18 November 2012
Pi Patel’s Means of Survival
When a person is stranded and fighting for their life, how they decide to use the resources and knowledge they have can be the difference between living and dying. In Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, Pi’s resourcefulness is what ultimately leads to his survival. Throughout the novel, three resources that Pi relies on are his life in India, Richard Parker, and faith in religion.
While growing up in India, Pi learns many valuable skills that he would later use to help him survive 227 days in the Pacific Ocean. The first of these skills is swimming. Ironically, Pi is the only one in his family ever to learn to swim. Pi describes learning to swim ...view middle of the document...
Pi learns to how practice Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam. Religion is a particular interest of Pi’s and he enjoys practicing it in many different ways. As Pi states in chapter 16, “A germ of religious exaltation, no bigger than a mustard seed, was left in me to germinate. It has never stopped growing since that day” (Martel 52). Once Pi starts practicing these religions he never stops, even when stranded in the middle of the ocean. Pi is able to continue practicing religion while he is stranded on the lifeboat. Religion keeps Pi alive in many ways; one of the main ways is that it keeps Pi mentally determined and willing to live.
In addition to his life in India, Pi uses Richard Parker as a way to help stay alive. The first way which Richard Parker helps Pi is he keeps Pi’s mind off the suffering he is going through. As Madhoo Kamra states in his article Yann Martel’s Life of Pi: A Gain of Phenomenal Self, “His relationship with Richard Parker shows his struggle to contact reality and brilliantly allows his subjectivity to drain away” (Kamra 2). This statement reiterates that it is because of Richard Parker that Pi is able to temporarily forget about all the other issues that he has to deal with such as gathering food, water, etc. This short break from reality helps keep Pi from going insane.
Not only does Richard Parker help keep Pi’s mind off of the immediate issues, but he also helps Pi forget about all the recent tragedies he has been through. When a person loses so many loved ones in such a short period of time, it can often lead to many mental issues such as depression. Pi recognizes Richard Parker’s role in helping him cope with what has happened when he states, “He kept me from thinking too much about my family and tragic circumstances. He pushed me to go on living” (Martel 182). In this quote, Pi emphasizes the fact that constantly needing to take care of Richard Parker is a useful way of keeping his mind off the recent tragedies in his life and keeps him from becoming depressed and losing his will to survive.
As well as keeping Pi’s mind off of his many issues, Richard Parker keeps Pi alert and aware of what is happening in Pi’s immediate surroundings. Pi realizes that this is an important factor to his survival when he states, “Survival starts by paying attention to what is close at hand and immediate” (Martel 186-187). In order to survive Pi realizes he must be alert to what is happening around him and be very careful with everything he does because one mistake can be the difference between life and death. Richard Parkers presence forces Pi to pay attention to what is happening and this helps keep Pi from becoming careless and making foolish mistakes.
Lastly, Richard Parker is a friend for Pi. Although Richard Parker is Pi’s biggest fear on the boat, he is also his only friend. Martel illustrates their friendship when he writes, “A part of me did not want Richard Parker to die at all, because if he died I...