Spirituality and Survival

Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between the fantastic and the truth. We apply what we believe to be logic and reason to a situation and we may just find that the truth sounds more unbelievable than fiction. This is the case in Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

Piscine Patel lives in India with his family. He has grown up in his family's zoo with a curiosity for animals as well as religion. At the age of 16, his family decides to move to Canada. While traveling across the ocean with some of their animals, their ship sinks. Everyone is lost except for Pi and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Pi must figure out how to coexist with this fearsome beast in a tiny lifeboat while surviving the harsh conditions of a shipwreck. He leans heavily on his faith in Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity for strength.

So many people have read this book in high school and I have heard many mixed reviews of the story. I finally decided to take the chance and read it for myself.

The beginning of the book I found to be a little slow. The story of Pi's life following his ordeal is intertwined in intercalary chapters with stories from Pi's childhood. You find out important and, at times, interesting background information about Pi, his family, and the animals. However, the real action starts after the ship is destroyed and Pi finds himself in extremely dire straits. At that point, I felt myself drawn into the book. I was worried for Pi's welfare and wondered how he would get himself out of the situation. At the end of his fantastical story, the investigators express their disbelief and he presents them with a more believable story. The reader is left to form their own opinion of which tale is the truth.

Yann Martel does a marvelous job of engaging his readers with the story and making them invest their emotions in the character of Pi and his Bengal tiger. I recommend this book to nearly any reader who wants an emotional, faith-filled story of survival.


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