The Will to Survive in Life of Pi, Novel by Yann Martel and Movie by Ang Lee

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel, is the story of a story about a boy that was stranded in the Pacific Ocean with an adult male Bengal tiger. This boy’s name is Piscine Molitor Patel and he was just a young Indian boy who was travelling with his family to Canada. In the Life of Pi, Martel is trying to convey that having the will to survive can, and most likely will, surpass one’s morals. This theme is portrayed in both the book and the movie because they describe everything that Pi has to give up in order to live.

In Life of Pi, the first part of the book is about his childhood, beliefs, and surroundings. He starts off by telling us how he got his name, which was after a swimming pool in France, Piscine Molitor. Since he was named after a swimming pool, the reader can hypothesize that later in Pi’s life he might be in water.

Shortly after learning about how Pi got his name, he tells us that his Mamaji (uncle) taught him how to swim when he was seven. Pi says, “He tried to teach my parents how to swim, but he never got them to go beyond wading up to their knees at the beach…. Ravi was just as unenthusiastic” (Martel 8-9). His learning how to swim also builds up that Pi might run into trouble with water later on and that the rest of his family might not make it.

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In chapter 5, Pi tells us his primary school nickname, which was Pissing. His nickname, that bullies and even some teachers called him, shows that he suffered when he was young and the reader can pick up on the subtle hints that he will suffer later in life. Pi says, “I spent the last year at St. Joseph’s School feeling like a persecuted Muhammad in Mecca” (Martel 21), this is one of those subtle hints that he was suffering.

In the second part of the book, just after the ship has sunk and he is stranded with the tiger, Richard Parker (RP), and Pi has just experienced his first school of flying fish. Once he catches one, he knows what he has to do to it, but he is extremely reluctant to do so. Pi describes his inner turmoil as he has to kill the fish because he is a vegetarian and he doesn’t believe in the killing of animals. He recalls as he did the deed, “Tears flowing down my cheeks, I egged myself on until I heard a cracking sound and I no longer felt any life in my hands” (Martel 183). This moment had a huge impact on Pi’s life and helped him survive on the lifeboat because he was willing to kill another being and have that on his conscience in order to survive. Later on after much fishing has been done and Pi has given up on being a vegetarian, he says “It is simple and brutal: a person can get used to anything, even killing” (Martel 185). This shows just how much Pi has changed through his journey of survival. He went from a naive Indian boy, to basically a savage human that will do anything to live.

In the movie for Life of Pi, the filmmakers adapt the theme that the will to survive will surpass one’s morals by the actions that Pi does while he is on the lifeboat. When Pi is eating they show him just ripping the meat of the fish off of the skin with his teeth and the scales falling all over him. They also show him as very ragged and dirty which goes against the morals of most humans because hygiene is very important to us. At the end of the movie when Pi gives his alternative ending, he says he ate human flesh, which is the ultimate last resort of him losing his morals in order to survive.

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The Will to Survive in Life of Pi, Novel by Yann Martel and Movie by Ang Lee. (2021, Dec 15). Retrieved from

The Will to Survive in Life of Pi, Novel by Yann Martel and Movie by Ang Lee
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