Life of Pi

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How does Pi assert himself throughout his ordeal and how does this help him survive?

Reflecting a belief that in all things there is “a trace of the divine”, in Life of Pi author Yann Martel considers the basic animal instincts of humanity when faced with the most adverse of conditions, and ultimately, the all-encompassing, limitless nature of faith. Pi’s “unbelievable” survival, shipwrecked in the Pacific Ocean following the sinking of the Tsimstum and loss of his family, can at least be partly attributed to his ability to assert his avid faith in God; a deeply pluralistic embrace of each of his religions which enabled him to find a sense of hope throughout his ordeal. Yet the “miracle” of Pi’s survival was also aided by his decision to negate aspects of his devout religious scruples, “descending” to acts of savagery and primordial hunger in order to abet his survival. Through Pi’s ordeal however, Martel also comments upon the centrality of imagination and a belief in “some unknown element”, as Pi asserts a “fierce will to live” which proved as necessary to his survival as his physical sustenance. Moreover, although Pi’s somewhat fantastical “happy ending” does appear to transcend the laws of science and reason, Martel still argues that garnering a sense of faith within reason proved imperative to Pi’s ultimate survival, just as his inimitable belief in God did.

Initially characterised as a “well-contented Hindu”, during Pi’s childhood he begins “attracting religions the way a dog attracts fleas”, stemming from his simple desire to love God which saw him become equally faithful to the stories of Hinduism, Christianity and Islam alike. Yet it is through this unique blend of faiths that Pi later found a sense of hope and salvation in the most “extraordinarily difficult” of circumstances, later eliciting “a modest glow of hope” from Pi at sea. Thus, Martel endorses Pi’s willing desire to “see God in everything” as a necessary measure of his survival, enabling...
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