Cut Off From Reality:
An analysis of Pi’s exile in Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Edward Said, a Palestinian American literary theorist and cultural critic, has written that “Exile is strangely compelling to think about but terrible to experience. It is the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted.” But Said has also proclaimed that exile can become “a potent, even enriching” experience. In Martel’s Life of Pi, Pi’s experience of exile is both alienating and enriching, just what Said has described it as. It turned out to be a terrifying experience that taught lessons of survival, reason, faith, and acceptance. Pi begins to realize that he and Richard Parker are the only survivors of the sunken ship, and his survival mode takes a few days to kicks in. “I was alone and orphaned, in the middle of the Pacific, hanging on an oar, an adult tiger in front of me, sharks beneath me, a storm raging about me” (133). He knows he is alone with a 450-pound Bengal tiger, and that’s all he can think about. When survival mode kicks in, he begins to search the lifeboat for supplies and food that he would need in order to survive. Pi also realizes that he must make it clear to Richard Parker that he is the alpha male on the lifeboat in order for his life to be spared by the incredible cat. Pi is extremely alienated from all things on this lifeboat. Obviously he is alienated from his homeland while being stranded on a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. He is also alienated from his family, seeing as they have all drowned from the ship sinking. He has never been stranded on a boat before. He has no idea what to do. Everything he has been accustomed to at his home on land no longer applied to his life now on the ocean. As Said had said, the sadness of being exiled could never be surmounted. Pi felt this sadness. “That second night at sea stands in my memory as one...
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