Life of Pi

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Martel's Life of Pi is very much a "slice of life" novel, with a highly whimsical style. There is no great conflict between characters for the majority of the novel, as the plot culminates around Piscine, a very charming, mature, and curious young boy. Instead, conflict tends to be turned inward. One exception is Pi's clash with his classmates, who tease him for his strange name. "Piscine" solves the conflict by dubbing himself the math term "Pi", which quickly reverses his fellow classmates' thoughts about him. They come to respect him -- not because he reacted negatively, but because he turned something potentially negative into something positive; in fact, Pi's reaction was so positive that it caused others in his class to shorten their names. Pi's incredible way of solving problems and preventing conflict sets a precidence by which the novel plays itself out in later chapters, and his conflicts represent higher conflicts which plague the world we currently live in.

While still in India, Pi faces conflict over what religion to choose. A Hindu, he is still equally interested in Islam, Christianity, etc., and so decides to join several. Certainly, spiritial conflict -- both inward and outward -- is an issue of great importance today, where borders are less prevalent and the mixing of cultures is inevitable. Pi, miraculously, finds a way to balance each religion, and when his parents find out about his conversions and tell him that he can only be of one religion, his statement reflects why religious conflict should not even occur: Why can there only be one if every religion has similar characteristics to the others? Why is there only one way to believe? Pi not only reflects a growing and changing India -- one which includes a multitude of religions, cultures, and languages -- but he also reflects a changing world in which globalization is at the forefront. When Pi is on the lifeboat, religious symbols become even more apparent -- Pi reads the boat's manual as...
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