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Life of Pi Seminar
Transcript of Life of Pi Seminar
Passage: Chapter 74
"I practiced religious rituals that I adapted to the circumstances--solitary Masses without priests or consecrated Communion hosts, darshans without murtis, and pujas with turtle meat for prasdad, acts of devotion to Allah not knowing where Mecca was and getting my Arabic wrong. They brought me comfort, that is certain. But it was hard, oh, it was hard. Faith in God is an opening up, a letting go, a deep trust, a free act of love - but sometimes it was so hard to love.
Sometimes my heart was sinking so fast with anger, desolation and weariness, I was afraid it would sink to the very bottom of the Pacific and I would not be able to lift it back up.
At such moments I tried to elevate myself. I would tough the turban I had made with the remnants of my shirt and I would say aloud, "THIS IS GOD'S HAT!"
I would pat my pants and say aloud, "THIS IS GOD'S ATTIRE!"
I would point to Richard Parker and say aloud, "THIS IS GOD'S CAT!"
I would point to the lifeboat and say aloud, "THIS IS GOD'S ARK!"
I would spread my hands wide and say aloud, "THESE ARE GOD'S WIDE ACRES!"
I would point at the sky and say, "THIS IS GOD'S EAR!"
And in this way I would remind myself of creation and of my place in it.
But God's hat was always unravelling. God's pants were falling apart. God's cat was a constant danger. God's ark was a jail. God's wide acres were slowly killing me. God's ear didn't seem to be listening.
Despair was a heavy blackness that let no light in or out. It was a hell beyond expression. I thank God it always passed. A school of fish appeared around the net or a knot cried out to be reknotted. Or I thought of my family, of how they were spared this terrible agony. The blackness would stir and eventually go away, and God would remain, a shining point of light in my heart. I would go on loving” (Martel 231-232).
In the novel, Life of Pi, the passage in chapter 74 incorporates a rich literary significance that enhances the important theme that
the practice of religion will strengthen one’s faith and provide hope.
The language used in this passage is mostly abstract and emotional.
Martel, Yann. Life of Pi: A Novel. Toronto:
Vintage Canada, 2002. Print.
used when Pi is explaining that he ‘would’ touch, pat, point or spread his hands wide exclaiming, “THIS IS GOD’S... (Martel 231)”
emphasizes Pi’s efforts in reminding himself of God’s ownership aboard the lifeboat through his creations.
“Faith in God is opening up, a letting go, a deep trust, a free act of love -- but sometimes it was so hard to love” (Martel 231).
is used to stress what follows after it, it’s Pi’s afterthought of what he is really feeling. He was having so much trouble remaining humble and staying true to his religions and himself.
The author uses many religious allusions from Hinduism, Christianity and Islam to help the reader understand Pi’s commitment to his different religions which gave him strength and knowledge.
For example, “solitary Masses without priests (...) pujas with turtle meat for prasdad, acts of devotion to Allah not knowing where Mecca was” (Martel 231). This indicates that he continued practicing rituals although modified and absent of certain requirements.
“My heart was sinking so fast, (...) I was afraid it would sink to the very bottom of the Pacific” (Martel 231).
This portrays a sense of vividness behind Pi’s thoughts of abandonment by God due to his suffering.
Interestingly enough, Pi uses the subject of ’sinking’ to express his feelings of pain and agony, this relates to the sinking of the Tsimtsum cargo ship, where he lost his family and all the zoo animals.
“Despair was a heavy blackness that let no light in or out. It was hell beyond expression” (Martel 232).
the comparison of despair with the colour black (evil) and hell shows the reader Pi’s darkest moments in which he loses faith in God (the light) due to his hardships.
“The blackness would stir and eventually go away, and God would remain, a shining point of light in my heart. I would go on loving” (Martel 232).
Pi continues to use the black vs. light comparison to prove that his faith triumphed the evil and his negative thinking, God remained in his heart and he will continue to be faithful.
“God's hat [Pi's turban] was always unravelling. God's pants were falling apart. God's cat [Richard Parker] was a constant danger. God's ark [lifeboat] was a jail. God's wide acres [nature] were slowly killing me. God's ear didn't seem to be listening" (Martel 232).
He compares God's possessions with the things on the lifeboat because he feels as though God, himself, is punishing and neglecting him.
symbolizes Pi’s questioning in God because of the fact that he lost everything he had ever had and was continuing to suffer and be in danger.
The setting takes place in 1977, on a lifeboat floating adrift in the Pacific Ocean.
influences Pi’s living conditions, fears, desires and values. He hopes that faith will revitalize his body, mind and soul in order to survive the treacherous waters and the degrading standard of living.
The tone in this passage is very significant because it changes throughout.
It starts from being a matter of fact, when Pi explains his acceptance towards his situation, ”I practiced religious rituals that I adapted to the circumstances,” (Martel 231) to being quite lyrical and emotional when he expresses his innermost feelings about faith.
The tone switches to being optimistic and positive when Pi says, “At such moments I tried to elevate myself” (Martel 231).
The tone then lowers to a more negative and pessimistic view, when Pi starts to think about his suffering and God’s inability to save him.
At the end of the passage, the tone finally returns to being hopeful and optimistic again because he realizes God has always been present, reassuring him with signs of hope.
The conflict in this passage would be internal and external
specifically, man vs. self and man vs. nature / God.
Pi’s life is threatened when he is forced to share the lifeboat with a malicious tiger, he has to overcome starvation and face God’s forces of nature.
He is exhausted physically, mentally and spiritually. In this passage, Pi is mostly struggling with himself, he questions his faith and doubts his chances for survival.
This conflict is resolved when he realizes God’s creation and how thankful he is for it, he continues to have hope and is at peace again.
By: Nelissa Bustamante
The theme behind this passage explores how devotion to religion will effectuate hope and courage upon one who struggles with their faith. Pi was fully dedicated to three different religions, this helped him spiritually and was, therefore, able to thrive through the treacherous seas and deathly forces of nature. Even through all his struggles and tragic losses, he manages to keep God in his heart and remain faithful.
Language - Anaphora, dash, metaphor, visual imagery