Dealing With Multiple Realities: An Analysis of "Life of Pi" by Yann Martel.

Essay by amace840University, Bachelor'sA+, November 2005

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In the novel "Life of Pi", Yann Martel dichotomizes the perceptual realities, and psychological realities of Piscine Monitor Patel. Martel is insistent in not "sacrifice[ing] our imagination on the altar of crude reality"(Pi); and to do this, he sets forth in making us wonder whether we are reading an imaginative fiction, or a real life story. Written as a factual account, we are constantly reminded that Pi is alive and doing well in Montreal, but his story's credibility is also constantly held under speculation, with the far-fetched passages such as that of the algae island, and the blind sailor. The differences between facts and realities, fact and fiction, literalism and imagination, are themes that run throughout the novel. Pi deals with these oppositions, through his acceptance of co-existence of opposites. This is a theory, which Pi learns early in the novel, with his fascinating religious complexity. This is seen furthermore during his journey with Richard Parker, and finally with his more believable story he tells the Japanese officials at the end of the novel.

The ability for Pi to co-exist with opposites is first seen largely with the beginning of his spiritual journey. It was Pi's upbringing that led to the inevitable interest in seeking God. His mother was "neutral on the subject. A Hindu upbringing and a Baptist education had precisely cancelled each other out"(Pi 72). His father was a proclaimed atheist; and Pi being the curious young boy that he was, became interested in knowing God because of this situation. Pi is curious of the differences, but also the similarities of Hindu, Muslim, and Christian religions. He really feels that "God is universal"(Pi 75), and that "all religions are true"(Pi 76). The mockery of his brother, Ravi, and the disapproval of the "three wise men"(Pi 71), seems...