Darkness of the Mind: the Emotional Survival of Piscine Patel

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In “Life of Pi”, by Yann Martel, Pi had to overcome emotional obstacles in order to survive his 227 days in the Pacific. Pi faced challenges that would have prevented his physical survival; hesitation, loneliness, despair and boredom. These obstacles would have crippled his mind if he did not conquer them. Pi not only overcomes these obstacles to survive the journey, but takes away valuable lessons from his experience. In order to face the challenges that were presented to him, Pi had to face the imperfections within himself.

Pi’s hesitation had to be overcome in order to survive his 227 day ordeal. Pi was strictly a religious vegetarian. His belief that all life is sacred restricted him from taking a life to survive. If he had not adapted to the idea of killing, Pi would have been emotionally and psychology traumatized. Pi was greatly ashamed and sorrowful after killing a flying fish for the first time, stating that all sentient life was sacred. “I wept heartily over this poor deceased soul. It was the first sentient being I had ever killed. I was now a killer. I was now as guilty as Cain.” (Martel 203) Pi felt guilty because of killing an animal, although it was necessary for his own survival at the time. Pi, being a devout Christian, compares his act of necessity to the heinous crimes of Cain, the first biblical murder who killed his brother out of envy. As his journey across the Pacific progresses, Pi gradually adapts to the unfortunate situation. He begins to accept that he must kill to survive. He killed a dorado with much less discomfort than when he killed the flying fish. He noticed the change, saying that: “…a person can get used to anything, even killing.” (Martel 205) Pi acknowledges the simple and brutal truth. No matter how opposed he was against killing, even Pi - a devoutly religious vegetarian - could become accustomed to it. Although this may seem bleak, his ability to adapt to the situation saved him psychologically. If he had...
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