This essay compares the use of fiction versus non-fiction, and the concept of Story, in Life of Pi by Yann Martel and The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson. It also dicussed the relationship of the texts the the author's background, and how their intentions to connect to the audience can produce "the better story".
The Concept of Story in Life of Pi and Thunderbolt Kid 3
The Concept of Story in Life of Pi and The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid
In CS Lewis's essay On Stories, Lewis argues that not enough attention is given to the actual concept of Story; many will analyze the details and dig up symbolism, and while these may be useful in finding ...view middle of the document...
Of no coincidence, Pi lives in India, where there are many animals and many different religions. Specifically, Pi lives in Pondicherry, a town near the coast, once the capital of
The Concept of Story in Life of Pi and Thunderbolt Kid 4
French India. The diversity of Pondicherry enables Pi to come in contact with Christianity and Islam, making him part-Christian, part-Mulsim, and part-Hindu. Pi's practice of these three religions speaks of universal faith, and that all religions lead back to love.
Life of Pi takes place during a time in India known as the Emergency, when controversial prime minister Indira Gandhi called for a state of emergency due to "internal disturbances". Under this state of emergency, the constitutional setup is altered, and, due to this political instability, Pi's father decides to move the family to Canada (Martel's home).
Before writing Life of Pi, Martel spent years researching zoos and animal behavior, giving Pi an authenticity many mistake for reality. Pi, raised as a zookeeper's son, know just about anything and everything there is to know about animal psychology, often comparing the actions of humans versus animals. Pi's parallel story specifically assigns certain animals to certain characters, describing the exotic sailor as the zebra, Pi's mother as the maternal orangutan, and the cannibalistic cook as the ferocious hyena.
Pi's alter ego is a Royal Bengal Tiger, who is majestic and noble, but can also be ferocious and savage. Pi notes that "without Richard Parker, I wouldn't be alive today to tell you my story" (Martel, 2001). Though Richard Parker could have easily slaughtered Pi, Pi found solace in his company. Catching food and training Richard Parker occupied Pi's thoughts and time, and had Pi been alone on the lifeboat, he would have had nothing to do but dwell and despair on his fate. In Pi's parallel version of his story, Richard Parker plays his alter ego, giving a young, religious, vegetarian boy the
The Concept of Story in Life of Pi and Thunderbolt Kid 5
strength to survive. At first, Pi could barely stand to kill a small fish; without the animal instinct of Richard Parker, he wouldn't have been able to catch and kill his own food, let alone kill the cook before the cook killed him.
Pi's entire story leads back to the question: Which story is the better story? Is it better to have a factually-true story, or an emotionally-true story? C.S. Lewis stated that "[the story] may not be 'like real life' in the superficial sense: but it sets before us an image of what reality may well be like at some more central region." (Lewis, 1982). The feels that the animal story is better, even thought both tell of the same events. Pi's story without animals is cold, dry, and fills the reader with horror. Using animals to represent humans is not only felt as more acceptable, but helps the reader to connect more emotionally. In the "true" story, even though they are all very...