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Yann Martel: Life of Pi

Discussion in 'Fiction Books' started by Darren, Mar 2, 2003.

  1. direstraits

    direstraits Well-Known Member

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    Why "dude, you've been had!!"? Is it because your pal *knows* the tigerless version is correct?

    (Yes, I suppose I *could* be missing the point, but hey, it's an opinion, right? :D)

    ds

    p.s. the religious leaders scene was very funny for me too.
     
  2. mojo

    mojo New Member

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    I like this possibility best, the story wouldn't be quite as amazing without the tiger. And it is meant to be a story that will 'make you believe in God', so the more amazing the better. I think the book's deliberately designed so that the reader gets to choose which ending they liked best, but whichever one you go with, there's no denying that this book deserves all the prizes it won :)
     
  3. Nathan

    Nathan kickbox

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    No, because the entire thing is made up. I thought Pi was a real person, but neither of the versions are real because the whole story, including all the peopel in it, are figments of Martel's amazing imagination (and now our's, too...).
     
  4. cabrasopa

    cabrasopa New Member

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    Reading all your comments I've put it on my growing list of books. Let you know what i think, when i finally get round to reading it.
     
  5. Evil Homer

    Evil Homer New Member

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    OK, how this book is supposed to make you believe in God I'll never understand. In fact, based on how you look at it, it's more likely to swing you the other way. The 'animal story' (ie religion) is completely made up. And so many people want to beieve it because it's a better story, (the factual one was pretty horrific and dull, if you pardon the contradiction, which was a perfect mirror of actual life). And it also spares Pi, and people in general, grief. It's a lot less painful to believe theres a heaven and all that, than to think that mortal life is all there is, despite it being plainly the truth. But thats what I believed in the first place, so it's probably no suprise thats what I saw in it.

    As far as the book itself goes. I dont know whether it was the hype, or the clock reading 3 in the morning, but first time out the ending went right over my head. Thankfully after reading this lot It's all clicked. I thought the first third was the most interesting. Fantastic imagery aside, theres only so much I can read about making a raft and knots without wanting to eat tiger waste. Other than that, I thought I was coasting along pretty well until he came to the island, and my brain started screaming 'what the f**k?' Still, the tooth thing was pretty cool, and I would definitly recomend it. But as far as looking beyond the surface and spiritual meanings, It all depends on the person.
     
  6. RitalinKid

    RitalinKid New Member

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    I just finished this book, and I enjoyed the beginning, including the pages discussing religion. From the posts I've read, I guess I'm almost alone in that opinion. I love that he pointed out that Christians love to capitalize words, so true. I think Martel was trying to show the common aspect of the religions. Each worship scene was a picture of tranquility, and it seemed to me that it was the peace brought by the serenity of worship that attracted Pi to religion.

    With that being said, I think Pi represented humanity. Pi's leaned behaviors were constantly at odds with his human nature, a nature no different than that of any other animal's nature. He was forced to deal with eating meat despite a strict vegetarian upbringing, a diet that was self-imposed (or imposed by society) just as religion is. I believe our irrational desires are almost always at odds with how we've been taught to act. I use the word irrational because sometimes we don't even know why we feel the way we do; it's not immediately obvious. Religious practice provided Pi a point of relaxation.

    The point was driven home at the end by the two accounts of his journey. One is a magical tale that's hard to believe, and the other is a cold account of human survival that's much easier to believe. You will see what you see. Some people will choose to believe the magical tale, and others will prefer the second story. I choose the second story because I believe we have to recognize that there is a "tiger" living in each of us. Luckily, we don't have to unleash ours every day, but the tiger is still there from our species earlier time here.

    As far as the book making you believe in God, I think whoever said that must have meant that it will help you realize that God is a real human creation and resides within us, that God is the set of rules that we've set down to provide some form of normalcy. The human society couldn't prosper if you had to worry about your neighbor killing you because he didn't like your landscaping, so we have established rules against acts like murder that we agree upon, and since certain rules seem to be universal, we've attributed them to a higher source.

    Thanks for the run down of religious symbols, Ell. I think the meerkat bones were a major symbol. No matter what, there will always be questions. Fundamentally, the Bible says the world is 6000 years old; that's a meerkat bone if there ever was one. Even if you don't believe in God, you will have to have faith in something, science maybe, but everytime we learn something new in science, we find new questions and, in some cases, experiments that are impossible to run too. We currently can't simulate the beginning of the universe in a test tube. The meerkat bones, to me, represent the fact that whether you choose religious stories or scientific data for your peace, there will almost certainly be something that tests your ideas. You will find meerkat bones in your ideas.

    Sorry I'm long winded. Thanks if you finished this post.
     
  7. Robotman

    Robotman New Member

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    This is one of my all time favorite books. I like all the interesting trivia, combination of religion, adventure, zookeeping. It was an easy read (a big plus for me) and the ending was thought provoking and extremely creative. Brilliant!

