The Life of Pi

by Yann Martel

This book is about the early life of a boy named Piscine. He shortens his name to Pi when boys in school start calling him “Pissing”. According to the book jacket, the book is about Pi surviving a shipwreck alone in a small life boat with a Bengal tiger, but it was so much more than that. He doesn’t even start his sea voyage until nearly 1/3 of the way through the book then doesn’t even discover the presence of the tiger for several chapters.

The first part of the book is introduction to Pi. I enjoyed his discovery of and dedication to Catholicism, Hinduism, and Islam. It followed nicely with my vague belief that the true religions of the world actually worship the same (One True) God, just in different ways and under different names.

Once he is on the lifeboat, there are some fairly gruesome scenes – I wouldn’t read them while eating. And during his struggle with the day-to-day struggle and worries of survival, he does some pretty disgusting things.

The book ends with a bit of ambiguity. Pi’s adventure ends when he finally drifts to land in Mexico. While recuperating at the hospital, he is visited by agents of the shipping company who don’t believe his story about surviving with a tiger for over 200 days on a tiny lifeboat. Pi finally tells them another story where all animals are transformed into people that the agents do accept. The reader is left to wonder which story is actually the true one. I choose to believe the story as originally told.

One final note, in the beginning of the book, the narrator is directed to interview a much older Pi to hear a story that would make him “believe in God”. I didn’t agree with that assessment of the story at all. The story for me was more about the perseverance of the human spirit to survive against all odds and through amazing trials and setbacks.

Posted by jfer at December 22, 2003 10:08 PM | TrackBack

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