Life of Pi Symbolism

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Karanvir Dhami Ms. Yu ENG3U March 7, 2011 Symbolism in Life of Pi In Life of Pi there are many literary devices used to present the different themes in the novel. The main literary device used in Life of Pi is symbolism. Symbolism is often used to represent an object to something else, either by association or by resemblance. Most of the names of animals, objects and even humans in this novel have a symbolic meaning. In Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, symbolism such as pi’s name, the colour orange and the algae island, are used throughout the novel to provide Pi with protection to help him either survive or overcome his emotional pain. The mathematical pi is undefined, infinite and unable to be understood, just like Piscine Patel. Piscine’s nickname is Pi and it has a symbolic relationship with the mathematical pi. Pi is sixteen when he is shipwrecked, and pi is also the sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet. Not only is the mathematical pi symbolic towards Pi, but it also provided him protection from school. Many of Pi’s classmates made fun of his full name and called him names such as “Pissing Patel”. When Pi transferred to a new school he took the first available opportunity to use his nick name, with “that Greek letter that looked like a shack … *Pi+ found refuge” (Martel, ). This nickname allowed him to find the protection from the bullying he would have got if he had used his actual name. The Greek letter symbolizes the roof the nickname has placed over Pi emotionally. Before the nickname was being used all his former classmates new him as only as

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“Pissing Patel”. They did not give him an opportunity to become anything else. But when his nickname was inserted his opportunity do things was expanded infinitely, because he had no emotional burden. This infinite potential that Piscine has developed by adapting the name of Pi is just like the mathematical symbol of pi which is infinite and never ending. The algae island was an island Pi

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