Life of Pi

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ENG 4U Period 3
October 5th, 2011
The Role of Symbolism

Humans, animals, plants and all living organisms are fighting for their rights in order to live in this world. The novel Life of Pi, Yann Martel uses a wide range of literary devices to present the different themes in the novel, one of which is symbolism. The significance of Pi and what it symbolizes, the adaptation of survival and the settings in the novel Life of Pi shows the presence of symbolism in the novel. Yann Martel presents the scenario as being real, he is trying to make us believe what we are going to read. In the author’s note, Yann Martel explains that he flew to India in spring 1996 after his second book wasn’t successful in his native Canada. He describes meeting Francis Adirubasamy in a cafe, and is told the story about Pi. He eventually meets Pi back in Canada and Yann Martel decides to tell the story from Pi’s perspective.

Many of the names of animals, objects and humans in the novel have a symbolic meaning. Many of these symbols are connected with the name ‘Pi’. One of these is the number 3.14. The number describes the symbol π, an ancient mathematical symbol. We learn in Chapter 63 that Pi spends 227 days at sea. “I survived 227 days. That’s how long my trial lasted, over seven months” (Martel 254). Even this small detail is significant as 22 divided by seven is 3.14. Pi describes the number 3.14 as elusive and irrational. This can be seen in chapter 5 “And so, in that Greek letter that looks like a shack with a corrugated tin roof, in that elusive, irrational number with which scientists try to understand the universe, I found refuge” (Martel 32). This reflects Pi’s own unusual personality. He attends three different places of worship mentored by three separate men without them knowing of Pi’s multi-faith, until they meet accidentally. Pi’s uniqueness is also illustrated in the way he speaks out against the criticism of zoos and has a different way of...
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