The Better Story in Life of Pi by Yann Martel

1775 Words8 Pages
On its surface, Martel’s Life of Pi proceeds as a far-fetched yet not completely unbelievable tale about a young Indian boy named Pi who survives after two hundred twenty-seven days on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. It is an uplifting and entertaining story, with a few themes about companionship and survival sprinkled throughout. The ending, however, reveals a second story – a more realistic and dark account replacing the animals from the beginning with crude human counterparts. Suddenly, Life of Pi becomes more than an inspiring tale and transforms into a point to be made about rationality, faith, and how storytelling correlates the two. The point of the book is not for the reader to decide which story he or she thinks is true, but rather what story he or she thinks is the better story. In real life, this applies in a very similar way to common belief systems and religion. Whether or not God is real or a religion is true is not exactly the point, but rather whether someone chooses to believe so because it adds meaning and fulfillment to his or her life. Life of Pi is relevant to life in its demonstration of storytelling as a means of experiencing life through “the better story.” Life of Pi begins with an author’s note in which Martel describes being told by the character Mamaji that Pi has “‘a story that will make you believe in God’” (ix). This essentially sets up the basis for the entire theme of the novel. The main character, Pi, claims to practice three religions simultaneously: Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam (Martel 81). Much of Pi’s explanation of his own childhood consists of his own religious journeys. He begins with an explanation of how his aunt introduced him to Hinduism upon ... ... middle of paper ... ...h up their session, Pi asks them, “‘So tell me, since it makes no factual difference to you and you can’t prove the question either way, which story do you prefer?’” The factual or provable existence of God is not necessarily relevant to whether someone should believe in Him. This requirement of proof for belief is typical of the agnostic, whose sole belief is that he or she cannot believe either way because there is no proof either way. However, life is a story, and in real life, there must be a story to tell. When it comes to Life of Pi, there is hardly any difference between life and story, so how could the novel not mimic life, being the story of a life itself? A life perhaps embellished to become better, just as readers must embellish their own lives in favor of the better story. Works Cited Martel, Yann. Life of Pi. New York: Harcourt, 2001. Print.
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