Yann Martel's 'How To Read Literature Like A Professor'

Decent Essays

In the beginning, God created the Earth. He created the land, the sea, the sky, and all that live among them. In Yann Martel’s Life of Pi a young boy named Pi Patel encounters the Earth in its rawest form when he is stranded at sea with only a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker and a handful of other animals as shipmates. Through the use of biblical allusion, the significance of water, and symbolism, Life of Pi shows readers that God is present in all things and through faith, one can overcome all trials. In Thomas C. Foster’s How to Read Literature Like a Professor, he remarks, “Most of the great tribulations to which human beings are subject are detailed in Scripture” (Foster 51). This is certainly true of Pi’s “great tribulation.” His entire …show more content…

There are many instances in Pi’s story in which symbolism plays an important role in communicating meaning to readers. At the end of the novel, Pi reveals to Japanese investigators a story that details his journey of survival that replaces the animals with humans. In this retold story, Richard Parker is replaced by Pi. The idea of Pi and Richard Parker being one and the same indicates that a part of Richard Parker is present in Pi’s true character. Pi makes this comment on fear: “It is a clever, treacherous adversary...It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy” (Martel 161). This description of fear sounds an awful lot like how one could describe a feral tiger. Richard Parker, then, is symbolic of Pi’s fear and of how he is able to eventually control it. Another example of symbolism is the lifeboat. The lifeboat, his salvation from the perils of sea, is symbolic of his faith in God. He clings to the lifeboat when he is in need just as he clings to God in his time of dire need. The boat, and therefore his faith, is what eventually carries him to safety. Richard Parker and the lifeboat are examples of symbolism that reveal hidden aspects of Pi’s true

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