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Survival in Yann Martel's Life of Pi Essay

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The saying “desperate times call for desperate measures” holds truth to an extent. In the award winning novel Life of Pi by Yann Martel, drastic measures are taken by characters in order to survive while stranded on a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean. Through his journey, main character, Pi Patel, endures many hardships and witnesses several deaths. Significantly, the death of the zebra accompanying Pi and the other animals establishes a generalization of human nature being sophisticated yet inherently vicious according to methods of survival. As the least threatening of the animals, the zebra has a connection to all of the organisms on the boat so its death causes mixed reactions. When the hyena kills the zebra, it does so in a…show more content…
Her final outreach in an attempt to survive was when she “hit the beast on the head with her…arm” (Martel 131). This startling action the orangutan produces is evidence that she has abandoned her passive nature when she witnesses the hyena’s brutal capabilities. Additionally, Pi, a passive character also, has violent thoughts toward the hyena after the zebra’s death because of his feeling of terror and need to survive. The death of the zebra provokes “intense hatred for the hyena” as Pi “[thinks] of doing something to kill it… [but does] nothing” (Martel 120). Pi’s reaction to the zebra’s death forms into bitter feelings for the hyena because the hyena inherently shows its true colors of savagery. However, the desire to survive prevents Pi from doing anything against the hyena because his “sense of empathy is blunted by a terrible, selfish hunger for survival” (Martel 120). This selfishness that Pi experiences is against his own moral beliefs, however he finds it necessary to look past his own morals because of his intense desire to live. Pi’s desires to abandon his beliefs and resort to violence stem from the scene of the zebra’s mutilation. Therefore, the cruel death of the zebra ignites a stronger desire to live from the other members on the boat and causes a shift in their own behaviors. The animal’s behaviors subsequent to the zebra’s death not only reflect animal instinct but portray human-like traits as well. In the story, the
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