    As for the magical version of the story and the carniverous island, I think Martel specifically pushed the envelope of reality in that part of the story on purpose. It leaves just enough doubt in the reader to wonder if the whole version of the story was made up. Everything up to that point was somewhat plausible. But with the island wildcard, you're torn between trying to figure out which story is really true...

    With all that said, can anyone recommend some other books that have the same characteristics of being interesting, unique, thought provoking, adventure-based and at the same time easy to read?!
     
  8. ParadoxicalRae

    ParadoxicalRae New Member

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    I thought the book was interesting at the beginning, and I really enjoyed the animals and the animal behavior. However, I have to say that I thought the ending wasn't that good. The book basically comes off as Pascal's Wager and it wasn't that interesting to me....
     
  9. Patchwork Girl

    Patchwork Girl New Member

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    I finished reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel last night and I can not believe that I have not read it before now. The story is so imaginative and well written that I could not put it down, unless someone forced me to.

    I liked how he 'trained' Richard Parker to understand that he was alpha male and the island with the meerkats.

    Plus the ending was good: yes, it was a happy ending, but the fact that the japanese officials did not believe him, and he made a more 'believable' story for them was very original.
     
  10. sweetpeas

    sweetpeas New Member

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    i think the majority of the people are aware of the religious implications of the book but are divided between those who have been touched and untouched by his writing. i was able to appreciate his work but found the book slow and lengthy. luckily i gave his other book a try and enjoyed it much better.

    also, along the same lines as some previous posts, the fact that the animal interpretation was so unrealistic and obvious to be the one people would desire to believe, imply that religion is unreal and simply only something we wish to believe?
     
  11. sirmyk

    sirmyk New Member

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    Am I mistaken?
     
  12. akohl

    akohl New Member

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    I'm new. I just introduced myself in the introductions section. I'm happy to see Life of Pi discussed here. I really enjoyed it. But I read it at least 6 months ago so I may have some of the details wrong. the comments in this thread got me thinking about it again and so here are my comments;

    I'd like to start off by addressing three questions.
    1)Which story is better?
    2)Which is the true story?
    3)How will this book help you to believe in God?

    Which story is better?
    Obviously, the animal story. I think the author is showing that portraying life as beautiful is better than portraying it as ugly. It makes a better story. He proves this by saying, hey reader. Didn't you enjoy this story? Didn't it make you feel good? isn't it much better
    than the other one? This proves that the beauty, morality and love are better, stronger, more relevant to the soul than their opposites.

    Now this is not at all an obvious point. Plenty of stories, particularly those made into movies take the underside of life as the basic subject matter and use it to reach out to the reader. Martel is saying, "doesn't my story connect with you better?

    Maybe that's what is meant by, this book will help you believe in God.


    Which story is true? The people story.

    There''s another message to the book as well, and this one is less optimistic. When we consider the question, which story is true, the correct answer is that the bad story is true. For some, the way he gets on with the tiger is too far fetched, for the fishermen among us, the impossible fishing stories push us off the edge of believability. (I just figured the author just didn't know anything about fishing rather than say that he meant this part of the story to be the character's fantasy). For me, it was that island. This was just too far fetched to be true. The author must have meant this as the character's fantasy. I noticed that chaos421 felt the same way about the island, at least some of the things about it. I'm wondering how many readers came to this collusion here.

    Yes, its interesting that the insurance guys reported the tiger. I think this is really ironic how much easier for them to believe it than it was for the reader. Its easier for them, as fact finders, to report this at face value than it is for readers of fiction. That's because they needed to file a report. They needed one version. So they cared about the truth less than the reader of fiction who has the luxury, or is perhaps cursed with the ability to suspend judgment.

    Maybe this is another way in which the book helps us believe in God. Its telling us that to live life, you gotta chose a version and commit to it. The spiritually impoverished and morally corrupt insurance guys got it. Why can't you?

    But in the final analysis we readers of fiction will inevitably chose the bad story as the true story. The author makes sure of that by adding so many different types of incredible elements to make sure that the right straw to break each person's faith will be present.

    The true story even though its every bit as incredible and mind boggling is believed by everyone because even though it boggles the mind we all know people can be like that.

    Yes, the human being is the most dangerous animal in the zoo.
     
  13. Benstephenfry

    Benstephenfry New Member

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    I read the life of pi and enjoyed it on several levels, first of the physical descriptions Yann Martel creates that leaves the reader in his wake, then, the mental anguish he goes through, trapped on this miserable boat. I first thought this tiger was completely implausible, but I thought it had a symbolic meaning before I read the end.
     
  14. Motokid

    Motokid New Member

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    I think the people version is the true story, but the animal version is the one that makes it possible for Pi to continue to live some kind of "normal" life after his rescue. It's easier to deal with the Hyena eating the zebra and orang-utan (spelling?) than to deal with the cook eating the young sailor and his mother.

    The carnivorous island part is really bizarre and makes me wonder what, in reality, that part of the story was covering up, and the part with the other "blind" man Pi was supposed to have met.
     
