What Does Pi’s Journaling Say about the Person’s Need for Communication?
Is it possible to spend 227 days alone in the ocean? Is it possible to spend 227 days alone in the ocean on the same boat with a tiger? Is it possible to spend 227 days alone in the ocean with the tiger being sixteen years old? The answer will be mostly “no” or “it’s impossible.” The author of the book Life of Pi almost gives the instructions on how to do that. Yann Martel retells the story about a boy who survived a shipwreck, lost his parents, and faced hard times. The moments – he will never forget. The feelings – he will never experience again. While reading Life of Pi everyone goes through those difficult hours of the main character. Everyone believes that nothing bad will happen to him. But the ocean is rigorous and the tiger is not a domestic animal.
The story begins with an adult, telling about his childhood. His name is Pi Patel. When he was a child he lived in India with his family: mother, father, and elder brother. His father owned a zoo with many different animals in it. Pi thought that they are like people. He didn’t want to realize that all those animals are beasts of prey. Once, he even tried to feed a Bengal tiger Richard Parker, but thanks to his brother, he didn’t. Also Pi Patel described how he acquired his full name. His uncle liked to swim, and his favorite swimming pool was “Piscine Molitor Patel” in France (Martel, p. 6). That’s why he has such a strange name. Schoolmates were always teasing him, calling him “Pissing.” When the boy entered secondary school, he decided to shorten his name to “Pi” – as an irrational number in math. He learned this number and explained it in every class. After that everyone started to call him “Pi.” Also, being 14 years old, Pi tried to understand God, becoming an adherent of three religions. He tried to do that through Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. India became a difficult place to live for Piscine’s family, so his father decided to leave. He wanted to sell the zoo in Canada. So they departed to North America on the Japanese freighter with their animals and other people on board. Everything was fine until the storm, which caused a shipwreck.
Now, the sixteen year old boy is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean face to face with four wild animals. Pi is totally confused, and he sees how the hyena kills the orangutan and the zebra. And the biggest surprise for him was the tiger Richard Parker, which later eats the hyena. He starts to learn how to survive. Pi makes a small raft out of life jackets and oars. He finds the food supplies on the lifeboat.
Along with that there were pens and a survival manual. These two things help him to stay sane. He reads the instructions and follows them. Later he uses them as a journal. “I wrote as small as I could. I was afraid I would run out of paper” (Martel, p. 110). Pi writes everything in it, everything he feels, sees, and does. He describes every day spent in the ocean, everything he does during the day.
It helps him to communicate using words. it isn’t oral communication, but still, written communication is more than enough. Pi goes through very difficult times. Sometimes he feels that he will die. Other times he wants to live further and retell everyone this amazing story. Pi describes the tiger in his diary too. He writes about Richard Parker’s behavior and look. Also, Piscine pictures the environment around him, the weather and fish. He reveals a lot of new species every day, and gives a description of sharks and dolphins. A journal makes him busy at least for a few hours a day. But everything has its ending. It is the pens that run out. But Piscine is alive and doesn’t stop believing.
Belief is one of the main things that kept Pi alive during his trip. He never stopped believing in God. According to Gordon Houser, there are two main themes of the book: “that all life is interdependent, and that we live and breathe via belief” (p. 3). Pi didn’t give up. He was fighting for his life. It was making him stronger. He used everything he could to live the life. When Pi Patel found land, he hoped that Richard Parker became his friend, but unluckily, the tiger was just an animal. After a few days in the hospital, journalists came to see Pi. He told them what happened to him, but they didn’t believe what he said. So Pi told them another story – the one he created, the one they would like more. So Life of Pi, according to Yann Martel, can be summarized in three statements: “Life is a story… You can choose your story… A story with God is the better story” (Renton).
Martel, Y. (2001). Life of Pi. New York, NY: Knopf Canada.
Houser, G. (2003). The Life of Pi. Chicago, IL: The Christian Century.
Renton, J. (2013). Yann Martel Interview. Textualities.
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