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Archetypal Lens and the Life of Pi

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Peter Boyce

on 20 June 2013

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Transcript of Archetypal Lens and the Life of Pi

Archetypal/Mythological Situations
A reoccurring plot pattern that can be observed in stories throughout history and cultures.
Quest
The hero's endeavor to establish
his or her identity or fulfill his or her
destiny. A task/purpose to fulfill.
Bildungsroman
Coming of age story in which a character grows up and matures.
Water
Salt water cannot help the human body live, as a result it cannot purify Pi. Stormy weather, where rain does not contain salt, instead of ocean water purifies Pi.
The ocean provides for Pi with rainwater and fish to eat, but is also trying to kill him
The Number Pi
Pi was out at sea for 227 days. 22 divided by 7 equals pi.
Yin and
Yang
Richard Parker v. Pi
The Fall
A character falls from a time of peace and heaven because of a sin/wrong doing. The character loses innocence.
A conflict between the
savagery of Richard
Parker and
the humanity of Pi
Pi went through the circle of life. He was born the day after the accident, where he is innocent and new to his environment and has some help from the emergency rations and flying fish. Later has to use his own intellect and experience to survive, much like other

creatures.
Pi ha
s

to come to terms to both of the
op
posites in him in order to survive.
The Number 7
Pi was out to sea from July 2, 1977 to February 14, 1978. Through closer inspection it was discovered that both dates involved the number 7. July is the seventh month of the year and the number 14 is divisible by 7. It was also found that the number of days Pi was at sea, 227, has the number 7 as well. As it so happens, the number 7 symbolizes unity. The number 3 is an archetypal for masculinity and the number 4 for femininity. Both added together makes up the number 7. Throughout the book, the number 7 is made apparent. The boat, a masculine symbol, and the ocean, a feminine image both add up to the number 7.
The number 3 is used in Christianity. The number pi goes on forever, making it an infinite but not perfect number
Numbers
R
epresents the
harmony
between opposite species.
Pondicherry Zoo
Algae Island
still can't
Shoot
Evidence for Quest
"We would soon be rescued. A ship would appear on the horizon...I only had to ensure my survival..." (Martel 113)
"And so it came to be:
Plan Number Sever: Keep him alive" (Martel 166)
Pi has a clear purpose, to stay alive. This is his goal throughout the story; survival. And every Quest needs a goal.
Pi must overcome obstacles on his mission, such as having to bunk with a tiger next door. His obstacles highlight his talents (the son of a zoo keeper), as Quests should. If a protagonist was not knowledgeable enough to meet the challenges, the novel would be a very short story. Pi uses his knowledge of wild life and zoo keeping to keep alive as ONLY he could.
"And then it came to light, an unspeakable pearl at the heart of a green oyster. A human tooth." (Martel 280)
This is Pi's final battle, the algae island. It is an internal battle, but a battle none the less as he must make the choice to either stay in the safety of the cannibal island with its surplus of food and water, or leave comfort and instead opt for taking the risk in the ocean and returning to the real world.
Color And The Life Boat
The boat can be seen as a cross. Survival on the boat is a difficult burden to bear and Pi attempts to abandon this burden on the algae island. This symbolizes that it is difficult to believe in religion. Pi realizes how empty his life would be without religion and how the material world would not satisfy him. The material world on the island would be easy: easy access to food and accessible shelter, but it would kill him because it would not sustain his humanity. By returning to the sea on the boat, Pi picks up the burden of his cross again. All of this returning back to the colour orange, Pi's hope for survival.
The boat is Pi's faith. Without out it, he is doomed to die. The inside of the boat is orange, which is a Hindu color. Essential objects such as life jackets and whistles are also orange. "I noticed an orange whistle dangling from the life jacket" (131). The whistle can be used by Pi by means of calling for help, giving Pi hope that all he needs to do is come close to someone and just blow the whistle to be saved. This ties hope and religious strength together as essential survival paradigms
Pi realizes how empty his life would be without religion and how the material world would not satisfy him. The material world on the island would be easy: easy access to food and accessible shelter, but it would kill him because it would not sustain his humanity. By returning to the sea on the boat, Pi picks up the burden of his cross again.
“Warmth came only when the sun, looking like an electrically lit orange, broke across the horizon, but I didn’t need to wait that long to feel it. With the very first rays of light it came alive in me: hope. As things emerged in outline and filled with color, hope increased until it was like a song in my heart. Oh, what it was to bask in it! Things would work out yet. The worst was over. I had survived the night. Today I would be rescued. To think that, to string those words together in my mind, was itself a source of hope. Hope fed on hope,” (Martel 199).

