The Life of Pi
by: Yann Martel
Start: 18. April 18
Goodreads Reading Challenge: 19 out of 50
POPSUGAR reading challenge: A book set in a country that fascinates you
I can see why this book has won awards. It was so hard to put down. The book was told in three parts: Life before the shipwreck, during, and after. In the first part we get a sense of who Pi Patel really is. He is smart, sweet, caring, an animal lover, and is very much absorbed in being engulfed in the love of God. So much so that he practises three different religions: Hindu, Islam, and Christianity, at the same time much to his parents chagrin. Life during the wreck is more fantastical. Pi, being the true son of a zoo keeper, wants to save the life of Richard Parker. Richard Parker is a four hundred and fifty pound, male, bengal tiger that he convinces to jump aboard his life boat. The only life boat. After which he jumps out of the boat because he realizes how crazy that was.
From that point on he recounts his two hundred and twenty-seven days lost on the Pacific Ocean. The last part is the sad part, which is also the philosophical part. Two men from the shipping company ask for his account of the events. They are trying to determine what went wrong and if there were any other survivors. Pi tells them the fantastical story of the tiger, that we get to read in part two, and they don’t believe him. They ask for “just the facts,” and he replaces all the animals with people from the boat. Still making him the sole survivor. What happens to the other people makes the third part the saddest part, but it also brings up the question “what really happened?”
I believe that there are three ways to answer that question.
The first version is the true version, animals and all. The only reason a second version exists is two appease the two Japanese men with all their questions.
Could’ve happened, although very unlikely.
The second version is the true version. The only reason the first version exists is because he doesn’t want to get in trouble for what happened. He believes if he feigns an event with animals then there will be no repercussions.
Very much unlike his character, but he is the narrator. So, he could be tricking us, but I find this improbable.
The second version is the true version of events but he truly believes in the first. He has spent two hundred days stranded on the ocean in a life boat. So, he suffered from dehydration, malnourished, and sun stroke. He most likely hallucinated the animals to cope with the seriousness of the situation.
This final hypothesis is the one I favor. I think after reading the book cover to cover that this is what happened. As much as I would love the first version to be true I’m leaning towards the third outcome, not because it couldn’t be true but because of how easily the second story came to him. He didn’t hesitate long to “invent” this other version. It took a beat and it flowed right out of him. That tells me that there is more to it.
He believes that there was a tiger as his travel companion so that is the version that is true to him. The rest of the world believes either the second or the third reasoning, so that is the version that is true to them. The philosophical part is simple. If two different parties truly belive in two different answers, and there is no possible way to dispute it, are they both right? Or are they both wrong? Either way the book is phenomenal, and I think by reading it you will be changed.