The novel Life of Pi, By Yann Martel, shows the readers a heroic journey of an individual who lost his family through a tragic shipwreck and was left stranded in the sea with a companion who was a tiger. Pi, who was left stranded in the sea, fought through many obstacles until he reached mainland and showed the readers his strength to survive on his own and his capability to change as a mature person. Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, shows the readers on how Pi, who is an archetypal hero, undergoes major character change physically, emotionally, and spiritually throughout his whole journey.
One aspect in which Pi undergoes in his heroic journey is the physical aspect. As Pi was left stranded at sea, Pi had to learn to adapt on his own until he reached mainland. Before the shipwreck, Pi had no fear in lack of water, food and shelter, but after the shipwreck Pi needed to find a way to satisfy his basic necessities as a person and also accomodate with an adult tiger staying with him on the same boat until he reaches mainland. In order to do this, Pi teaches himself how to fish for food, how to use solar stills to purify the water and build himself a raft few meters away from the boat, so that he his safe from Richard Parker. The quote “Butchering the turtle was hard work. My first one was a small hawksbill. it was its blood that tempted me, the “good, nutritious, salt-free drink” promised by the survival manual” ( Martel 253), shows the readers on how he has to be physical capable enough to survive on his own. Not only that but as the boat had very less reserves for Pi to feed from, Pi develops a strategy, of eating as much less food as possible and feed Richard Parker limited reserves such as diluted sea water, in order to save as much of food as possible. Also, before the shipwreck took place, Pi was a strict vegetarian who didn’t eat meat. But due to the shipwreck, Pi found himself killing animals and eating them to due to adverse conditions and lack of food. This shows the readers on how Pi learns to conform at the sea very quickly and by adapting through these new adverse conditions, Pi undergoes great physical change.
Another aspect to Pi’s heroic journey Pi undergoes is the emotional aspect of the journey. Pi goes through several emotions before and after the shipwreck that changed him overall as a person. Before the shipwreck, Pi goes through an emotional trauma, when he finds out that he and his family is moving from Pondicherry to Canada. Pi did not want to leave his home country, but later accepted the fact that he had no choice in doing so. But, his main emotional trauma starts after the shipwreck happened. In just one shipwreck, Pi lost all his beloved ones, even his zoo animals he was fond of during his childhood. Losing his parents was a large toll on Pi. Through his journey of being stranded at sea, Pi takes a huge U-turn and matures emotional growth. Pi creates positivity in himself and only sees things that will benefit him. This change in Pi’s attitude seems very abrupt but he grasps onto that small piece of positivity and feels better for it. Not only that, but Pi also grows an emotional attachment to Richard Parker. In the beginning, Pi was very scared at Richard Parker’s presence, and that staying with him on the boat would be the cause of his death. But, by the end of his journey, Pi grew an emotional attachment towards Richard Parker, and that due to his companionship, they both together survived being stranded at sea. The quote “I was certain he would turn my way… In some such way, he would conclude our relationship.” (Martel 270), shows the readers on how Pi emotionally attached to Richard Parker. As a result, Pi’s journey leads to many emotional getaways that greatly affect Pi’s views and the advancement of his character.
The last aspect Pi undergoes through is the spiritual aspect of the journey. Pi, being a follower of 3 different religions, shows the readers that a great amount of his time is being devoted to the gods and spirits. After the shipwreck had occured, Pi lost his faith and spirituality against god. But, even though Pi thought that god turned back to him in a negative way, Pi always had that faith to survive the shipwreck and reach mainland safely. The quote “The presence of God is the finest of rewards.” (Martel 69), shows the readers on how Pi loved the presence of god and was very spiritual. Also, as Pi was a great devotee to god, whenever Pi hunted for a fish and killed it, Pi had guilt smeared all over his face for killing it, showing that Pi’s journey made him recreate his spirituality. Also, when Pi hunted for fish fo his first time and killed it, Pi compares himself to Cain who committed the first murder. Pi believes that the sin he has committed is equal to Cain’s sin, who murdered his brother. Throughout the journey, Pi chooses to lean further to religion and that he believes that God is with him in his darkest moments of the time at sea, showing the readers that Pi became a committed believer in religion.
Overall, Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, shows the readers the heroic journey of Pi after the shipwreck and his development as a mature person. Pi develops physically by learning how to survive independently, emotionally by growing an attachment with a companion, and spiritually by having faith to god. Pi’s quest gives him an improved sense of self of himself and a chance to live a second time as a changed man.