The Life of Pi by Yann Martel: Living A Moral Life and Surviving in an Amoral World

             The Life of Pi by Yann Martel is part philosophical meditation, part “Survivor” story. It tells the tale of a young protagonist, a boy named Pi, who must survive on a raft with wild animals after a shipwreck. Martel’s book poses the question—how can a religious person like Pi continue be moral yet survive according to his moral laws in an amoral, dog-eat-dog world? The answer the book provides is complex and simple all at once—Pi must hold true to his values of tolerance, yet be adaptive enough to learn to and respond to his environment.
             At first, before he becomes a castaway, Pi is obsessed with religion, and how to live as a religious person. But when cast adrift from civilization, Pi is faced with the even more pressing dilemma of how to survive physically in the natural world. Soon, one of the animals, a hyena, eats every animal on board—except for the tiger, that Pi names Robert Parker. The tiger eats the hyena, thus saving Pi, as Pi was sure that he was the hyena’s next meal! Pi takes care of the tiger but grows weak and blind. He is nearly murdered by another traveler passing, but once again the tiger saves Pi. The tiger is not a moral beast, but the boy and the tiger forge a connection, out of their difficult circumstances.
             Pi claims at the beginning of his tale to be a believer in three religions, Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity. His attitude on the raft encompasses the acceptance of fate of the Eastern religion of Hinduism, and the forgiveness of Christianity. He is compassionate to all sentient beings. The tiger is a force of nature. It is not a moral being like a human being, but by respecting its life, Pi benefits from the animal’s presence. In fact, Pi learns by observing the animal that the tiger, as wild, primal, and animalistic as it may be, can actually survive better on the raft than he can. The tiger is not purely thoughtless and cruel like the hyena, a creature which simply stuffs itself an...

More Essays:

APA     MLA     Chicago
The Life of Pi by Yann Martel: Living A Moral Life and Surviving in an Amoral World . (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:58, January 19, 2017, from