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Life of Pi Photo Essay
Transcript of Life of Pi Photo Essay
25 July 2013
an open eye
The open eye represents one of the main themes in Life of Pi by Yann Martel. This theme is loss of innocence. One of the main reasons for maturing or losing innocence is having our eyes opened to the real world and all of it's negatives and positives. While maturing, a person experiences new things and learns different valuable lessons from these new things. Eventually, stronger moral values are created from these experiences, allowing the person to grow and develop into a well-rounded individual. In Life of Pi, Pi Patel certainly matures through his experience on the lifeboat. He goes from being a scrawny, little boy from Pondicherry, India, to being a strong, experienced man who can hunt and travel the high seas. Numerous examples from the book can explain a slight shift in Pi's maturing process, but there is one incident in particular that really allowed Pi to realize that he would have to sacrifice certain things in order to survive. Pi explains "It was the first sentient being I had ever killed. I was now a killer. I was now as guilty as Cain. I was sixteen years old, a harmless boy, bookish and religious, and now I had blood on my hands." (Martel, 203). In this, Pi has experienced killing a living thing and clearly is rather upset at the idea. Having gone through this experience, Pi's morals are shaped because he understands that although killing is horrible, it may be necessary for survival on the boat. However, it is the way that these things are dealt with that allow the Pi to truly learn and grow from the experience. In this case, Pi certainly grew from this experience because it opened his eyes to the sacrifices he would have to make in order to survive. In an innocent and utopian world, this would not be necessary but he is in the real world and is in the midst of a real and difficult situation and he must learn how to deal with it. This learning is what makes him a matured character in the reader's eyes.
Another theme in Life of Pi that should be understood is the importance of storytelling. What is a better symbol to use to represent storytelling than a book itself? Storytelling is an obvious topic through the book because Yann Martel tells the story Pi told through a story Martel wrote himself through a story of how he came across writing this kind of story. Even within the author's note, the first sign of storytelling appears when Mr. Adirubasamy offers his story to Martel. However, the main reason behind the importance of storytelling can be explained based on Mr. Okamoto and Mr. Chiba's reaction in the end of the book. When Pi asks which of his stories they liked better, Mr. Okamoto replied with "The story with animals is the better story." (Martel, 352) Moments earlier, the two Japanese men had just explained how they could not possibly believe Pi's story with the animals based on the unrealistic aspects and so Pi decided to give them the real, gruesome story he experienced. Through telling these two stories, it is obvious how both stories are important. The first, according to Mr. Okamoto, is the better story, likely due to the fact that having the animals portraying the real characters is more entertaining and lessens the intensity. However, the other story provides the real facts, as disgusting as they may be. With both of these stories told, the real experience as well as the emotional experience of Pi's story is told. In general, knowing both of these aspects are key in creating and understanding successful stories. Without one or the other, humans cannot exercise their imagination and suspension of disbelief, which can be key in developing as an individual.
Religion is a very important aspect involved in Life of Pi. It is clearly very important to Pi throughout the book. I used the cross to represent religion in Life of Pi but I know that the cross is one of numerous religious symbols across the globe. Pi experiences many different religions due to his curiosity and wonder as a young boy. On a bigger scale, religion definitely was one thing that held Pi together during his time on the lifeboat. Learning to have faith and believe was surely one of the main aspects that related his survival to his religion. In Chapter 63 of the book, Pi describes to us his daily routines. He separates the day into sections and lists his daily activities. Under each section, Pi wrote "prayer". This shows us that Pi stayed quite devoted to his religion while on the lifeboat. Even throughout his experiences, no matter the gruesomeness, he ensured that he would keep those in his prayers. For example, when he kills a fish, it is his first time killing and he is very hard on himself for it. He feels so guilty that he says "I never forget to include this fish in my prayers." (Martel, 203) In another section of the book, Pi tries to find hope in his predicament but realizes he is just in despair. However, when he thought of family or something to do, it went away. He says "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." (232). Pi relies heavily on his faith and prayers to help him get through life aboard the lifeboat. Clearly, religion and faith are extremely important to Pi and it is a major focus of his life.
Yin & Yang
Another major theme in Life of Pi is dualism. This theme is seen in numerous places. The main idea behind dualism is the quality of being or having two parts that are, most of the time, opposite. In Life of Pi, we can find multiple experiences where dualism appears. A major example would be with Mr. and Mr. Kumar. One is an Atheist while the other is Muslim. However, their differences certainly were not the matter when observing the zebra at the Pondicherry Zoo! Clearly, their beliefs did not make a difference and it brought Pi peace that both of them were enjoying the zoo unlike the incident that occurred when all three of Pi's religious mentors arrived at the zoo at the same time. Other than this situation, we see duality in Pi's description of the environment while on the lifeboat. However, he finds the worst form occurs when he is going between boredom and terror. He states that when the sea is calm, "You are so bored you sink into a state of apathy close to a coma." (Martel 241) But when the sea is rough, "your emotions are whipped into a frenzy." (241) The yin-yang symbol comes into play in many ways. First, Pi talks about how within these moments, the opposite feeling somehow sneaks its way in there. This is seen in the symbol as there is a black circle in the white section and vice versa. Also, since the yin-yang symbol represents the idea that each part cannot live without the other and they are dependent upon each other, the multiple descriptions of day and night that Pi gives us can explain this concept. Overall, the yin-yang symbol is very fitting for this significant theme.
