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Life of Pi- Quest for Enlightenment Seminar
Transcript of Life of Pi- Quest for Enlightenment Seminar
By: Madison Freeston
Close Reading of a Passage- Chapters 21, 22
“I am sitting in a downtown café, after, thinking. I have just spent most of an afternoon with him. Our encounters always leave me weary of the glum contentment that characterizes my life. What were those words he used that struck me? Ah, yes: “dry, yeastless factuality”, “the better story”. I take pen and paper out and write:
Words of divine consciousness: moral exaltation; lasting feelings of elevation, elation, joy; a quickening of the moral sense, which strikes one as more important than an intellectual understanding of things; an alignment of the universe along moral lines, not intellectual ones; a realization that the founding principle of existence is what we call love, which works itself out sometimes not clearly, not cleanly, not immediately, nonetheless ineluctably.
I pause. What of God’s silence? I think it over. I add:
An intellect confounded yet a trusting sense of presence and of ultimate purpose.
I can well imagine an atheist’s last words: :”White, white! L-L-Love! My God!” —and the deathbed leap of faith. Whereas the agnostic, if he stays true to his reasonable self, if he stays beholden to dry, yeastless factuality, might try to explain the warm light bathing him by saying, “Possibly a f-f-failing oxygenation of the b-b-brain,” and, to the very end, lack imagination and miss the better story.” (Martel, 63-64)
Passage Analysis Continued...
Chapter 22 emphasizes the important distinction between facts and imagination
Pi believes atheists have the ability to believe; they just choose to believe God doesn't exist. At the end of their lives, however, they can embrace God and die in peace
Light is normally seen as the colour white (associated with heaven and God)
Pi explains that as an atheist is dying, they have the choice to take a “leap of faith” (Martel, 64) as they are able to see “white” (Martel, 64)
Pi despises agnostics as they don't make decisions
Agnostics “might try to explain the warm light bathing him by saying, ‘Possibly a f-f-failing oxygenation of the b-b-brain’” (Martel, 64)
Agnostics would do this because they don’t take the time to actually see the possible reasons for the light and stick to what can be logically or scientifically proven
3 Supporting Arguments-
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Unit 4 Activity 8
"The presence of God is the finest of rewards" (Martel, 63)
Martel, Yann. Life of Pi: A Novel. New York: Harcourt, 2001. Print.
These passages are the root of the novel
In Chapter 21, we realize faith and love provide a better story
The author reflects on the “glum contentment that characterizes [his] life” (Martel, 63)
He sees Pi has imagination and believes in God
What connects Pi’s three religions is love
"The founding principle of existence is what we call love” (Martel, 63)
Love is the thread that can hold people together in times of dire circumstances
Passage Analysis Continued...
Having faith of any form is key, rather than agnosticism, where one misses the better story
Agnostics are “dry” and unpalatable, like “yeastless” bread; (the readers picture something that is boring)
Pi thinks agnostics will miss the opportunity to live life with wonder and imagination
Everyone is capable of believing in God, as long as one has the courage to believe in something
One will not see anything spectacular and live a great life, or find true meaning in life, if one does not take a leap of faith
Pi cannot prove to anyone his tale of survival, but one can simply believe the realistic facts, or be creative
It is not important who the characters are on the boat, it is their actions that are relevant
The same goes for religion; you must focus on the message it gives rather than who or what it is
Religion is aligned with imagination, while lack of faith is linked to accurate observation and rationalism
"Important Quotations Explained." SparkNotes. SparkNotes, 26 July 2013.
All stories follow a structured pattern with many stereotypical characters, known as the heroic quest pattern. This process follows a simple pattern of departure, initiation and return. It begins with general information about the protagonist and ends in the "hero" returning with some type of enlightenment, or knowledge.
In "Life of Pi" by Yann Martel, Pi suffers through these phases during his journey, from his call to adventure, to his return of starting over in a new life.
The novel is split into three sections, each with a specific purpose. The first section introduces the readers to the protagonist, including the call to adventure and crossing of the threshold, while the second section is the actual journey he partook in. The final section is the return, leaving the reader questioning the story.
Pi was a young boy living not such a normal life for a boy his age, when he got called to an adventure and unwillingly crossed the threshold of reality.
The next stage in Pi's journey is initiation. Pi was forced to go through many tests during his quest before arriving at the major climax, or turning point, in his life.
Pi finally overcomes all odds and survives his exhausting journey, crossing the threshold once again and returning to reality.
In "Life of Pi" by Yann Martel, Pi suffers through phases of the quest pattern during his journey, from his departure in India to his return in his new life in Canada.
