In the book Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, the main character gets stranded in a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean with only his imagination to cope with. Piscine Molitor Patel, also known as Pi, uses a figure of his imagination to make a horrific situation better, by changing his perspective on the entire ordeal. When Pi gets isolated with his mother, a cruel cook, and an injured sailor, Pi transforms all of them into animals out of fear, disbelief and justification. Throughout Pi’s experience, he is very fearful. He is not only afraid of all the death cruelty around him, but of himself as well.
Pi states in the book, “I was filled with a mix of rapt admiration and abject fear” (308). Pi starts becoming very fearful and troubled as soon as the cook on board the lifeboat starts performing grotesque feats, such as amputating and eating the injured sailor’s leg, and eventually the sailor’s body once he died. It was the cook who also cut off his mother’s head and caused Pi to fear his own life being lost. Pi also started fearing himself as soon as he noticed the animal side of him develop. This is when he created the Bengal tiger, Richard Parker, as the animalistic and cruel side of himself.
When Pi had finally found land, he let Richard Parker go free because he was in civilization again and he would no longer need that side of him to obtain food and protect himself. Pi also creates the story involving animals as a way of disbelief. He was shocked at the experiences and trauma that he had on the lifeboat that he didn’t want to belief the reality of it. The reality being that the cook, or compared to as a hyena, aboard the lifeboat was a vicious and cruel being that killed and ate the injured sailor, and caused Pi to hold the capacitated head of his own mother.
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It was through these actions that caused Pi to murder the cook himself, which is when the tiger Richard Parker was born into Pi’s imagination. He did not want to believe the uncivilized behavior all around him, so he created a second, more natural scenario that involved everyone as animals instead because he did not believe that the reality of his adventure would be accepted by others. This was Pi’s way of coping and dealing with the pain, loss, and embarrassment he faced. The story replacing humans as animals, was a way for Pi to justify his actions.
Pi stated in the book, “Then we fought and I killed him” (310), which is a confession of murder. This confession is both really dangerous and embarrassing for Pi as he became civilized again. After Pi let his animalistic side leave, he needed a way to justify and explain why he committed murder. By changing everyone into animals and creating Richard Parker, Pi made himself sound like he took no part in any man slaughter. Confession of murder was also very dangerous because he could have been sentenced to jail as he was telling his traumatic tale to the two police officers.
If Pi hadn’t had a way to justify the actions he was taking in the lifeboat, he wouldn’t have found a way to cope and could have let himself die. It was through his justifications that he found comfort and longing to survive, which led him to stay alive for two hundred and twenty seven days in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Pi’s story including animals included much detail, causing the reader to develop reader repor, but in the end the more outrageous sounding story proved to be true.
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