Life of Pi analysis
Life of Pi “Life of Pi” written by Yann Martel is an incredibly philosophical novel that tells the story of survival. Pi Patel, a young Indian boy, is faced against the impossible when his familys boat is shipwrecked and he is left stranded in a lifeboat with an interesting and potentially harmful group of animals: a zebra, an orangutan, a vicious hyena, and the magnificent Richard Parker, a Bengal tiger with a human like name. Throughout the novel, due to his situation of being stranded, Pi had to take drastic measures in order to survive. Part of his need to survive resulted in Pi giving up his egetarian ways.
Slowly throughout the book, readers witness the transformation from Pi’s civil eating habits to an animalistic devouring of food . His transformation of eating habits leaves readers to question how, after reaching such a gruesome point, is Pi able to return to the life he lived pre-shipwreck, and return to his old eating habits as if nothing happened? In the beginning of the novel, it is quickly established that Pi was vegetarian.
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With being so close to the zoo keeping industry allowed Pi to develop a love and understanding for animals that many carnivorous eaters don’t.
His religion of Hinduism also played a part in Pi’s original eating habits. The strictness in his diet made it hard for Pi to, at first, get accustomed to life on the sea. Imagine going from eating a strict vegetarian diet to being required to eat anything in plain sight Just to survive. Pi’s first scene where he breaks his vegetarian diets occurred a days after the shipwreck. After realizing that the sea is full of edible life forms, Pi makes an executive decision and decides that, in order to survive, he must eat food that would defy his vegetarian ways.
After unsuccessfully using a leather hoe as bait for fish, Pi is interrupted by a school of flying fish. Luckily for P’, some of the fish fall into the boat, making them readily available for Pi and Richard Parker to eat. Being the animal that he is, Richard Parker does not hesitate to eat his portion of the fish. However the same does not go for P’. Eating the fish meant doing what he considered to be the unthinkable. Pi “proceeded with great deliberation” (182) and “unwrapped the fish carefully’ (182).
It was apparent that killing the fish went against all of Pi’s morals because “the closer the fish was to appearing, the more afraid and isgusted” (182) he became. Pi’s contemplated a lot before making his decision because “a lifetime of peaceful vegetarianism stood between and the willful beheading of a fish” (183). After deciding that the best way to kill the fish was to break its neck, Pi had “tears flowing down his cheeks” (183). The simple killing of a fish left Pi in an emotional state. Now instead of an innocent sixteen year old boy, Pi was a killer and guilty of taking a life away.
In other words, Pi now “had blood on [his] hands” (183). Despite Pi’s utter disgust and emotional breakdown, he continued to fish using the dead fish’s head as bait. As a result, Pi was able to attract the attention of a hungry Dorado bird. Once Pi realized that he had his next victim, he began to reel it in. However, the Dorado bird was not going to go down without a fight. Although it was a struggle for Pi to reel in the distressed bird, “killing it was no problem” (185). Pi beat the bird vigorously witha atc et n n . Unlike the tisn, Pi nad no issues witn killing the Dorado.
He maintained emotionally stable and didn’t really care whether or not the bird suffered while it was being beaten. At this point in the novel, readers begin to see how Pi’s eating habits are transformed. In such a short time, Pi went from “weeping over the muffled killing of a flying fish to gleefully bludgeoning to death of a Dorado” (185). This is proof to the believe that “a person can get used to anything” (185) regardless of what it is. In Pi’s case, he got accustomed to killing. As time passes by, Pi’s eating habits only become more brutal. After discovering the simplicity in catching turtle, Pi began to eat them.
More specifically, Pi butchered the turtles and drank the “sweet lassi” (212) that would spurt from the turtle’s neck. Not only did turtles become Pi’s “favorite dish” (212), but it also ate everything that urtles had to offer, whether it be their liver, heart, lungs, flesh, or intestine. Pi’s methods for killing the turtles and his behavior when eating the turtles showed how Pi was slowly transforming into a version of Richard Parker. His eating habits were becoming animalistic and they continued to worsen as Pi spent more time stranded out in the Pacific.
In addition to ravenously eating his prey, Pi’s mood began to reflect the amount of food he ingested. Once Pi’s rations were gone, “anything was good to eat” (213). Instead of using his morals and sense of reasoning, Pi would Just eat nything he could find, regardless of the taste. Even Richard Parker’s feces caused Pi’s mouth to water. Pi’s need for food numbed his mind from making reasonable decisions. In Pi’s mind, everything was edible, much like how animals perceive everything to be edible. On top of atrociously killing turtles, Pi began to kill small sharks that would swim by the lifeboat.
Instead of fishing for these sharks, Pi would “catch [the sharks] with [his] bare hands” (219) and eat their flesh. This sort of behavior Pi demonstrated further proves how his eating habits resemble those of Richard Parker. Whenever Pi would throw the tiger its ortion of the prey, Richard Parker would “attack immediately’ (219) by striking the animal with his forepaws. Similarly, Pi is beginning to “attack” his prey with his hands, and then devour it. Pi also reached a point where he, himself, realized how his eating habits resembled Richard Parker’s.
He became known of “how low [he] had sunk” when he compared his eating to the tiger’s. Both ate their food with a “noisy, frantic, unchewing wolfing-down” (225) nature. Even though at that point of Pi’s journey he seemed to have become a completely new individual, Pi still had some of his morals intact. When Pi became temporarily blind, a French cook boarded the lifeboat and began to talk to him. At the time, Pi thought that he was talking to Richard Parker. Pi and the cook discussed food, and the cooks view on food caused Pi to feel “sick” (245).
Unbeknown to Pi, the cook was actually a cannibal and had every intention to eat Pl. Luckily for P’, Richard Parker was there to save him by killing the French cook. However, although Pi was sickened by the thought of eating another human being, Pi’s actions following the death of the cook showed how hunger truly numbed his mind from remembering his morals and his vegetarian ways. After “catch[ing] one of [the cooks] arms with the gaff’ (256), Pi used the Frenchman’s body part as bait. Pi’s extreme need for food also drove him to eat some the man’s flesh.
Although the amount ot tlesn Pi ate was small and went “nearly unnoticed” (2 still ate the flesh of another human. That by definition is cannibalism. For Pi to go to such an extreme Just to satisfy his hunger confirms that he was willing to do anything to survive, even if it meant disregarding all of his religious and moral believes. Even if it meant that he had to become an animal, Pi was willing to do anything to survive. In the end, despite the food Pi was exposed to while stranded in the ocean, Pi did return to his peaceful life as a vegetarian.
When the interviewer went to hear Pi’s incredible story, the interviewer made note of the fact that Pi was an “excellent cook” (25). Pi happily made the interviewer some vegetarian tacos and zesty macaroni and cheese. It would seem as if Pi never viciously slaughtered turtles or sharks, or had eaten the flesh of another human being. It was as if Pi had forgotten the horrid things that happened on the lifeboat. However, that was the case. Those memories were forever mprinted in Pi’s memory, but Pi was able to move past the killings and continue with the lifestyle that truly made him happy and comfortable before his misfortunes.
As Pi stated before, “a person can get used to anything”. In regards to his eating habits, once Pi returned back to normal civilization, he became accustomed to the habits he had before the shipwreck.