Based on this quotes, Pi says that the sunrise does give them a hope to survive everyday in the lifeboat and a hope to be rescued.
The boat is Pi's faith. Without out it, he is doomed to die.
The island symbolizes the Garden of Eden with its large infinite quantity of food and water with which it makes it seem like paradise. "We hadn’t been in the lifeboat a full day; we had food and water to last us for weeks" (Martel 337). This shows that the island is like a safe haven, where are the necessary things to live can be found. When Pi comes upon the tree that appears to have fruit, the Garden of Eden symbolism is confirmed. In Eden there were many trees, including the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (i.e. the Tree of Death). Like Adam and Eve in the Garden, Pi had plenty to eat and could have chosen faith over the physical desire for fruit.The fruit was black, on twisted branches, and out of reach, but Pi didn’t take the hint. His innocence is shattered.The twisted tree and it's fruit in the middle of the island represent the tree of knowledge. When Pi opens the "fruit" he finds teeth, giving him the knowledge he shouldn't stay there, similar to that of Adam and Eve's situation with the tree of knowledge.
A Similar Quest
The Odyssey
The algae island was perfect. It had water, food and good company.
Life of Pi
Pi climbed the trees and was safe
Circe's island was perfect. She had a mansion, good food, and provided Odysseus with plenty of company.
It had one flaw-man eating algae
It had one flaw- Circe was a sorceress who turned half of Odysseus's men into pigs
Odysseus defeated Circe and became her lover
He could have stayed
He could have stayed
He choose to continue his Quest.
He choose to go home
Evidence for Bildungsroman
"When the sun slipped down below the horizon it was not only the day that died and the poor zebra, but my family as well." (Martel 127)
Pi is being forced out of his family safety and, in a dramatic and forceful way, being thrust out into the world to either mature and look after himself or to die an abandoned child.
"Saw my suffering for what it was, finite and insignificant, and I was still." (Martel 177)
Pi is emotionally maturing through his experience. As he sits and realizes the insignificance of his life he is stepping out of the child comfort of believing oneself is the center of the world and into the adult idea that the Universe is huge and us only a small part of it. He is maturing more than most adults.
"That part of my mind that had rebuked me over my fishing fiasco scolded me again 'What exactly do you intend to feed that tiger of yours?'" (Martel 179)
Pi has to get over his discomforts, however righteous, in order to survive. He can no longer live in his ideal world where vegetarians can flourish without having to kill anything, and his voice of reason is growing and gaining more say over his actions as he goes to kill another fish. He is forced to become realistic, a trait only adults gain through responsibility.
Evidence for the Fall
Pi grows up and becomes alpha male of his life boat.
"The part of my mind that had rebuked me over my fishing fiasco scolded me again 'What exactly do you intend to feed that tiger of yours?'" (Martel 179)
BUT, what if it is not a maturing story or Quest? What is Pi is neither hero nor strong youth? What if he's just a sad, orphaned boy with no family and his eyes wretched wide open to the cruelty of reality? What if this is a Fall?
He is forgoing his vegetarian self. His thoughts are becoming mean, sarcastic and violent. This Pi, sarcastic and caustic towards his own self is not the same innocent boy who began his voyage.
"I mean small pieces, little strip that I meant for the gaff's hook slipped into my mouth nearly unnoticed. You must understand, my suffering was unremitting and he was already dead." ( Martel 256)
Pi is eating a human being. He has made the ultimate, most contrasting switch from vegetarian to cannibal, from idealist to survivalist. In every religion he practiced, eating human flesh is one of the most vile sins imaginable. Yet, here he is.
The entire second story=Loss of innocence
"He suffered and we couldn't do anything about it." (Martel 304)
"It was night, Mother. I was half asleep and I was hungry. he gave me a biscuit. I ate it without thinking." (Martel 306)
"Strips of flesh and pieces of organs were lying to dry in the sun all over the boat. We recoiled in horror. We tried not to look at them. The smell would not go away." (Martel 307)
"He killed her. The cook killed my mother." (Martel 309)
Final act of The Fall
"I
killed
him." (Martel 310)
"His
heart
was a struggle-all those tubes that connected it. I managed to get it
out.
I tasted
delicious,
far better than turtle. I
ate
his
liver.
I cut off great pieces of his
flesh."
(Martel 311)
TWO stories that exist
Animal Story
Human Story
In which there are both elements of Quest AND Buldingsroman
In which there is The Fall
EXCEPT...one quote that ties the two together
"Solitude began. I turned to
God
. I survived." (Martel 311)
Pi's story begins with a
Fall.
So traumatic and devastating that he can scarcely be recognized. A vegetarian gone
cannibal.
His story begins with the
second
story.
Then he is alone, and the
first
story begins. This is one in which he picks himself up,
forgives
himself of the things he's done, and finds
peace
once more.
It is a story to believe in
God,
because only in a world with
God
may a boy come back from so much
pain.
n this criticism, everything is
symbolic,
even the story itself. It does not matter if the
animals
really
existed,
because in
spirit
they did; their
purpose
was achieved. They acted as animals. The
tiger
acted as Pi's
anchor.
It does not matter which story is true, because they both achieved their
purpose.
The first narrated his
redemption
while the second revealed his
crime.
I
Villain:
The book life of Pi has no real figure that can be cast as the embodiment of evil for the book. It is filled with many obstacles that may be identified as antagonists, ranging from man vs nature, man vs self and man vs man.

