Yann Martel's Grandeur in "Life of Pi" Essay
1777 Words8 Pages
Throughout the ages authors have dedicated themselves to trying to find a literary formula that will transport readers to another dimension and get them fully absorbed in the world they have created. Inside this world, through trials and triumph, sorrow and success, adversity and achievement, a story takes place. Symbols and images are carefully woven into the text to enrich the themes the author believes will enlighten his or her audience. Yann Martel makes a memorable contribution to this pool of authors in his novel Life of Pi. Martel uses highly descriptive images such as scenes on the lifeboat, cannibalistic island, and in Pi’s home paired with exceptional symbolism through the animals portrayed in the novel, the color orange, and…show more content…
Zebras are herbivorous, with no form of violent defense, which therefore means they are an animal habituated to flee from those who hunt them. Being on a lifeboat, the zebra has nowhere to run to escape danger and therefore is at the mercy of those on the lifeboat. Not only is there nowhere for the zebra to run when faced with danger, but it is also rendered defenseless when the hyena bit its leg off (150). This becomes Pi’s saving grace because it is now the hyena’s main source of food, taking away any consideration it may have on attacking Pi. The zebra has lost its life, while Pi survives because of its death.
The themes fear, suffering, and are also clearly present in regards to the zebra in Life of Pi. Not only does the zebra have a tremendous amount of suffering when the hyena takes its leg away, but its suffering cannot be denied when even its insides become a feast. This is also cause for Pi’s suffering as he feels that he loses a part of his humanity when he finds that he cannot feel pity for long over the zebra’s tragedy (151). As the zebra fears for its life, Pi fears for his sense of empathy and humanity, and as the zebra suffers through physical pain, Pi suffers through mental anguish. Unlike the hyena, Martel gives the zebra human qualities, which further press the theme of anthropomorphism upon the reader. The reaction of the zebra to the hyena slowly picking it apart: “[T]he zebra, which at first snorted each time the
Anthropomorphism in literature is a common theme throughout the ages. While many tales about animals are directed toward children, simply because adult writers feel that young people are better able to connect with animals or simply because they feel that involving too many human characters would be overwhelming. Despite the host of possible reasons for why so many animal stories exist for children, it is important to also consider the way these stories continue to affect adults.
As one of the main themes in “The Life of Pi" that lies under the surface, the anthropomorphism complicates the task of reading. While many adult readers would feel “demeaned" reading an animal tale since it is associated with low-level reading, the fact remains that adults still retain the tendency to anthropomorphize. The only difference in this act of projecting human characteristics onto animals in adults is that their greater life experiences change the ideas they project.Generally, when in terms of anthropomorphism in literature, one images that children are likely to impose more basic traits on animals (imagining them speaking in strange accents, seeing them as equals, feeling the ability to communicate) adults project “big issues”. Given the fact that so many adults deny their capacity and inherent tendency to anthropomorphize, it seems strange so that so much literature involving human and animal relationships is devoted to children.