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Symbolism and Imagery in Life of Pi

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Jessica Simone

on 15 January 2013

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Transcript of Symbolism and Imagery in Life of Pi

The Colour Orange Orange is the symbolic colour of Hinduism. In "Life of Pi" the colour orange symbolizes survival and hope that God will save Pi. When the ship sank, a Chinese man gave him an orange life jacket, accompanied by an orange whistle that was attached to the jacket. Pi describes the ocean water as "black and cold and in rage." (Martel 117) Pi reached for an orange lifebuoy that would help him safely reach the lifeboat. He said "If there hadn't been the lifebuoy I wouldn't have lasted a minute." (Martel 117) Once reaching the lifeboat, pie secured himself to the bright orange tarpaulin by using an oar and the orange lifebuoy All of these objects help Pi survive the sinking of the Tsimstum ship. These occurrences are all a sign that Pi will be safe. All of the orange objects are associated with hope for the future, that Pi will survive even though he may find himself in tough situations. Orange Juice the orangutan is also with Pi on the lifeboat. Pi describes Orange Juice "As lovely as the Virgin Mary." (Martel 123) She is associated with pure, hopeful and genuine characteristics since she provides emotional support and maternal instincts to Pi. Orange Juice accompanied Pi on the lifeboat along with several other animals, including Richard Parker, a large, orange Bengal Tiger that keeps Pi alert and hopeful on the journey to survival. All orange images signify hope, courage, and faith. Thesis The Use of Symbolism in Life of Pi Red: Taylor Swift Richard Parker Pi's companion while stranded in the midst of the Pacific Ocean is a 450 pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Along with the challenges and difficulties one faces while on a lifeboat, Pi has to manage to take care of Richard Parker as well. Richard Parker and Pi develop a relationship and close bond throughout the course of the novel. Pi says "He made a sound, a snort from his nostrils. I pricked up my ears. He did it a second time, I was astonished. Prusten?" (Martel 180) It was as if Richard Parker was purring like a domestic house cat. This sound made by Richard Parker reassured Pi that he was not threatening him in any way, shape or form. Although Pi fears Richard Parker, he keeps Pi alert and occupied at all times. Without Richard Parker challenging Pi's every move, he would have given up on life very quickly. " If I still had the will to live, it was thanks to Richard Parker. He kept me from thinking too much about my family and my tragic circumstances. He pushed me to go on living. I hated him for it, yet at the same time I was grateful. I am grateful. It's the plain truth: without Richard Parker, I wouldn't be alive to tell you my story today." ( Martel 182) Richard Parker symbolizes the animalistic characteristics and instincts of Pi's overall personality. Pi actions are solely based on survival therefore causing him to act in a way that he would have never acted if still in his normal life back home in India. Pi's vegetarian promise is completely broken due to the fact that he must hunt for his food. As Pi spends more time lost at sea, he becomes more vulnerable and ruthless. Pi uses the Frenchman's body as bait as well as eating parts of it due to his lack of food and starvation once Richard Parker killed him. When Pi tells the Japanese reporters the true story about what happened, the readers realize that Richard Parker is Pi. Pi killed the Frenchman who murdered his mother and becomes a cannibal. Richard Parker symbolizes Pi's mindset and personality while lost in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Pi is so ashamed of his shocking behavior and is miserable due to the fact of his mother's death. He cannot handle the truth. Pi believes that it is easier to believe that a tiger killed someone, rather than his own self. Richard Parker can be considered the other protagonist in the story, simply because he is Pi. Richard Parker is only a sign of Pi, used to symbolize his animal-like qualities. The mysterious Algae Island represents religion. Pi describes the island of very green in colour. Green is the official colour of Islam. Muslims believe that green represents home and safety. People turn to religion in times of need and despair. Religion gives people a sense of hope and guidance for what is to come in the future, therefore Pi came across the Algae Island in his most time of need. Before coming across the island, Pi wrote in his journal "Its no use. Today I die. I will die today." (Martel 266) If Pi had not found the island, or found hope in his religions, he would have passed away on the lifeboat. The Agae Island is also a symbolic representation of the Garden of Eden. It offers salvation to Pi when he needs it the most. The tree where he finds the fruit with the teeth in the center is also a symbolic representation of the Tree of Knowledge found in the Garden of Eden. If Pi did not open up the fruit, he would not have gained the knowledge of realizing the island produces an acidic substance at night. Religion offers life to all of it's followers and that is exactly what the Algae Island offered Pi. Pi ate many helpings of algae each day as well as having fresh water to drink. He occasionally ate meerkats he found on the island and at night he slept in a tree. Pi felt safe and at peace while on the island. "I would have trusted staying on it during the worst hurricane. It was an awe inspiring spectacle to sit in a tree and see giant waves charging upon the island, seemingly preparing to ride up the ridge and unleash bedlam and chaos--only to see each one melt away as if it had come upon quicksand.” (Martel 341) Even if Pi would find himself in a terrible and dangerous situation like this, he trusted the island and felt safe. Whenever there is a disaster in life, people turn to religion which reassures them that everything will be alright. Pi lost all of his family members and still had the faith in God to persevere and keep fighting to stay alive no matter what situation he found himself in. Justin Bieber: Believe "Life of Pi" written by Yann Martel, displays the use of symbolism through the colour orange, Pi's relationship with Richard Parker, and his encounter with the mysterious Algae Island. Secondary Sources "We rely on symbols to represent abstract ideas. Symbols represent the larger meanings in life."

Douglis, Philip. "Every symbol tells a story: photographers can suggest meaning--and enable viewers to form their own interpretation--by using symbolism in their images." Communication World May-June 2007: 42+. General OneFile. Web. 2 Jan. 2013. The Algae Island Connection to World Life of Pi uses many symbols to make the story more interesting and easier to grasp. For example, Pi uses Richard Parker as a representation of himself because he believes that it is easier to understand a tiger killing someone than his own self. Symbols are used in our world today to portray stories and beliefs. An example of symbols used in people's everyday lives would be religious symbols. Lakshmi
Hindu Goddess of beauty, wealth and prosperity. Hindu's believe that Lakshmi will bring well-being and fortune to their families.
She is portrayed as a beautiful woman with four arms which represent the four goals in human life; success, desire/pleasure, fulfilling duties and knowledge.
She has a lotus flower in both of her back hands which symbolize purity and gold coins in her two front hands which symbolizes wealth and prosperity.
She is covered in precious jewelry and is wearing the colours gold and red. These colours also represent wealth and well being to Hindu people. Therefore, Life of Pi written by Yann Martel displays the importance of symbolism and signs through the colour orange, Richard Parker; The other protagonist, and the mysterious Algae island. Conclusion “Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge believes that symbols are indicators of wants. Wants may either be understood in the context of a wish or a lack. In both cases, the symbol signifies a desire for the fulfillment of a wish” Greene, Thomas M. "Coleridge and the energy of asking." ELH 62.4 (1995): 907+. General OneFile. Web. 5 Jan. 2013.
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