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Life of Pi - Animal Imagery

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Danny Gosain

on 6 March 2013

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Transcript of Life of Pi - Animal Imagery

ANIMAL IMAGERY Animal imagery can be explained as the use of animals to describe people, or a person whose personality portrays animalistic features.
For instance,
If someone were deceptive and sneaky, they might be associated with a fox
If they were confident and strong they might be associated with a tiger
Another term to explain this can be Anthropomorphism IN LIFE OF PI Throughout the Novel, Animal Imagery, or Anthropomorphism was used in great detail.
There were two parallel stories in the book, and animals were used to represent humans based on their characteristics in the two parallel stories.
For example,
The Hyena represented the Cook
Orange Juice represented Pi's mom, Gita
The Zebra represented the Sailor
Richard Parker represented the evil side of Pi THE ORANGUTAN Considering the characteristics of the Orangutan, it can easily be stated that Pi's Mother Gita was parallel to the Orangutan in the "true story".
The Orangutan was very protective, sacrificing and showed motherly instincts on several occasions. When Pi saw the Orangutan floating on an island of bananas, Pi said "How bitterly glad I am to see you. You bring joy and pain in equal measure. Joy because you are with me, but pain because it won't be for long" (Martel, 123).
Pi was excessively happy and overjoyed after finding that the Orangutan was alive.
On the other hand, Pi was sad that their future didn't seem to be bright.
This is the reaction one would possibly have after discovering that someone in their family is alive, after such a horrific incident. Moreover, the Orangutan reminded Pi of his Mother.
Pi's mother Gita had other two sons, just like Orange Juice "Orange Juice also was a mother of two fine boys.” (Martel, 140).
After the hyena defeated the Orangutan and killed her, Pi was heartbroken. THE HYENA Considering the characteristics of the Hyena, it can be said that the Hyena was parallel to the cook in the "true story".
In the novel, there was sufficient proof to support that the Hyena was actually the cook in the other story. Firstly, both the Hyena and the Cook were selfish.
The cook was ready to sacrifice Pi for his own benefits, when he pushed Pi onto the boat.
Similarly, the Hyena was selfish as it killed the zebra and the orangutan for its own good. Why Hyena? The cook makes the second story horrific, more than anything else. A reader cannot accept the cook's savagery the same way he accepted Hyena's killings.
Therefore, in order to make it realistic and less horrifying, Pi used Hyena in place of the cook in the alternate story THE TIGER 'RICHARD PARKER' First and foremost, Richard Parker symbolized the savagery within Pi.
When Pi first enters the life boat, he is a civilized human being. During this time, Richard is under the tarpaulin, invisible to Pi. Yet, as the time Pi spends in the life boat augments, Richard begins to peak out. Considering the characteristics of the Richard Parker, it can be said that the the tiger was parallel to the evil side of Pi in the "true story".
In the novel, there was sufficient proof to support that the Pi used Richard Parker as a shield to hide his sins. By the time Pi meets the blind man, Richard is all the way out, and in effect to this Pi eats the blind man. Richard Parker represents Pi’s animal-like instincts. Pi has grown up as a devout Hindu, therefore he is a vegetarian.
As time progressed in the Pacific, Pi realized that he would have to eat meat in order for his survival.
He started off by ripping a fish apart and eating it.
After the blind man is mauled by Richard Parker, Pi then begins eating him. This act of cannibalism has shown the complete savage Pi has become.
Pi himself didn't want to take the blame for all the sins he performed against his religions, therefore he used Richard Parker as a shield to protect his dignity. Finally, as the life boat landed at the shore of Mexico, it ended the period of Pi’s savagery.
As soon as the life boat touched the beach, “Richard Parker, companion of my torment, awful fierce thing that kept me alive, moved forward and disappeared forever from my life”. (Martel 359)
This statement symbolizes that “savage Pi” is gone forever with Richard Parker and it will never return. SIGNIFICANCE OF ANIMAL IMAGERY Acting and speaking before thinking, this goes back to a humans’ primitive stage. We are all animals, in the sense that we are mammals.
Manifested through our psyche or personality, each animal has a different representation.
From personality traits, behaviour or even symbolism, animals have the ability to portray these features in humans.
Sometimes what humans do is hard to accept, and it is necessary to use Anthropomorphism to hide the sins of Humans. THE END Since the Orangutan and Pi's Mother share so many similarities, they should be parallel to each other in the alternate stories
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