Life of Pi by Yann Martel, is the story of Piscine Molitor Patel. Piscine, later shortened by himself to Pi, is the main character, the protagonist, and for the most part of the novel just a teenager. Pi was being bullied to some extent in school, to the point where he had to slightly change his name. When Pi ended up on the life boat, he had no experience in a survival situation to that extent. Desperate measures are taken by Pi In order to survive while stranded on a lifeboat somewhere in the middle of the ocean for 227 days. He was forced to learn how to cope in a harsh and dangerous environment with deadly animals on board. When desperate, humans and animals will do whatever it takes to survive in such hostile environments, such as the incidents shortly after boarding the lifeboat. Pi also had to deal with a carnivorous island that tried to kill him and Richard Parker. When Pi was a young boy, his unfortunate choice of first name, Piscine, sounded so similar to the word “pissing,” that in his primary school he was constantly made fun of. Sometimes the teachers would join in this mockery of Pi as well, without realising that they were pronouncing his name in a slightly different way, which added on to the amusement of Pi’s classmates. “He raised his arm, pointed at me and shouted, “it’s Pissing Patel!” In a second everyone was laughing. It fell away as we filed into the class. I walked in last, wearing my crown of thorns.”(Martel 25) Fed up with the constant harassment, he trained his classmates and teachers to call him Pi by writing it on the chalkboard in each of his classrooms. Overcoming verbal harassment is one of the many ways that Pi has went through and survived a hostile environment, and it only gets worse after that.The second and arguably the most dangerous hostile environment Pi had to deal with was when the Tsimtsum sank, Pi boarded a lifeboat, and eventually an orangutan, zebra, hyena and tiger were on the same lifeboat with him. The hyena was very aggressive on the boat, and killed both the zebra and orangutan. This scared Pi to death, as he assumed he would be the next target:The hyena violently shook her. She fell off the bench to the bottom of the lifeboat, the hyena with her. I heard noises but no longer saw anything. I was next. That much was clear to me. With some difficulty I stood up. I could hardly see through the tears in my eyes.(Martel 164)Pi miraculously survived the conflict between the zoo animals and was just left with Richard Parker the tiger. They have formed a “truce”, shared food and did not harm each other. Aside from carnivorous animals, Pi had to deal with other problems on the boat. He was faced with a situation where food and water were scarce, and difficult to obtain. Pi spent a total of 227 days on that lifeboat. He managed to ration out the water and food, but also had to come up with his own ways of obtaining food. Pi tried to fish and found that catching turtles was rather easy. Pi finds twelve solar stills, devices that turn salt water into fresh water through evaporation and he sets them up in the water. Over the course of time, Pi’s clothes disintegrated. “And i survived because i made a point of forgetting… I did not count the days or weeks or the months. Time is an illusion that only makes us pant. I survived because I forgot even the very notion of time.” (Martel 242)It seems that Pi’s mental state took a major toll over the course of 227 days he spent on the ocean, to the point where he didn’t even care about what day or month it was. Time was the least of his concerns. “Pi describes his daily process of keeping himself busy as “one key to my survival” (210). One notes that prayer, and the sustenance of Richard Parker, dominate his daily activities. But at least ten of the activities he lists are related to keeping his “master” alive: fishing, the preparing of fish, the securing of water, and so on (210-11).” (Gregory) The final and arguably the most dangerous hostile environment Pi had to deal with was the carnivorous island. The lifeboat came across an island covered entirely with algae. Pi and Richard Parker stop there for a little while,drinking the fresh water, eating the vegetation, and nursing themselves back to health. Pi notices that the island is full of meerkats and that the ponds are full of dead fish. During the night, Pi had realized that the island burns his feet at night, but not during the day. Pi slept up top in the trees after having noticed that the meerkats were doing so. On the island, Pi found fruit growing on trees, and inside each of them was a human tooth. He eventually had collected 32 fruits, and 32 teeth, a complete human set. This is when he realized the island was carnivorous. “The island was carnivorous. This explained the disappearance of fish in the pond… This explains why Richard Parker returned to the boat every night. This is why the meerkats sleep in the trees.”(Martel 355) Overall, it is evident that by examining Pi’s experience in various hostile environments, it is evident that he is capable of preserving through these conditions, and can overcome them. He solved the bullying problem he had at school, he coexisted with deadly animals aboard his life boat, he gathered his own food and water to survive, and lastly he overcame the horrors of the carnivorous island, which could have consumed him if he didnt realise it was carnivorous. After massive amounts of physical and mental stress, Pi has shown strength and courage throughout his entire voyage and finally manages to reach Mexico.
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