Book Review: Life of Pi

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And the moral of the story is... I don't know. =) Does it matter? There is no just one lesson to learn anyway. That's why Philo classes back in college were a little uninspiring because if you don't hit bullseye the teacher's train of thought then you get a low score. If you fail to hit on the right words the teacher is looking for, then that's probably not the whole point. But hey, we all have our own lessons to learn in every story told. The focal point for the Ph.D-grads may not exactly be the same as that of one student. And I would therefore prefer those discussions that would encourage students to look into every corner of higher learning.


Because I'm no genius like Chocnut (hehehe!) and Life of Pi shoved me to the peripheries of the central point of the story. If the book was supposed to be all about religion disguised under animals and under the whole idea of survival in the middle of the sea, gee, I really didn't see! And if it tackled religion or faith at all, then what about religion did it really tackle, eh?

Pi (as in 3.1416....) is an Indian boy whose father is a zookeeper by profession. When he turned 16, they sailed to Canada together with some of their animals in hope of a better life. But along the way, the ship sank, and Pi turned out to be the sole survivor of the whole catastrophe. It was survival of the fittest in the lifeboat. The animals killed and ate each other until Pi was left with a bengal tiger for companion. What transpires next is Pi's detailed survival story for 227 days alone in the middle of the sea, with his struggles to keep his stomach full, while at the same time maneuvering the tiger with wits to keep himself out of the food chain. After sailing like forever he finally reached Mexican land. His survival story with the animals seemed to be unbelievable to his interviewers. So he made up a second story this time making the animal characters human.

At this point, the readers were left to choose whether to believe the whole story that Pi related in the book, or to dismiss it as an unreliable tale with Pi's right faculties left in question. But the way I see it, Pi could be criticized to no end, but at the end of the day, he is the victor who survived his difficult bouts with the sea, with hunger, with the tiger, with his insanity and hopelessness.

In his childhood, we see Pi with his indecision with religion, thus he embraced three -- Hindu, Islam and Christianity. And this probably helped him in his later ordeal with survival. He had three gods to call on to for help, who all pushed him safely to the land of Mexico. In the brink of death, one is stripped off to only the bare essentials of life. The different religions that are ironically divisive will not matter anymore. The different gods will somehow lose their proper names and will fall down to their common name -- just god. In the brink of death, god will be just god, one that we all know to be good in whatever faith we embrace. Did Pi ever realize that it was only one great god after all who saw through his safe arrival in Mexico? I think it was not three. Ok, maybe this book is about religion after all. ;-)
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