These pills are representative of the constant will to live throughout the novel. Everyday, people take numerous pills and supplements, even if that is a struggle for them, in order to maintain their health and essentially, stay alive. Throughout the novel, there are constant moral struggles between what is right and what is wrong, but the main focus is to stay alive. For example, Pi is a vegetarian but as soon as he kills the fish for the first time, he feels guilty and dirty. Later on in the book, Pi confesses that he ate the blind Frenchman's flesh. "They slipped into my mouth nearly unnoticed. You must understand, my suffering was unremitting and he was already dead." (Martel, 284) Pi says. It is clear here that for someone like Pi, a vegetarian, it was only necessary for him to do so if he wanted to live. In other words, Pi's will to live made him sacrifice one of the things he honored heavily since his birth. This certainly shows Pi's strong character and maturation over time as well as his intense want to stay alive on the boat.
Dancing in pointe shoes obviously requires intense training and preparation of technique. In this technique, learning the ways of balancing is very key. This is similar to life in general, but is especially significant in Pi's life. The idea of balance is necessary for Pi in many ways - on and off the lifeboat. Pi realizes that in order for the lifeboat to be livable, there must be a proper balance between power, responsibility and faith. He also learns to balance his internal and external conflicts. When we learn that Pi used Richard Parker as a representation of himself on the lifeboat, we can go back to the original story and see how Richard Parker and Pi start to become more similar than ever, representing Pi's internal shift, one which he must balance with the external elements that surround him. He states "...with a pinching of the heart, I ate like an animal, that this noisy, frantic, unchewing wolfing-down of mine was exactly the way Richard Parker ate." (Martel, 250) Pi understands here that he is showing signs similar to Richard Parker and although he is slowly turning to his more aggressive, animal-like side, he must keep in touch with the situation around him as well as his faith. Overall, balance is key in Pi's life during this story as it is definitely a major factor as to how he survived and similarly, literal balancing is key in the success of a dancer!
In Life of Pi, the sea is a very significant setting. It is the site of Pi's story of hope, growth, and survival. Similar to the problems that were aboard the lifeboat, the sea threw other issues at Pi, such as marine life and currents, that he had to deal with. Essentially, the sea was the location of Pi's transformation from inexperienced to mature thanks to these problems Pi had to learn to deal with and understand. "Salt-water boils - red, angry, disfiguring - were a leprosy of the high seas, transmitted by the water that soaked me." (Martel, 213). This is just one example of how the sea gave Pi trouble. However, the sea was the location of Pi's perseverance. Pi had dominated the high seas and its numerous elements that proved to be difficult!
This tiger shirt is representative of Richard Parker, one of the most important characters in this book. Not only does he give readers the emotional insight to Pi's struggle on the lifeboat, but he is a figure of companionship for Pi, a character we likely pity for being stuck in this type of situation. Richard Parker is so clearly important to Pi's survival as well as his heart. Pi expresses his love as he yells, "I love you, Richard Parker. If I didn't have you now, I don't know what I would do. I don't think I would make it." (Martel, 262). Richard Parker gives Pi something to live for and is certainly a contributing factor to Pi's internal growth on the lifeboat as he is pretty much Pi's central focus the entire time. Richard Parker is also the face of Pi's experienced and hostile side, a side that Pi eventually comes to terms with by the end of his story as he realizes it is necessary for survival. Basically, Richard Parker makes Pi realize it is the animal instinct that keeps you alive. With such emotional and physical importance in Pi's story, Richard Parker is a heavily significant character in Pi's life and Pi states that if it were not for Richard Parker, he would "not be alive today" (182).
a life vest
The life vests in the novel were seemingly important to Pi and his raft but symbolically, the life vests in Life of Pi can be representative of Pi's hope and survival. Life vests save lives through the preventing of drowning. In the novel, Pi uses these to help him keep his raft afloat, a structure that was a form of safety for Pi from the rest of the animals on board. Also, attached to these life vests were orange whistles. It was these whistles that helped Pi control Richard Parker, who was ultimately illustrative of his own animal instincts. Without these life vests, Pi's raft would have suffered as well as his dominance over Richard Parker due to the absence of the whistle. It is obvious how important the success of the raft was to Pi as he claims "I worked feverishly, all the while cursing my stupidity. A tiger aboard and I had waited three days and three nights to save my life!" (Martel, 165) He sees the raft as a glimmer of hope for survival and a way to save himself from death. Without the life vests, the raft would not have been possible! Therefore, they are very significant to the story because not only do they provide Pi with the necessary materials to help tame Richard Parker, but they also help him create a raft that provides him with a sense of hope and survival - for now.
importance of storytelling
will to live
hope and survival
This image of a pool can relate to Pi as a character. Piscine Molitor Patel, also known as Pi, was named after a pool in Paris. Mamaji, Pi's 'uncle' and swimming instructor, described the pool as an incredibly, pristine swimming pool. Mamaji and Pi's father both thought highly of this pool, which is why Pi was named after it. "It was a pool the gods would have delighted to swim in." (Martel, 12) Mamji says. Mamaji also describes other pools that he swam in while in Paris, all with different characteristics and different memories for Mamaji. It could be possible that a connection can be made between the pools and religion as, similar to how Mamaji experienced different pools, Pi experienced different religions. At first, a dip in the pool to test out the waters is taken in order to decide if it's pleasurable. Similarly, Pi "took a dip" in three different religions, but could not decide which pleasured him the most! In a less extensive connection, Pi clearly followed his name's calling as he learned to swim. Funnily enough, this swimming background seemed to have been forgotten in the panic after the ship sank. However, Pi's extensive water training likely positively impacted his survival as he was not very afraid of the ocean itself, rather he was afraid of the ocean's marine life. Overall, Pi's connection, emotionally and physically, to swimming is one of many elements to his character.