Jackie's Reviews > Life of Pi

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
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Nov 29, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: fiction, india, religion, world, orphans-and-runaways, death-dying-grief
Read from December 02, 2011 to January 02, 2012

** spoiler alert ** The "moral" of The Life of Pi pissed me off so much that it detracted significantly from my overall impression.

I enjoy a good story. I am capable of doing so without PRETENDING that I believe that it is true. The very idea that anyone would believe in God simply because it's a better story blows my mind.

First and foremost, that idea presupposes that we can choose to believe something we know to be false. In the first part of the book, Pi becomes devoted to three religions. I'm not familiar with Hinduism, but I know the other two each have a central tenant stating that they are the one true religion. So right for the start we have Pi saying that he believes in three things that by definition cannot all be true. To actually hold three religions is to admit that you don't really believe they are true. I kept wondering, with the same fascination that I, as an atheist, always hold toward religious stories, about how he was going to resolve that conflict. And it turns out that the resolution was completely half-assed and insincere. Believing is fun.

And second it assumes that God is a better story, which shows a complete lack of fascination and/or appreciation for the natural world. Even on the very surface, this one story, that idea proves questionable at best. I did enjoy the story with animals. It was a fascinating story. And given the telling and by comparison, the alternative story did sound awfully plain and possibly too terrible for a person to live with. But certainly it was not uninteresting, and given a better telling, it probably would have been a superior story as human interactions, particularly in extreme circumstances are more relateable than tigers and zebras. I recently read Unbroken and was captivated by the lost-at-sea portion of that book, despite a lack of tigers, which proves that you don't need tigers to tell a lost-at-sea story that people want to read.

There is a statement in the introduction about how this is a story to make atheists into believers, (with the subtle hint that the author doesn't believe that atheists are sincere) which can be totally reversed. What this story demonstrated is that some believers only believe because they prefer a magical story (or can't deal with reality), which is to say that they don't really believe at all.
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