The Life of Pi, a Religious Metaphor

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The Life of Pi, a Religious Metahor
By: Yann Martel

In the Life of Pi, Yann Martel, through the main character in the book, Pi, makes the following statement, “I know zoos are no longer in people’s good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both.”

In the world today, zoos have come under scrutiny because of their practices of illegally trapping animals and caging them for profit. The animal rights movement across the world has brought more focus on this practice, claiming that these captured animals have lost their freedom and many are unable to live in their original habitats. Many people are also finding religion to be restrictive and are becoming disillusioned with their faith. Some religions, especially in Islamic countries that are ruled by religious extremist, have strict laws based on their religion that take away many of their citizen’s freedoms. Even in some Christian and Hindu societies people sometime feel that religion is encroaching into their governments and their freedoms.

Yann Martel uses symbolism to emphasize these points in his book. Many parallels can be made between the events that take place in Pi’s adventure and historical religious events. The author also uses places and an animal to symbolize the three religions that he practices: Islamism, Hinduism and Christianity.

Pi is shipwrecked on a boat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. The tiger symbolizes Pi’s original religion of Hinduism and the tiger’s orange color is the color of the Hindu religion. While Pi was on the life boat trying to keep the tiger from heating him, Pi stated “It was Richard Parker who calmed me down. It is irony of the story that the one who scared me witless to start with was the very same who brought me peace, purpose, I dare say even wholeness.” Around Richard Parker, Pi had very little freedom and was always working to keep the tiger from getting angry.

Pi spent 227 days in a life boat at sea and...
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