Life of Pi Life of Pi discussion


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Kris Ditto.


Emily Rule Thank you! I also believe the first story. I think the second was not to appease the media, but to cast doubts into the readers mind to give the book more depth. I totally believe in the first one, though. There WAS a richard parker.


Sarah Were the teeth in the tree a metaphor?


Little First of all: about the teeth in the tree, see the discussion entitled "What's the idea behind the island?" Lots of people posted lots of good comments.
Also: Argh! Neither story is true! "Which story do you believe?" is the silliest discussion to have about a work of fiction. Both stories are equally false. The interesting part is not what you believe, but why you want to believe it. You know you are selecting which lie you like best, so you must have a reason for prefering it. Why do you want to believe a lie about taming a wild animal to survive against the odds rather than a lie about committing great sins to survive against the odds?


Fiona Lapham Well said! This is the best comment I've read in these discussions!


Susan I'm not sure I agree that "both stories are equally false," but I do think it's significant how badly readers (or at least I did) want to believe Pi's story - even though it gets more and more fantastic. So here's something I discovered - there are several Richard Parkers besides Pi's. Notably, Edgar Allan Poe has a character named Richard Parker in his novella Pym (ie The Narrative of A. Gordon Pym of Nantucket). This RP suggests cannabalism as a way to survive after a shipwreck. What do you think Martel is doing w/ that?


Paige LITTLE said:
The interesting part is not what you believe, but why you want to believe it.

This comment intrigued me because the book discusses religion and God and I am now thinking about how this comment about how both stories are equally false could play into that aspect of the book.
What is the author saying about that subject?



message 8: by Annalisa (last edited Aug 27, 2008 01:08PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Annalisa Paige,
In my opinion, if you want to believe the first story you want to believe in faith and if you want to believe the second story you want to believe in science. Having said that, I want to believe the second story because I like to believe in allegories. They are just way more fun to tear apart. As Little said, the island discussion really is wonderful if you want some thought-provoking analysis.


Niral We, it's not quite that it's "science versus faith!!!1one1" but it's believing versus agnosticism, indecision. Pi calls it a leap of faith, which is what I would like to refer to having total faith is. It is a risk. No one knows if its right, and due to the inherent mystery and nature of God, you can't really know. It's not something one is able to really totally prove, on either side of it, religious versus atheistic (remember that Pi proclaims that he considers atheism a true faith, not true as in it is correct, but true as in it qualifies as one). Both take the same jump, whereas the agnostic sits on the edge and waits for facts and proof that won't come.

So if you sit and wait for proof of one side or another, which side of the story is correct, you are waiting for evidence to something that has inadequate proof, is what he is trying to say, like faith. I, of the Hindu religion, believe the first to be true; it's like a leap of faith.

I did not understand the island. I ripped apart the entire book mentally and figured out a bunch for school, but I dunno if the island is actually a metaphor to something. The teeth in the tree mean that the island, while having life and looking great, seems to be nothing more than a trap to the unwary. Is it just something simply to entertain the reader or is it some sort of symbol? A possibly plausible solution- the island eats all men that stay on it too long. It is also uncharted. Could it perhaps be uncharted BECAUSE few men have escaped from it? The Japanese men do not choose to believe its existence at the end of the book because they demand proof of something that inherently cannot be proved Like an agnostic might.



message 10: by Al- (new) - rated it 2 stars

Al- Susan: I am glad for the info on Richard Parker. The name (and Pi's) are really the only thing that is rolling around in my brain from this book. I'm thinking that the name must have some historical/legendary context that would bring more meaning to the charachter if only I knew. But, I have been too lazy to go looking. Now I will have a reason to pull out my Poe.

(I didn't care a whole lot for the book. Like how he found truth where it lay, but other than that I did not feel strongly for the charachter, and have no curiosity of which story is true. I don't care which is true. I'm guessing this book will be forgettable to me.)


Rajasekar Muthusamy The island is a metaphor for hindu god Vishnu. It was also talked in the begining of the movie when his dad says not to believe in rilegion. Vishnu protects or save people. When he was starving the island gives him all he need. I dint understand the tooth part. He says whatevery the island gives him in the morning it took away all of them in the night. So much lonely left behind. If he stayed back he certainly will not reache his destainy. Life is risk.


message 12: by Mike (new)

Mike My opinion is that the island is a metaphor for cannabalism. The daytime or light represents the benefits of the food given by "the island" food and nourishment. The nighttime or dark represents the dark side of the act of eating the dead. The tooth is a residual part leftover that brings awareness of the dark side and a reality check to the dark. After seeing the tooth Pi realizes it is time to leave the island or cannabalistic ways.


