My thoughts on Life of Pi. SPOILERS

Life of Pi is probably my favorite book. In anticipation of the movie I read the book again. Amazing story, if anything the book is better with a second reading.

I am going to post my thoughts on the book ? but I am giving a full SPOILER ALERT. This post is only for those who have read the book. If you haven?t ? even if you don?t think you ever will ? stop reading. Even the upcoming movie (which you will probably end up seeing as it?s a major release) demands that you stop so you can experience the story the way it was meant to be experienced.

Last chance, if you haven?t read the book, you should read no further.

Ok, so the question that often gets asked at the end of Life of Pi is; which story is true? This gets asked like its some form of a spiritual Rorschach test. If you believe the horrible story, you are a realist. If you believe the lighter story, you have spiritual faith and magic in your life.

I believe this interpretation is too simplistic. Both stories are utterly real in every meaningful sense. In all meaningful terms, they both ?happened?.

I?ll start with the horrible story. It can?t be dismissed no matter how hard you try. The clues to this are endless in the book but here are just a few; The animals were locked in cages, the sailors would not take the time to release dangerous animals in a rapidly sinking ship. Richard Parker only appears at times when Pi needs to summon bravery, savagery or companionship. He does not appear until that is required and as soon as those things are no longer required (when they hit land) he departs. Finally and perhaps most convincingly ? there would be no reason for Pi to fabricate this story if the first story were the one and only truth.

So I guess that means that the lighter story must be thrown out. That it only happened in the boy?s imagination as a way of coping with the horrors of the true story? Not so fast.

Let?s remember that the book is called ?The Life of Pi?. It?s not a book about his adventure, or his survival story. It?s a book about his life ? and he is no ordinary boy.
Pi ? that seemingly simple yet still not fully understood force of nature is the perfect name for the main character. He is a profoundly spiritual boy, long before his journey. The book starts by telling us about his commitment to Christianity, Hinduism & Islam. At first he angers the local leaders of these religions and then he ultimately schools them in spirituality. He has transcended religion.

Which is why I believe the book is ultimately about the power and value of transcendent spirituality. I believe Pi?s experience on the boat was exactly what he described in the bulk of the story. It was not simply his story it was his reality in every meaningful sense and it was his transcendent spiritual nature that made this possible for him.

I found myself wondering about the island. The island is the one major part of his experience that is not explained or even referenced during the horrible story. But we spend too much time on the island for it not to have deeper meaning.

The island represents pure transcendence and spiritual mercy. It is quite literally Eden. That?s why it doesn?t appear in the horrible story. There is no place for it in that story.

It comes at a time when Pi is at his most desperate. Even Richard Parker ? his symbol of strength ? is weak and barely alive when they happen upon the island. The island provides for all of his needs at a time when he had none. Food, water, beauty, even companionship. Pi even considers never leaving the island. He only chooses to do so when he literally picks the fruit from the tree of knowledge. The fruit provides that knowledge. It grounds him and it is now time for him to return, his journey is almost over. His need for mercy is at an end. He hops back on the boat and is then quickly saved.



Life of Pi is probably my favorite book. In anticipation of the movie I read the book again. Amazing story, if anything the book is better with a second reading.

I am going to post my thoughts on the book - but I am giving a full SPOILER ALERT. This post is only for those who have read the book. If you haven't - even if you think you never will - stop reading. At minimum you will probably see the movie and you really want to experience the story the way it was meant to be experienced.

Last chance, if you haven't read the book you should read no further.

Ok, so the question that often gets asked at the end of Life of Pi is; which story is true? This gets asked like its some form of a spiritual Rorschach test. If you believe the horrible story, you are a realist. If you believe the lighter story, you have spiritual faith and magic in your life.

I believe this interpretation is too simplistic. Both stories are utterly real in every meaningful sense. In all meaningful terms they both "happened".

I'll start with the horrible story. It c
W P.
11-11-2012 05:43 AM

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Elena-Beth Kaye

Elena-Beth Kaye

W Pringle we are waiting for your missing paragraphs!

Dec 19 - 10:48 PM

Kelly Richwood

Kelly Richwood

AGREE! There is also the possibility of brain chemistry's reaction to traumatic stress (mingle that with his spirit).

Dec 10 - 08:47 PM

Lorie Volkman

Lorie Volkman

W. Pringle, I hope you can post your last few paragraphs again, I would like to read them. I do not think that the question of which story is ture is a simple but good question to start with. Which religion is true? I would say all and none. Which story do you like best? So it goes with God.
I believe that if more people looked at religion that way we would have less war and friction. Just pick the story you like the best.

Nov 24 - 07:56 AM

PJ Edwards

PJ Edwards

Great review. I saw Life of Pi and agree it was too simplistic. Never read the book though and if that is what the movie is trying to portray then it failed. But it is still an immensely interesting visually spectacular director's showcase as evidenced by the universal love by critics.

Nov 19 - 11:54 PM

W P.

W Pringle

Hmm. The post cut off my last few paragraphs and doubled my first paragraphs. Strange but there you go.

Nov 11 - 05:46 AM

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