Is Life of Pi Existentialist?
There are two views of existentialism, that of the more popular atheistic view, and that of the theistic view (Sartre Lecture). In the book Life of Pi, by Yann Martel the main theme of the book is religion, with the main character being of multiple religions: Hinduism, Christian Catholicism, and Islam. (Martel). Life of Pi is both Existentialist and non-existentialist, in both the atheistic and theistic views because of specific religious beliefs, abandonment of religion, despair, and the ultimate use of human instinct for survival.
I would first like to begin by giving brief explanations of both sides of existentialism, because both do apply to this book, even though the main theme is religion. The main idea of existentialism is that of “existence before essence” (Sartre Lecture). By this, they mean that we define ourselves as what we are by our own actions and free will. We exist before our essence, or our determined character, because we determine it for ourselves by our own doings. “In the book Life of Pi, by Yann Martel the main theme of the book is religion. The theistic view of existentialism can basically be summed up by this quote: "When we think of God as the creator, we are thinking of him, most of the time, as a supernal artisan” (Sartre Lecture). By this, they mean that theists view god as the all powerful creator. He created man with a specific idea in mind, and he knew what we would do and create. “God creates he knows precisely what he is creating” (Sartre, Lecture.) He knows the past, present, and future, and will not allow us to be defined by our human nature. Human nature was simply a side effect, to allow us to understand possibly why and how we are, but we can’t let it define ourselves as humans. Our intellect and creations define us as who we are, not our natural instinct. Therefore, we cannot blame something on instinct and human nature, because god did not create us to do that. He created us to innovate....
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