How to Discover Life's Wealthy Details and Avoid the Bar of Stereotypes in Religion

Literary Analysis: "Life of Pi" of Yann Martel

Literature Review, 2010

3 Pages

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How to Discover Life's Wealthy Details and Avoid the Bar of Stereotypes in Religion

Yann Martel has said in one interview, “The theme of this novel can be summarized in three lines. Life is a story. You can choose your story and a story with an imaginative overlay is the better story .” Life of Pi“ is a true fiction which describes a story about a 16 year s old boy, who faced gigantic struggles on an open sea, and his meditation, faith, art of life that is as much thoughtful as it is deep. In his book, Yann Martel sets up a spiritual adventure that crafts for us a question, how to avoid the bar of stereotype in our lives and prejudiced view of different faith.

Growing up in a small place of Pondicherry, India, Pi had a wonderful life. His family had a zoo and spent most of their time taking care of wildlife under their protection. On the other hand Young Pi, being fascinated with the world, had been wildly exploring the wisdom of religions, looking for an answer to the questions that could satisfy his inquisitiveness.

He was a happy kid and was loved by his parents despite the dilemma that not only required them to accept their son’s spiritual exploration but also trusting in soundness of practicing Hindu, Islam and Christianity, three so different religions. Pi was experiencing different approaches to his religious life. For example Christianity, despite common opinions in his region of being strict and severe, turns out to be a religion where he learned how to be loved and treated with respect despite his age. “He served me tea and biscuits” and “He treated me like a grown-up”. He was inspired by the man who showed him the very foundation of the Christian faith, “He was a man whose profession it was to love”. Analyzing Pi’s first personal encounter with the Christian priest, I personally feel the encouragement in his ability to question a man about the religion without being judged. Edward E. Hindson said, ” We are not to judge the inner motives of another. We are not to render a verdict based upon prejudiced information.” Pi believes that God speaks through people and their acts, and I agree with that. In my opinion Pi would have a hard time to find common ground to many contradicting theological principles in those three religions, not to mention the differences in interpreting the historical facts to build his spiritual values only on doctrines; instead he focused on virtues those religions imprint on their believers. I personally received a wonderful help from young people whose religion has a different name than my religion. They painted my deck last summer knowing that my husband could not help me because of unforeseen circumstances in his life that forced him to depart his family. As thanks I designed and created a handmade wreath that is going to be hung in their church for Christmas.

In a difficult political atmosphere that was happening at the time in India, Pi and his family decided to move to Canada. On the way to Canada the ship that was transporting them suddenly sinks with Pi’s family, and their dreams run on with it. Only Pi survives, put out in a lifeboat with animal companions: a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena, and a tiger named Richard Parker. At that moment Pi began his powerful trial of faith, will to live and to survive the 227-day voyage across the Pacific.

During the reading I was very fascinated by the one of the smallest chapters in which I have found the quote:” The lower you are, the higher your mind will want to soar.”(Martel 283)

Up to this point in the book, Pi’s miserable life at sea has been highlighted with periodic activities like killing fish or creating drinkable water by using the solar still etc. However all the innovation has ended and Pi felt totally hopelessness, but he had to continue living. At that point of hopelessness Pi chose to continue his existence despite of everything and turned to God, the only remaining source of his salvation.

Right away after his commitment, Pi lands on a beach in Mexico and comes out as a hero from his agony. I call this situation sa miracles , and I do believe that they happened in the most difficult to maneuver situation in the life, like this of Pi.

What in the story moved me on? Faith and religion is my favorite part of the book. I spend some time in New York City being surrounded by a lot of religions from all over the world. Today I keep saying that if I still have a chance to show to my kids everything what is the best in different cultures and religions I would do it, following Pi’s example.

Our modern world is very efficient in controlling our life, telling us what to do to be successful. However, no matter how elaborated and undetectable influence on our social and individual life is, the true nature of existence has its way to correct itself, it lies beyond all our attempts to predict it, manipulate it, and control it. In the entire Pi story there are no clear answers to the questions. Some have no answer at all, but those kinds of questions are in everybody’s life. They stay with us and continue to follow us. To some we find answer with time, to some maybe never because we pick the wrong choice and did not allow our dire situation to unveil itself. Worldly technology and knowledge is not wrong, but Godly wisdom is more powerful for sure. Just because the world may be more advanced that does not change the wisdom of God, one bit. As a matter of fact the more knowledgeable we are the more Godly wisdom we need, to know what to do with the knowledge that we have been given.

“So tell me, since it makes no factual difference to you and you can’t prove the question either way, which story do you prefer? Which is the better story, the story with animals or the story without animals? Mr. Okamoto said, ” That’s an interesting question…” Mr. Chiba: ” The story with animals.” Mr.Okamoto: ” Yes. The story with animals is the better story.” Pi Patel: ” Thank you. And so it goes with God.” (Martel 317)

We make those choices every day either believing in God and benefits from it by receiving help in most unexpected way and do not believe in God and explain all of it by the mere chance and human intellect. Nobody in the world can prove any of those things; however I do believe that the choices that we make gave us the best answer. Moreover, taking under consideration the statements of one of the greatest scientist of human existence, Pascal Blaise, the question of live true nature surely became more complicated. Pascal said,” Either God exists or he does not. You must bet one way or another. If God exists then you could lose at most finite pleasure. If you win, you win every thing; if you lose, you lose nothing. Do not hesitate then; gamble on His existence.”

The significance of religion within Martel’s novel is just like that of fiction: use metaphor, simile, allusion, imagery, and hyperbole to help us understand and live with the realities of human existence.

Worked Cited

Edward,E.Hindson.”Liberty Bible Commentary,pg.1901

Murphy, Gorge.”Creation’s symmetries God’s mystery; Blaise Pascal pioneered in Math and physics but drew faith from revelation above.”Christian History 21.4(2002) Academia One File.Web.30Oct.2010.

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How to Discover Life's Wealthy Details and Avoid the Bar of Stereotypes in Religion
Literary Analysis: "Life of Pi" of Yann Martel
English121 Composition I
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discover, life, wealthy, details, avoid, stereotypes, religion, literary, analysis, life, yann, martel
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Jolanta Letowska (Author), 2010, How to Discover Life's Wealthy Details and Avoid the Bar of Stereotypes in Religion, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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