Geoffrey The idea of the island is truly twofold.Our hero is hallucinating by this time, having spent so much time on the open seas. He is losing his grip on reality. The island narrative also is the most serious aspersion on the veracity of the first tale.
Upon reading it initially I was somewhat reminded of Doris Lessing`s novel BRIEFING FOR A DESCENT INTO HELL. I believe whatever Martel is doing is multifaceted in that the metaphor works on several levels and has more than one literary precedence.


message 14: by Cheyanne (new)

Cheyanne The island to me, actually is a parallel to the lifeboat which Pi had been stuck on. It is said to be "floating along with the sea" much like the boat. Right before Pi comes across the island, him and Richard Parker are lying in the boat on the verge of dying...He goes to the island to revive himself and Richard Parker. The island turns out to be carnivorous however- and he comes to the realization that he must move on, and cannot stay or it would be the end of him. Just like if he just stayed lying on the boat- it would be the end of him. The island was meant to help Pi keep moving and not give up.


Katie I believed it, but didn't know it, though ;)


message 16: by Ezgi (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ezgi Niral wrote: "It's not something one is able to really totally prove, on either side of it, religious versus atheistic (remember that Pi proclaims that he considers atheism a true faith, not true as in it is correct, but true as in it qualifies as one). Both take the same jump, whereas the agnostic sits on the edge and waits for facts and proof that won't come.
So if you sit and wait for proof of one side or another, which side of the story is correct, you are waiting for evidence to something that has inadequate proof, is what he is trying to say, like faith."


As an agnostic, i have to say i agree with your view 100%. I couldn't believe either story, although i really wanted the 1st one to be true. But i think you have a perfect explanation of the reason. Even though i want to believe the first story, there still is not enough proof for me to believe it 100%, so on the back of my mind, i still think the 2nd story might be true...it's the exact way i review religion, and i haven't realised it until i read your comment.


message 17: by SezLou (new)

SezLou I definitely agree with the idea of Vishnu being present in the movie. Vishnu is considered the god of storms and is described as having dark complexion of water-filled clouds. He also holds a lotus (a major part of Anandis story and connection). The island is both a life giver that can support life (the meerkats (which is so random!! They are desert animals anyway)) but it can also destroy life (being a cannibal island) this is reflective of Vishnu as well.I also hated the fact that we were given two different endings and we had to choose which one we liked. It left the story feeling incomplete. Then after he tells his story we were left with just the present. We were given no indication of how he got where he was today with a nice home a beautiful wife and two children. I agree with the analogy that you have to decide between God (the tiger story) or human nature (the cook, ama, Ravi and Pi). What also frustrates me is when Pi first is on the boat and all of the animals are still alive he does not realise that there is a freaking Bengal Tiger on the boat!! Also hyenas are scavengers and won't directly attack an animal unless necessary. Also the tiger would have attacked the Zebra and Orang-utan immediately once the sea settled down. It doesn't making sense logically. Well this is me done.


message 18: by Kirby (last edited Jan 07, 2017 06:06PM) (new)

Kirby Schroeder "Hyenas are scavengers and won't directly attack an animal unless necessary" - I bet a hungry hyena looking at a dying, injured zebra would hesitate for about 10 seconds before tearing it apart... Not a healthy, whole zebra, perhaps, but an injured animal is as good as a dead one when you are a carnivore/ detrivore trapped on a boat. And why should the tiger have attacked the zebra and the orang? Wasn't it seasick? It had been raised on hand-fed meat, though we knew it could still kill a goat-- they missed that in the movie: the tiger had been starved for three days before it was fed that goat. So it could kill when hungry. But I never got the impression that it was a gratuitous killer. And just before they arrived at the island, Pi holds Richard Parker's head and says, "We are dying." Parker lets his head be held, his wild dangerous huge sharp weak helpless head, because at that point all he wanted was gentle comfort as he died (though he didn't, of course!).


message 19: by Kirby (new)

Kirby Schroeder Also, bananas do float. I knew it!


Chandhni Sivashunmugam Regarding the alternative story told by Pi to the Japanese investigators: When Pi asks the investigators, which story they believe in, the investigators reply " the story with Richard Parker". I believe the author wants us to understand there is god everywhere looking out for us. But we as people don't realise it until a miracle happens(like the island, Richard Parker,etc.) To me, the author doesn't want to debate the possibility of the 2 stories;rather he wants us to notice the difference. The only difference is the presence of romanticised miraculous events that happened in the story with the Richard Parker. Stories of God with Miracles have been used by our ancestors to bring faith in God amongst the common man. The human mind has evolved more scientific nowadays and refuses to believe in such stories. Thereby losing faith in God. The modern mind's reasoning is as follows: "Miraculous events are not scientifically possible. If there is God, he must be performing miraculous events. Hence there is no God". We fail to notice God in the simple non-miraculous events in life. Keep Hoping <3


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