Life of Pi Archives
Thank you all for your comments and participation this week. Ana, did you get to finish? I've been wondering about your comment that Pi's narrative sounds too western. Can you expand on that?
As we head into the weekend, I wanted to look at Richard Parker a little more. Brent ! You beat me to it !!
Brent sees the tiger as God (comment 12 on Ahoy There thread) I was working on that same idea....really getting in to all the possibilities. But usually a Lion is used to represent the King. So why didn't Martel make him a lion? In Taoism - the Tiger is the symbol of Life, of Vital Energy. But Pi never goes near Taoist philosophy so perhaps I'm stretching too far on that...except Richard's presence does seem to be a sort of lifeforce for Pi.
Martel himself explains making RP a tiger was simply process of elimination: I took a while to decide what animal would be my main animal protagonist. At first I had an elephant in mind. The Indian elephant is smaller than the African, and I thought an adolescent male would fit nicely in the lifeboat. But the image of an elephant in a lifeboat struck me as more comical than I wanted. I changed to a rhinoceros. But rhinos are herbivores and I could not see how I could keep a herbivore alive in the high seas. And a constant diet of algae struck me as monotonous for both reader and writer, if not for the rhino. I finally settled upon the choice that in retrospect seems the obvious one: a tiger.
Personally I think the author wants us to speculate. Whether RP is Pi's alter ego, God, the Beast in us all, Life, Salvation, etc.... it is in our nature to endow animals with all sorts of mythology and personifications.
Or, if you really want to open another can of worms - read why Martel chooses RP for the tiger's name http://www.canongate.net/list/glp.taf?_n=2
I'll catch up with your final comments on Monday. Have a great weekend.
Mystery of the Algae Island
We all seemed to be puzzled by this peculiar episode so I thought we should work at trying to unravel it.
Here is one reviewer's opinion: "The realism that carried the reader in the erratic wake of the small boy and large tiger falters as they begin to waste away and die - and then the book gets seriously strange, with ghostly visitations and impossible islands, as though Martel wants not so much to test our credulity as entirely to annihilate it." from Justine Jordan, The Guardian Review.
Okay. Well, if Martel can entirely annihilate our credulity with a preposterous meat-eating algae island and then bring us, as readers, to believe "the better story" (the exceptionally implausible one) then he has shown (not told) us what it is to have Faith.
As a disconsolate skeptic, I still feel the impulse to dismiss the episode as an hallucinatory delusion of a dying boy. But Martel addresses that too. Somewhere in the story Pi says of atheists and agnostics - he has no trouble with atheists, but doesn't understand agnostics. Something about choosing doubt as a philosophy of life is like choosing immobility as a means of transportation.
What do you make of the island? Why does he put meerkats on it? Why not some other critter?
What if Seigfried and Roy had been on the raft?
Come back tomorrow - I've got a few parts of Richard Parker to chew on....
Hi Everybody. Sorry for the delay. But I'm back on board now so let's dive in, shall we? There is a deep pool of subject matter to keep our discussion swimming along. Feel free to float out any topics you wish to explore as we sail along...not that I'm fishing for ideas. Rather than skim the surface of what you liked or disliked, I'm just gonna plunge right in with...
The Life of Pi...a story that will make you believe in God. But it could also be called The Near Death of Pi. "...there is always a grinning skull at my side to remind me of the folly of human ambition. I mock this skull. I look at it and I say, "You've got the wrong fellow. You may not believe in life, but I don't believe in death. Move on!" The skull snickers and moves ever closer, but that doesn't surprise me. The reason death sticks so closely to life isn't biological necessity -- it's envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud."
Well, DANG! How does Pi remain so positive? He loses his home and family. Is that the thing or two of no importance? He loses over a year of his life stuck on a raft. Does survival qualify as living? His life is stripped down to the barest, ultimate minimum. He is reduced to primitive essentials. Seems the obvious source of his "will to survive" would have to be his faith, right? But PI is the one who figures out how to get all alpha with Richard and establish territory and dominance. PI is resourceful enough to adapt to his situation and engineer the materials at hand. All animals are hard-wired to survive. But death IS a biological necessity. Look at the extended suffering Pi endures...isn't that the folly of human ambition right there? So where is God? How is this story supposed to make you believe in God?
Barbara apologizes profusely about the lack of discussing going on over here, but she had a little password problem earlier in the day. It's all good now, so we'll get going on Life of Pi at some point tomorrow. See you then!