Lions, Tigers, and Bears, Oh my!
November 2, 2015
Life of Pi is like a juicy, ripe onion; you must relentlessly peel it back, layer by layer at a time, in order to fully appreciate the depth and complexity it has to offer.
Like an onion, it’ll make you cry too.
I hungrily devoured the novel within two short weeks; it traveled with me, clutched tightly in my hand, regardless of whether I was on my way to the grocery store or sitting in a Starbucks booth sipping a latte. The point is, I constantly craved more; I could not force myself to set it down. Martel has effortlessly managed to create an alternative universe that I found myself being sucked into it using nothing more than extensive detail, an intricate plot, and a developed protagonist. You have a boy, a lifeboat, and a Bengal tiger. Although this storyline may seem unrealistic at first glance, Martel writes with such convincing detail that the disbelief you may have previously experienced soon becomes both irrelevant and fastidious.
If anything, this is the novel that can make the impossible seem possible.
There is a miracle present on every page, hidden within each paragraph, that teaches us the importance of having something to believe in.
I found it extremely difficult not to completely dissect the novel sentence by sentence as I read it, considering how each carefully selected word and meticulously placed comma held immense purpose. My own novel proudly displays the evidence of this: multiple dog ears, a sea of yellow highlighters, and mountains of annotations cascading off one another in the margins.
Life of Pi centers around the survival of Pi, a young boy, after a tragedy occurs and leaves him shipwrecked in the middle of the vast ocean. For him, the light at the end of the tunnel is ironically the tiger he ends up being trapped with. The novel examines the harsh realities of human nature while simultaneously exploring the connection between faith and science, the duality of symbolism, and the importance of religion.
Although the pacing of the novel is slow at times and some particular scenes are dragged out using unnecessary detail, the reader is granted the privilege of witnessing the metamorphosis of Pi as he evolves from a naive teenage boy into a wise, intelligent young man. We are with Pi as he experiences moments of tragedy and triumph. We are with Pi as he struggles to survive. And we are with Pi as he optimistically glances out over the horizon brimming with a newfound sense of hope. We are with Pi through it all, so as the novel progresses – it becomes increasingly difficult not to feel a special connection with him as he experiences difficulties. As Pi resides on the lifeboat and sails on open waters, he is symbolically beginning his journey into the open waters of both life and self-discovery.
The novel effortlessly teaches its readers that the most important thing you can do in life is believe in something, whether that something is religion or even just yourself. The conclusion of the novel further confirms the profundity and intricateness of the plot; it is a book you must read and examine with tenacity in order to fully appreciate everything it has to offer. Life of Pi is a book that will remain with me throughout my years, its impact both significant and ceaseless. Within its 319 pages bursting with eloquent metaphors and symbolic patterns, it has managed to completely alter my perception of life itself. I have learned the relevance of faith and the importance of ultimately choosing “the better story.” Some stories just happen to have tigers in them.