island is really a carnivorous one. The algae turns highly acid and eats the fish.
So he if forced to leave because even the fruit wasn’t really fruit. The fruit turned out to be leaves wrapped around human teeth. Just like Adam and Eve, Pi finds out that the temptation of biting or trying to bite the fruit had its consequences. This was the reason why Richard Parker returned to the boat every night. It’s upsetting for Pi when he realized that things are not always as they seem. Facing difficult challenges and dealing with unpleasant and life threatening circumstances that Pi has to face is what makes Yann Martel’s Life of Pi a tragedy.
He made it through avoiding sharks at all costs, weather patterns and losing his innocence. He also made it through isolation from civilization. Being all alone for over a year with an animal can make any person go insane. Sometimes a people can overcome the harsh obstacles that they are being put through. Sometimes they make it and sometimes they do not. Pi’s ambition and faith in all three religions is what helped him overcome this tragic event. Martel, Yann. Life o Pi . Orlando: Harcourt Ink. , 2001.