The Challenges in Yann Martel's Life of Pi Essay

Decent Essays

Bengali polymath, Rabindranath Tagore, once said “you can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” In the novel Life of Pi by Yann Martel, the protagonist, Pi, faces many challenges at sea while being accompanied by a tiger by the name of Richard Parker. This tiger, though a nuisance, proves to be essential in the role of Pi’s survival. Throughout the story, Richard Parker symbolizes survival, a reflection of Pi, and a being of God.
Although it is not obvious at first, the large threat of a tiger on board blends into a symbol of survival for Pi. Though Richard Parker is a large issue for Pi, he is not the only issue being faced. Issues such as lack of food, scarce drinking water, and no sense of direction also …show more content…

Therefore, many aspects of the tiger like his relationship with Pi and his physical attributions give Pi incentive to stay alive during his long journey.
Though Richard Parker proves vital for survival, he also reflects Pi’s character and helps further develop it throughout the novel. When first introduced, Pi was a teenaged boy curious in many different belief systems and also vegetarian. However, his experience with this tiger aboard a lifeboat after a shipwreck leads to necessary changes in Pi’s lifestyle and these dramatic changes in way of life are characterized through the tiger itself. For example, Richard Parker instinctively tears at animals and eats them in a barbaric manner in means of survival. Though Pi is disgusted by his animal-like behavior, he later resorts to the same methods of eating, “noisy, frantic, unchewing wolfing-down…exactly the way Richard Parker ate” for his own survival (Martel 225). As a previous vegetarian, Pi is not comfortable with the idea of killing animals to eat them but realizes “it is simple and brutal: a person can get used to anything, even to killing” (Martel 185). He even, later, uses human flesh from a passenger that Richard Parker killed for means of survival and food. He also kills birds by “[breaking] its neck [and] leveraging [their] heads backwards”, a harsh and violent murder (Martel 231). Pi’s ability to adapt to a more vicious yet necessary way of life reveals his inner animal

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