Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and Toni Morrison’s Beloved

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Viktor Frankl once said, “ Man is a being who can get used to anything”(Frankl, Man Search for Meaning) in reference to the millions of men and women who survived the Concentration camps during the holocaust. Was Frankl correct to assume that people are able to adapt to their surroundings, even in the most difficult of situations? The idea that human beings can assimilate to their condition is evident in two award winning novels: Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and Toni Morrison’s Beloved. The main characters from these novels, Pi and Sethe, not only learn to adjust to their surroundings throughout hard times, they also discover themselves along the way. Pi discovers himself and sorts out his religious questions while drifting in a life raft on the Pacific Ocean and Sethe adjusts to freedom after a life of slavery. Life of Pi and Beloved not only show two great examples of adaptability; they also show the development of religious and identity issues. These two tales of two very different people who have the ability to evolve as individuals prove that human beings can find themselves, even in the worst of times.

Many people today are astounded at the atrocities that the prisoners of the Nazi Death Camps survived; I can presume what my fate would be if I were ever forced into such a situation. Similarly, it is hard to imagine surviving a shipwreck in the middle of the largest ocean, but that is what Pi Patel did. On his way to Canada with his father and a shipment of a variety of large zoo animals, Pi’s journey on a large freight is ended due to an accident, and a new one begins on a life raft. Pi and a Bengal Tiger, named Richard Parker, are the last survivors on the lifeboat, and Pi manages to survive despite the elements and shark infested water. “It is pointless to say that this or that night was the worst of my life. I have so many bad nights to choose form that I’ve made none the champion,” Pi describes of his 227 days at sea. The experience at sea was not only horrific because Pi struggled to save his own life, but also because he witnessed the death of his mother and father, as well as his beloved zoo animals. The sinking of the freight carries great symbolism because Pi’s entire life as he knew it was sank along with the ship: “I looked about for my family, for survivors, for another lifeboat, for anything that might bring me hope.

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