In chapter 61 to 62 Pi encounters an attack of a school of flying fish. Flying fish uses magical realism taking an everyday realistic object and adding a sense of fantasy. Yann Martel uses descriptive language to create a realistic scene. Many religious references are including throughout the chapter in describing the event of the flying fish. ‘I felt I was living the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian.’ Saint Sebastian was a Christian Martyr who survived by being executed by arrows and was therefore beaten to death. Likewise Pi is both pierced and battered by the flying fish. When catching the Dorado, Pi thanks Vishnu, who saved man in form of a fish in Hindu tradition. Pi is reminded of God’s bounty with the rainbow of the dying dorado just as Noah was reminded of God by the rainbow after the flood. The theme portrayed in the scene of flying fish is the role of religion and its importance and the quest for its meaning. Pi finds that the necessities of survival complicate his religious beliefs this is shown when Pi is confronted with killing a live fish, going against the Hindu belief of vegetarianism. “I had blood on my hands. It’s a terrible burden to carry. I never forget to include this fish in my prayers” p183 The fish scales represent ‘marks of colour that we Hindus wear on our foreheads as symbols of the divine’ The fish scales which stuck to his body illustrates the contradiction between Hindu rituals and the fight for survival.
Our interpretation of this section of the book is how Pi abandoned his beliefs and rituals in order to maintain his survival on the life boat.