Binary Opposition of Life of Pi

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The Binary Opposition Narrative in Life of Pi

李英 2012010285

Abstract: Ever since its publication in 2002, Life of Pi has gained great popularity and high critical acclaim from critical circle. It arose the study of Li of Pi from various angels. But most kinds of analysis about the novel are focus on existing doubts about the story, and the religious symbols in the novels. The binary opposition narrative in the novel discussed rarely. The novel is full of the binary oppositions narrative, these made the story distinctive. By expounding the existence of the binary oppositions in the novel, to reveal the meaning of the novel conveys. Key words: Binary opposition; Pi; Tiger; Evil; Ego

Yann Martel (1963-present) is a Canadian author best known for the Man Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi. Life of Pi talked about a young boy, Pi, whose family runs zoo in India, providing him with interesting in the animal psychology. Because of the problems of economics and politics, his father decided to move to Canada with his family and their animals. Unfortunately, the ship met storm and capsized. He survived but stranded on a lifeboat With Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. After 227days, he reached the coast of Mexican and rescued by natives and the tiger disappeared in the jungle. As the only survivor of ship two officials from the Japanese Ministry of Transport research the reason of the ship sank. Pi told them two different versions about his experience. But one on can explain the reason of ship sank. At last, the research men had to accept one of the stories to wind up the case. Life of Pi contains abundant of implications. The most typical one is the binary opposition. In critical theory, a binary opposition is a pair of related terms or concepts that are opposite in meaning. Binary opposition is the system that in language and thought, two theoretical opposites are strictly defined and set off against one another. The opposition can be exchange in most of time by the situation. Binary opposition is an important concept of structuralism. In structuralism, a binary opposition is seen as a fundamental organizer of human philosophy, culture, and language. By using binary opposition to analyze the phenomenon of Life of Pi can dig out intension of the novel.

I. Binary Opposition of Theme

A. Fantasy and Reality

Life of Pi divided into three parts, Part One is Toronto and Pondicherry describes his childhood in India, Part Two is The Pacific Ocean represents an experience in the ocean with Bengal tiger; Part Three is Benito Juarez Infirmary, Tomatlan, Mexico. The high tide of the novel is Part Three. If Life of Pi only has two parts that removed the last part, the whole novel would be an adventure story merely, cannot cause such kinds of literary circles pay close attention to the book. The third part is essence of book. It implied Life of Pi is the combination of fantasy and reality. Pi has two stories, in the first story he straggled to live with Richard Parker—a Bengal tiger on the lifeboat. Second story is about a helpless 16 years old boy for saving his life and revenge to kill the cook who killed his mother. He told two stories for Japanese Ministry of Transport who research the reason of sank of the ship. Of course, he drew one of them up. The first story is full of the fantastic color, meanwhile, the story made people doubt its reality. It contains the four animals and Pi, the story have zebra, hyena, orangutan and tiger, they killed each other left the Bengal tiger and Pi, tiger is a predator but during the 227days tiger did not kill Pi, even they were lack of food and dying. It is strange that tiger ate the hyena but did not eat Pi. Actually, Richard Parker had a lot of chances to assault Pi. But he kept Pi in the end. This go against the nature of predator, tiger gets along with human being with its great hunger and gives up the food before its eyes is...
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