Growing up in a zoo is just a start to Pi's not so normal life; he also has a passion for three different religions. This love for God helps Pi cross the threshold when the boat sinks and Pi must escape reality to live on a lifeboat.
Pi's family owned the Pondicherry Zoo when he was a kid, which had an impact on his family when they moved to Canada. Pi took this call to adventure (moving to Canada) reluctantly, however he was forced into going. This is also the rising action of the novel.
Pi was called to adventure and forced to cross the threshold out of reality, where he endured multiple tests until reaching his journey's climax. He turned to God whenever he began to lose hope and it pushed him to survive. After battling through the harsh elements of nature and the necessities of food and water, Pi was able to return to the everyday world with useful knowledge he shares with the author, who will then use it for the benefit of the world. People who hear Pi's story have the choice of listening and believing, or living with no imagination and wonder.
"Moving a zoo is like moving a city...two animals were being shipped to the Canada Zoo. That's how Ravi and I felt. We did not want to go" (Martel, 88).
This quote explains how Pi was feeling when he heard the news of moving to Canada. He involuntarily boarded the ship, which is the start to the crazy journey that makes his life even more unusual.
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Pi was "a Hindu, a Christian and a Muslim...[he] just want[s] to love God" (Martel, 69). His daily routines on the lifeboat consisted of prayers before each meal, which helped keep him busy and his mind off the sinking of the Tsimtsum.
By continuing with his religions on the lifeboat, it helped Pi get through this horrible threshold because he knew God would always be there for him to turn to. Pi's religious faith remained strong throughout his journey on the Pacific Ocean. Without it, Pi would not have survived once he crossed the threshold as he would have lost the will to keep going.
Pi's background of growing up in a zoo while practicing three religions lead to his departure on his quest for enlightenment.
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After surviving all the tests, Pi reached his journey's climax. This occured when Pi's lifeboat lands on the shores of Mexico and Richard Parker walks away without turning to look at Pi. This hurts Pi because the tiger was the reason he survived. Pi learned to love him and thought they made a bond.
Weather, hunger, thirst and being accompanied by a Bengal tiger are tests Pi endured during his quest in the Pacific. Even with starvation and dehydration on the edge of reality, and an adult tiger living on a lifeboat with him, Pi turns to God to give him strength and live through the nightmare and the torture of this adventure.
All of these tests helped Pi grow mentally in his faith and he never gave up hope. Anytime he began to feel he was reaching death, he turned to God, who pushed him to survive. By listening to God, this resulted in Pi surviving to reach his journey's climax.
“I would have given up – if a voice hadn’t made itself heard in my heart… I will make it through this nightmare… Yes, so long as God is with me, I will not die.” (Martel,148)
Pi couldn't believe Richard Parker did not even acknowledge him when landing in Mexico after all they had been through. Pi did not need Richard Parker anymore, yet he hoped he could have at least said goodbye and "[t]hank you for saving my life" (Martel, 286).
"He didn't look at me[...]Richard Parker[...]moved forward and disappeared forever from my life[...]It's important in life to conclude things properly[...]That bungled goodbye hurts me to this day" (Martel, 284-285).
Pi continued to suffer through the initiation phase of his quest by battling through mental and physical tests. By completeing these, he reached the turning point in his quest where in one glance, he lost the one thing that kept him alive through it all; Richard Parker.
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Pi's lifeboat landed on the shores of Mexico, where a tribe found him and brought him to their village. This was how Pi crossed the threshold and returned to civilization.
"They gave me food[...]gave me clothes[...]gave me a bath[...]cared for me" (Martel, 286).
Pi slowly began to remember what life on land was like and was grateful for everything the Mexicans did for him. They, and God, are the reason Pi had such an easy time returning to the normal world, as they were there for him when he needed them the most.
Pi was brought to a hospital after being cared for by the Mexicans. While there, Japanese investigators interviewed Pi in order to figure out what went on. It is clear to see Pi has adapted to his new life on land and is ready to start over.
After explaining to the investigators his two stories, Pi says he will "go to Canada...not back to India...[because] [t]here's nothing there for [him] now. Only sad memories" (Martel, 318).
Pi lost everything he had ever loved, so all he had left was God. Pi matured into a man while on the lifeboat and realized there's no point in going back to his old life since there is nothing left for him but sadness. He goes to Canada like his parents wanted and starts a new life practicing each of his religions.
Once reality was restored, Pi got the chance to start over and live life the way he wants. In the return stage of a monomyth, the protagonist normally returns with some type of knowledge they can use in the everyday world. In this case, Pi has the knowledge of God and it is up to society to either accept this blessing, or discard it.
If Pi were not religious, or lost his faith in God, would he have made it to the end of his quest?