Review: Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Life of Pi - Yann Martel

I love this book. I know some hate it, but I love it.

 

I not religious in the traditional sense. I don't believe in organised religion. I believe in finding God in any way it suits each individual. Don't even call it God if you don't want to! Call it spirituality, call it your soul, call it a thousand different Gods! I believe we all have a power within us to be great and to do great things. I believe we have an unending strength, courage and compassion which can be released through an epic experience or by having belief and faith in ourselves and our power. I believe we are all connected in some way, maybe spiritually, maybe something else, but I truly believe that if you hurt another person you are only hurting yourself. This is my version of events, and I'm sticking to it!

 

In the same way, Pi has his version of events: the story of his survival aboard a life boat in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean in the company of a motley crew of wild animals. And then, at the end of the book, Pi gives the Japanese investigators a version of his story they find more acceptable: that he was witness to, and in the end part of, horrendous, disgusting violence and brutality carried out by a fellow human being.

We choose our own reality in life. We lie to ourselves everyday through denial to protect ourselves from the truth. It can be something very small, for example kidding ourselves that we will stick to our New Years resolutions. Or it can be huge, for example we deal with the knowledge that one day we will all die through our striving to lead a good, successful life.

 

We also choose our own reality when it comes to religion and faith. I did not choose a specific religion. I created my own beliefs. Pi does not choose one religion either, he cherry picks his beliefs from three of the worlds major religions; Islam, Hinduism and Christianity. He finds value and truth in all three and so practises all three without renouncing the others. I love this metaphor. Take the best from everything that is presented to you in life. Find beauty and positivity in everything. In my opinion this is the essence of Life of Pi. Choose to see the world through harsh eyes and face the realities of violence, suffering and disaster, or cushion the blow with faith, belief and positivity. Pi implores the Japanese investigators to believe his story and to have faith in what he is telling them is true, even though it may be hard to believe. But they refuse to accept it and so he shows them a horrifying alternative.

 

Some readers may be disappointed by the end of the story, almost like finding out the whole movie has been a dream sequence (there's nothing worse! Check out the latest twilight movie offering to understand my point!) .... But in my opinion it sums up the whole book perfectly. The end is not a twist, it is not the true version of events. It is simply a version. Pi prefers the story involving the animals and so that becomes reality. With faith and belief anything is possible, even a floating island of carnivorous plants home to hundreds of thousands of meerkats. And a tiger can simply be a tiger. And God can simply be God, if that is what you choose to believe.

 

x