If you know me well, you know how apprehensive I am when approaching modern fiction or any author whose name I have never heard alongside the literary giants. Although I realize how ignorant this attitude is, at times I really cannot help it. It is rare that I pick up a contemporary novel that has astonishing writing. Every sentence is so simplistic, every word doesn’t give the feeling that it was chosen with care… (Yeah, I care about diction a lot.) That is why I stand by my strong attachment to classics.
Life of Pi did not surprise me with its prose. The writing was “alright” (which to me, as an aspiring writer, would be bordering insult), sometimes the author described details that I would rather not know, sometimes he did not tell me enough. But the idea behind the book was impressive. I am sure you have ere read the following synopsis.
Pi Patel, a sixteen year old boy, is shipwrecked on a boat with a group of animals: a zebra with a broken limb, a bloodthirsty hyena, a gentle orangutan, and a ferocious 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger, Richard Parker. Soon, all but the latter are disposed of, and Pi finds himself sharing a lifeboat with an enormous predator. This is a wonderful story of a journey.
What you may not know is that Pi is a follower of three religions, what helps him stay sane, and in the very end this book may be about God and Faith. For at the very end, Pi tells another story…
Pi Patel, a sixteen year old boy, is shipwrecked on a boat with a group of people: a young Chinese worker with a broken leg, a cannibalistic French cook, Pi’s mother, and himself. The cook, driven mad by the desire of survival, eats the Chinese boy and kills Pi’s mother. Pi, enraged, murders him, and finds himself one on one with his inner predator, struggling to retain mental and physical balance. This is a heartbreaking story of human vice.
Which story do you believe? Which is the better story? Is the better story the truth or is it the one that is easier to believe? When Pi tells both stories, his listeners choose the one with the animals as the better story, to which he replies “And so it goes with God”.
The end of Life of Pi gives a whole new meaning to its beginning. Good questions are raised, and answers are searched for in the minds of the readers. The story is open for interpretation, and there are many interpretations that come out of it. I like that. Although an easy read, the story remains with the reader for a while. However, there is not much to gain upon re-reading [I would think].