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“To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing
immobility as a means of transportation” (Yann Martel 1.7.21). In Yann Martel’s
novel Life of Pi, Piscine Patel finds himself trapped after a terrible
shipwreck on a lifeboat with a 450-pound tiger on board. Being born and raised
in India, Pi has a different mindset than the average North American which
greatly assists him on his journey. For Pi, survival is a must, since he is the
sole remaining individual of his family. Throughout the story, Pi puts all his
strength and ingenuity in keeping himself alive, at times revealing his
underlying character. This is expressed by losing his innocence, belief in G-D
and the struggle with Richard Parker, the tiger. On the surface Life of Pi is just another story of a shipwreck survivor, however, the word
survival cannot adequately describe Pi’s journey through the sea. In Life of
Pi, Yann Martel uses indirect characterization to represent how the toughest
experiences can bring out the truest identity of man. Pi learns that survival
requires sacrifice which includes physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
  Pi must endure through tough times while floating on the vast ocean.
Even with India’s enormous population, no one was out to kill him for food, most
people didn’t even know who he was. In Pi’s household, he did not have to deal
with the nourishment portion of his life. People were treated as if they were animals in a zoo.
Everyone worked together and only during really rough times, was there a scarce
amount of food. Predictably in a novel about a shipwreck survivor, Pi now truly
must find his own food and water. Ironically being on a lifeboat, Pi is
surrounded by water, being too salty to drink and fish, which are too swift to hook. Pi consistently struggles to catch a fish or turtle, at the same time he must
gather water from the solar stills. Now surviving on the open ocean, not being able
to see land for miles, Pi must suffer terrible factors and events in order to
be rewarded with satisfaction. Factors such as lack of much fluids, gigantic
waves, ocean storms, sharks, drowning and sunstrokes all pose a threat to his
life. Being a smart man his ingenuity and imagination enable him to continue
being physically safe. But the one aspect he has never encountered before is
living on a lifeboat with a frightening, hungry tiger, Richard Parker. Pi’s
companion during his journey on the lifeboat is a 450-pound Bengal tiger,
Richard Parker. Distinct from many other stories in which the authors portray
animals as humans, Yann Martel depicts Richard Parker as an actual ferocious tiger. Captured as a baby, Parker was raised in a zoo and knows nothing else than life in human
captivity. He is accustomed
to man training and feeding
him, so he isn’t as intimidated from Pi. Pi claims that Richard Parker refrains
from eating him because Parker identifies Pi as the alpha
male. Growing up surrounded by animals in a zoo and educated by his father on the danger and power they pose, Pi is prepared with much information on animal
behaviour. Still, he is no
compliant house cat. Although being tamed, he still acts instinctively, swimming for the lifeboat
and killing the hyena for food. There are a small number of times when Richard
Parker acts through impulses. Near the conclusion of the book, he murders all
the pretty little Meerkats. Pi notices Richard Parker sizing him up, actively debating his next move which makes Pi more afraid. The tiger even fights a
live shark and these scenes are read just as a little boy watching an aggressive tiger. “Richard Parker turned and started clawing the shark’s head with his free front paw and biting it with his jaws, while his rear
legs began tearing at its stomach and back. …. Richard Parker’s snarling
was simply terrifying.” (2.79.6) Nevertheless, Richard Parker is
frightening, ironically keeping Pi company helps him remain alive.
Overwhelmed by the conditions and scared of death, Pi becomes troubled and incapable to move
forward. Yet he soon understands that his greatest threat is Richard Parker.
Forgetting his other obstacles, Pi survives through numerous tests he has done with Parker. He fishes the
fish and gives some to Richard Parker
to prevent being eaten after it is only them two remaining. This accomplishment gives him self-assurance, making
his other problems viewed
as easier. But Pi Isn’t just afraid of Richard Parker, for him Parker is viewed as spring of beauty. All through the flying
fish scene, Pi watches fish hurdle onto
the lifeboat. While ineffectively
attempting to gather
them, he gazes upon Richard Parker
eating effortlessly. When the two wash up on the shore of Mexico, Pi thanks the
tiger for keeping him alive. Yet, Richard Parker doesn’t draw out his parting
with Pi, he simply runs off into the jungle, never to be seen again. Pi is a
clever man who is able to push himself towards guaranteeing his continuous
presence. Caring and feeding Richard Parker passes
the time and keeps him full of
activity. Had Richard Parker
not been onboard to challenge and
divert his attention, Pi might have surrendered his life to the ocean. While journeying out on the sea tested Pi’s physical well-being,
his mental and spiritual state of mind were the most
confronted. Pi experiences the toughest challenges a human mind can endure,
ultimately losing his weak and frail personalities. His pen and journal kept his genuine mind sane and healthy, while a belief in something greater lead the ambition for his survival. Originally Piscine
Patel grew up in
a family of calm and collective people, he finds himself beginning to lose his
innocence when he is forced to commit deeds of great gruesomeness. It begins
when he is needed to kill the fish, “I heard a cracking sound and I no longer
felt any life fighting in my hands…The flying fish was dead.” (Martel 203). Not
eating meat until this period in his life displays Pi’s loss of innocence since
he is constrained into no longer following his vegetarian views. When a person
alters a main philosophy of his life, it affects a person on a level that is
unclear for the human eye. Near the end of the book Pi decides to tell the
Japanese transport officials two stories, one true and one made up. In the
first one he had told of him fighting with a hyena that he eventually had to
kill. The second story is far more interesting in that Martel depicts the hyena
as the French cook who he was forced to kill since he had killed Pi’s mother.
In this made up tale Pi is faced with a decision that he cannot turn his back
to, the cook killed his mother, he threw away all his beliefs and murdered the man.
Even though he killed out of self-defence innocence is entirely gone.

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