  15. sirmyk

    sirmyk New Member

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    I think you are on to something with the carnivorous island, which I think was placed in the story as some form of faith obstacle for the reader to conceive. No matter which story the reader believes in, the island is still there to haunt us. Was it really there? If so, what did it represent?

    I have heard by some that it represents organized religion (...garden of Eden with the tree and the fruit... blah blah blah, but taken in another direction) since it was not grounded (like most organized religion), just floating in the sea waiting to be found... waiting to devour up whomever decided to visit (hence the merecat (sp?) bones).

    The opening sentence says something on the lines of "This story will make you believe in God". this novel has a lot to do with faith in general.

    Comments? Discussion?
     
  16. Motokid

    Motokid New Member

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    I don't see how it could make you believe in god... It's a great great story. I had trouble putting it down. But it takes just as much faith to believe in god as it does to not believe in god. I was wondering exactly what part of the story was supposed to really involve this religious mindset? I thought Pi's interest in Hindu-ism, Muslim-ism, and Christianity was pretty cool. I loved the exchange between the three holy men when they all met. I loved Pi's parents overall reaction, and their ability to let Pi do as he wished without applying parental pressure to lean one way or the other.

    But for the most part the survival aspect relied on Pi's knowledge of nature in the animal story. The human story was to sparce to know how he would have survived other than having learned how from the chef.
     
  17. akohl

    akohl New Member

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    I found it interesting that Judaism was conspicuously ignored. I mean. Its a story where three major religions are portrayed and their messages and nuances are used to enrich the story. Why was Judaism, the father religion of both Christainity and Islam left out?

    Is it that Judaism has nothing to offer this novel since it's not a "narrative" or "story based" religion in the opinion of the author? Was it not included because it's not really a major religion in the Indian cultural context?

    I wonder....
     
  18. Motokid

    Motokid New Member

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    That would be my guess...
     
  19. Sitaram

    Sitaram kickbox

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    The Good Ship Lollipop (Tsimtsum)

    Question: How many religions does Pi practice?

    Question: How many toes does the sloth in Chapter 1 have?

    Think about it.

    For me, the most significant single aspect of “Life of Pi” is the name of the Japanese cargo ship, “Tsimtsum.”

    Among thousands of URLs returned by Google on a search of “Life of Pi” and Tsimtsum, only a very few directly discuss the significance of the name Tsimtsum.

    http://www.randomhouse.ca/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780676973778






    http://www.24hourscholar.com/p/articles/mi_m0268/is_7_40/ai_84182763



    http://www.powells.com/fromtheauthor/martel.html


    http://www.readinggroupguides.com/guides3/life_of_pi1.asp

    http://www.randomhouse.ca/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780676973778


    From Pi one gleans that faith -- one of the most ephemeral emotions, yet crucial whenever life is one the line -- is rooted in the will to live.



    http://www.randomhouse.ca/newface/martel.php

    "A storyteller, in order to enchant, must lie, and then must convince us that he is not lying. This novel is all about storytelling."

    http://books.guardian.co.uk/bookerprize2002/story/0,12350,794491,00.html


    http://www.americamagazine.org/BookReview.cfm?textID=2920&articletypeid=31&issueID=430


    http://www.theverandah.net/verandah/article.asp?id=130

    http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Nook/1082/yann_martel_page.html
     
  20. MonkeyCatcher

    MonkeyCatcher New Member

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    I finished the book this morning, and I absolutely loved it. The imagery and the beautiful language really made you feel as if you were there, tasting the first drops of fresh water, experiencing the joy of making a big catch, and feeling the drakness engulf you as you lay on a raft in the middle of the night, all alone. I really enjoyed all the facts/ideas about animals and zoos, although I found the religion parts a bit harder to get through.

    There's not really much more for me to add here.. this book as already been picked apart by the people before me. I personally believe the second story to be the physically "true" one, although I believe the first to be representing this truth, just in a nicer way or in a way that Pi is able to accept.


    1) The animal story, although this question contains a lot of bias as there was at least 200 (?? I don't have the book on me..) pages of animal story, whereas there was only about 3 pages of the other.

    2) If you mean true as in /physically/ what happened, then the second. But just in the general term of truth, I think that they are both as true as each other, they are just told in a different way.

    3) I believe this book to be more about acceptance in general rather than the belief in God. I think that Martel is trying to put across the notion that there are many truths to one story/belief and that it is a matter of choosing what is personally true to you. I think that he was also trying to show that things that are usually seen as impossible to coexist (Pi/Tiger ; Christianity/Hinduism/Muslim), can truely work together if we just forget all preconcieved notions.

    I believe the island represents the hurdle that all religious people face when they decide to accept their religion. In order to accept that the first story is true, people must first overcome the thought of a carnivorous, acidic island, just as religious people must first overcome the thought of a being who is all-knowing, all-seeing and superior to anything else.

    Just my thoughts.. what do you think?

    ~MonkeyCatcher~
     

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