Life of Pi

I saw Life of Pi again today. My oldest daughter hadn’t seen it yet, and my two younger kids and I wanted to see it again. After reading the book and seeing it twice, I wanted to write a response to the story and what it said to me.

I loved how it mixed non-fiction with fiction and all the spiritual metaphors. It’s an incredible, unbelievable story told by the main character who survived against the odds. The story is framed as one that will make people believe in god. He is narrating the story to a friend of a friend, an author looking to write an incredible story.

Pi said we don’t know god until someone introduces him to us. Pi is born Hindu, but is also inspired by Christianity and Islam. His dad tells him to start with rational thinking and what science has proven. Believing in everything is like believing in nothing.

A common theme was appreciation of the diversity of life. Pi’s family owned a zoo with a plethora of creatures. When he survived the shipwreck during his family’s move from India to Canada, he found himself alone at sea with a tiger, hyena, zebra, and an orangutan.

Pi had compassion for animals and saw their souls in their eyes. His father told him he was only seeing his own emotions reflected in the animals’ eyes. He saved the tiger from drowning and said sorry to a fish he killed to feed it.

The tiger, Richard Parker, ate the other animals. He and Pi learned to coexist during their twenty seven days at sea. They faced life threatening hunger and thirst and were overwhelmed by the power of the stormy seas.

Pi surrendered to god, having lost everything. He didn’t give up hope.

Once he surrendered, the storm passed and the boat washed up on a carnivorous island. Beautiful and teeming with life during the day, it became acidic and brought death to the animals at night. After some rest, hydration, and nutrition, he decided to get back on the life boat. He didn’t leave Richard Parker behind because it would have meant killing him.

They finally washed up on a Mexican shore. Pi was so weak he could barely hold his head up. Richard Parker jumped off the boat, walked to the forest, and paused for a few moments and gazed into the forest. Pi hoped the tiger would turn around and look at him and was disappointed when he didn’t. After everything they endured together, he wanted some closure, an end, before he disappeared so unceremoniously into the forest.

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