"Just beyond the ticket booth Father had painted on a wall in bright red letters the question: DO YOU KNOW WHICH IS THE MOST DANGEROUS ANIMAL IN THE ZOO? An arrow pointed to a small curtain. There were so many eager, curious hands that pulled at the curtain that we had to replace it regularly. Behind it was a mirror" (54).

This quote examines the idea of man vs man, man vs nature and man vs self. It hints the idea that man is the most significant danger to not only nature (due to deforestation, pollution, etc.) but in turn suggests that man is the most significant danger to itself. If we were to stop caging animals in zoos and stop taking them a way from their natural habitat everything will go smoothly and take away the danger to ourselves. Being said, it is clear that in Life of Pi, the Villian is man.
Hero: type Loner/ Outcast
Pi from the start of the book was an outcast due to many circumstances. To begin with his belief in multiple religions at once isn't normal. It's generally looked down upon to be a student of three different faiths simultaneously.

"The pandit spoke first. 'Mr. Patel, Piscine's piety is admirable. In these troubled times it's good to see a boy so keen on God. We all agree on that.' The imam and the priest nodded. 'But he can't be a Hindu, a Christian and a Muslim. It's impossible. He must choose'" (49)

This on a spiritual level separates him not only from his family but also his peers from each respective faith. Highlighted upon in the incident when the different spiritual leaders, collided with one another whilst trying to go and visit Pi's parents.
It is all conjecture, perception. Because the meaning of a symbol rests in the eye of the reader. Just like the meaning of a story rests in the minds of its audience, never mattering if it is real or not.
The other factor that makes Pi an outcast is his physical separation from society for 227 days being stranded on the lifeboat. This forces Pi's to come to terms with all parts of his being and abandon his innocence earlier, then most people. This is where the tiger comes into play in the story, as the tiger represents another side of the same coin. As a Yin and Yang representation, Richard Parker is the beastly nature that exists in us all and Pi is the more civilized side. The boat displays that in times of turmoil and tribulation, it is essential for both sides to be able to coexist in perfect harmony in order to ensure survival.
This savage part of Pi helped him with his spiritual trial. Like many other things after the storm Richard Parker is a part of Pi's spiritual trial.
Life is perception.
Meaning is permanent.
UnderDog:
In another sense Pi can also be cast as the UnderDog of the story. All the odds are stacked against him surviving his traumatic ordeal. Compared to the animals on the boat, he is frail and nimble. In the other story, all indications point toward the cook being able to overpower Pi, remaining the sole survivor. To add insult to injury, his environment is hostile no matter where he goes. The boat is a prison surrounded by undrinkable water and a hostile inmate, the island secretes man eating acids at night that consume all biological organisms unlucky to be stuck in it's vicinity. The animal version of the story can also be looked at as his way of dealing with all the guilt associated with his journey. Doing so by making the events sound more appealing to the imagination. The last thing that makes him the underdog is the fact that he traversed his challenges and emerged victorious in the end of the book.
Temptress:
