Unreliable Narrator in Life of Pi
Life of Pi is told in first person and because he is the only narrator, readers see what he does; the problem is, Pi’s reactions and over simplistic method of analyzing events are unrealistic. When readers find the narrator’s voice to be unrealistic, they question the book’s validity and in turn the author’s point in creating a character that is untrustworthy. There are many, many examples in the Life of Pi where Pi forces us to step out of the pages and twist our heads in a position that signals “really?” I argue that Pi is an unreliable narrator and because of that, the book is not represented as well as it could have been if the story was told from a third person omniscient point of view.
The first section of the book is positioned to force the readers to believe in God, but which one? Since Pi believes in three religions at once, we see him as not fully committed to one. Pi is projecting his unreliable quality by believing, whole heartedly, that he can continue living with three religions. Even his mother tries to convince him that multiple regions is not realistic when she says, “if you’re going to be religious, you must either be a Hindu, a Christian, or a Muslim” (p. 73). It is unrealistic that three religions would be comfortable with him serving each. Pi has disregarded the commandment, “Don’t Worship any other God” that is the backbone of Christianity. Because of his desire to worship many religions, he in turn forces the three religious figures to argue for his faith. Pi is unreliable in that he cannot choose one religion despite knowing having multiple religions is a “no-no”.
Another place where Pi proves to be an unrealistic storyteller is when the ship sinks. He waits in the life boat thinking, “the night vanished as quickly as the ship” (p.111). In fact, he tells a sea turtle, “go tell a ship I’m here” (p.123). His entire family, all his animals, all the crew, all the other passengers, and the huge ship...
Cited: Martel, Yann. Life of Pi. New York: Harcourt, Inc., 2001. Print.
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