October 15, 2012
Life of Pi: The Will to Survive
The main goal of every living thing on earth is to survive. Creatures will do amazing, extraordinary, and heroic things to live. However, they might also do terrible and horrific things in dire situations. It is interesting to think about how far one may go to keep their life. Shameful things might be done and morals might be broken. Times like these are what really show the true colors of people and hold anyone watching or reading or hearing in fascination. In almost every book or movie there is, most of the time, a life threatening situation the character must overcome: Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Life of Pi. Almost every story follows this classic monomyth archetype structure in which a character starts at home but is soon thrown into a situation where they must overcome many hard and life threatening trials. Yann Martel’s novel , Life of Pi, is a great example of the will to survive. Yann Martell uses the Monomyth archetype and the journey of a boy named Pi to show the extraordinary things people will do to survive, even if it puts their morals and even their religion at risk. In the first part of the monomyth archetype, life at home, Pi is still living in a reality where everyday needs are held for granted and believing in God and following his beliefs are relatively easy. Pi is a very content boy who strongly values his religion and his morals. He lives a modern and relatively simple life in which he is blessed with things like grocery stores, running water, a house, etc. Pi is also a very spiritual boy who honors his values. He simultaneously believes in the Hindu, Christian, and Islamic faith which he follows avidly. He does not eat meat, he reads his bible, and he attends the mosque every Friday. His vegetarian life is also made possible with his abundant supply of alternative foods. It is obvious that he holds his morals in high regards and follows his beliefs. But soon Pi is faced with a “call to adventure” when his family decides to sell their zoo and move to Canada. It is not until Pi is stranded in the middle of the Ocean with a Bengal tiger that everyday becomes a struggle for survival and his morals are really tested. After Pi descends into the next part of the monomyth archetype, “belly of the best”, and faces the bitter choice of survival, his morals are tested for the first time. Pi soon realizes that he has a strong will to survive. In dire situations creatures have a choice, to give up and die or struggle to survive. As Pi is stuck on a lifeboat with a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a soon to be discovered tiger, he witnesses each creature slowly and painfully die. But each one fights as hard as they can to live. The zebra fights for days to keep its life as the hyena eats it from the inside out. Then a peaceful orangutan fights furiously to the death with a hyena. Now it is Pi’s turn to choose. Will he throw himself upon the hyena in a final suicidal struggle and put his life in his own hands, or will he choose to survive despite the odds and put his trust in God? Pi is on the edge of giving up until a voice in his head says, “I will not die. I refuse it. I will make it through this nightmare” (pg. 148). Pi too discovers that he has “a fierce will to live” (pg.148). Pi’s morals are tested for the first time as he is given the choice to cast his life away or intrust it to God and “turn miracle into routine” as he works everyday to keep his life. Pi chooses to live “so long as God is with [him]” (pg.148). Pi is able to hold on to his morals and his life simultaneously but his trials have only just begun. Pi is now “on the road of trials” (the next step of the monomyth archetype structure) and his next tests will put his life and his morals of keeping a vegetarian lifestyle at risk. Pi will have to choose to ignore his religious values in order to survive. He is stuck on a lifeboat with a hungry...