The temptress in the story isn't a physical person, but more so the island that Pi visited. It offered him unlimited food and peace, both of which he came to greatly desire and thirst for over the course of his journey. What made him decide to abandon his new found indulgences, was the fact that they didn't lead to his eventual salvation. This was the final test in order for him to overcome his trials and return to society again.
Martel went into depth describing this obscure island; implying there was more to the island than was read.

"My foot sank into the clear water and met the rubbery resistance of something flexible but solid. I put more weight down. The illusion would not give. I put the full weight of my foot. Still I did not sink. Still I did not believe." (Martel 92)

In this quote Pi displays doubt. Perhaps the island symbolizes the doubts a person may face in their religious beliefs. Even with all the religions Pi practices he still has to face the reality of life; which is, life throws you curve balls but its a test of your faith. Having many religions to reside to does not necessarily mean life will come easy.

The island was an illusion of what seemed like a perfect place to live; up to the moment of awakening when Pi found out the treacherous truth. This realization brought Pi back to reality. Life is filled of test that question our faith and our quest. Without obstacles the practice of religion would be too easy and the person wouldn't be experiencing "real faith".
Sage:
All the spiritual figures that shaped Pi's beliefs in his faith's are example's of sages for the book. Each of them teaches him to understand and except different, theories about the way that God works. Giving him a push in the right direction to understand the importance of story.
Life of Pi
Archetypal Criticism
Life Of Pi
Archetypal Imagery
Archetypal Characters
Can you name a symbol?
What was the archetypal character of Pi?
What was the temptress of this story?
What other Quest character face the same dilema as Pi?
What three archetypal plot structures are evident in Life of Pi?
What is another way to interpret the evidence given?
Now, pick a plot structure, The Fall, Bildusingroman, or The Quest.
Defend your side
Is there a villain in the story? Pick a side.
Defend your point of view
.
In Conclusion
Intro
The Archetypal Lens is the most prominent lens in the Life of Pi, truly affecting the life of Pi.
There are many forms of Archetypal Imagery in the Life of Pi that are able to show what Pi is going through on an emotional level.
Archetypal Characters are found throughout the Life of Pi, each having their own effect on Pi's journey.
Yann Martel's Life of Pi shows off many forms of Archetypal criticism including imagery and the characters throughout the novel
The Archetypal Lens is the most prominent lens in the novel Life of Pi, truly affecting the life of Pi. Yann Martel's Life of Pi shows off many forms of Archetypal criticism including imagery and the characters throughout the novel. There are many forms of Archetypal Imagery in the Life of Pi that are able to show what Pi is going through on an emotional level. Archetypal Characters are found throughout the Life of Pi, each having their own effect on Pi's journey. Archetypes are a very important aspect of this novel and truly display the life of Pi in a way that everyone can understand.
There are many forms of Archetypal Imagery in the Life of Pi that are able to show what Pi is going through on an emotional level.
Archetypal Characters are found throughout the Life of Pi, each having their own effect on Pi's journey.

By: Peter Boyce
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