Free Study Guide for Life of Pi by Yann Martel Book Summary|
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Pi’s description of the cookies which “are good but they tend to crumble,” could well be Mr. Okamoto’s description of Pi’s story. It is a good story but Okamoto’s perception of reality causes it to crumble. However, each objection the men present is argued against logically by Pi. Yet even with logical support for his story, Pi cautions against being overly reasonable or “you risk throwing out the universe with the bathwater.” This alludes to the saying “throwing out the baby with the bathwater” which warns one not to eliminate everything when it is only part that needs to be disposed of.
Pi’s second story of cannibalism, but no animals has parallels to the first. The zebra and the sailor both have a broken leg and are attacked, scream at first but die silently, and are then eaten. Orange Juice, the orangutan, and Pi’s mother both have two sons, and both are decapitated after a screaming and slapping the assailant. The hyena and the French cook both kill and eat a male (the zebra or sailor) and a female (the orangutan or Pi’s mother). The French castaway also admits to killing and eating a man and a woman. That leaves Richard Parker and Pi. They both kill the animal/person that had killed and eaten the others. The Japanese men assume that Pi has made up the story of the animals because the other story is too unbearable. There is no Richard Parker; Pi is the tiger.
Pi tells Mr. Okamoto that Richard Parker is “hiding somewhere you’ll never find him.” This could mean that the tiger is deep in the jungle, or it could mean that Pi, who admitted to becoming animal-like during his ordeal, has buried his cannibalistic killer side deep inside himself forever. The reader is left to choose which story to believe.
Reason would prompt belief in the second story. Heart would choose the first. Choosing the first story requires faith in the divine and so this story may after all “make you believe in God.” Pi tells Mr. Okamoto and Mr. Chiba that, like them, God prefers the better story.
Mr. Okamoto submits his report explaining that the cause of the sinking of the ship cannot be determined. In an end comment he adds that Mr. Patel’s story is one of tragedy and courage, for no one else has survived at sea “in the company of an adult Bengal tiger.”
In the end, despite using words such as “unreliable,” “speculation,” and “conjecture,” it is apparent that Mr. Okamoto has chosen “the better story.”
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Cassie, Donna L.. "TheBestNotes on Life of Pi".
. 12 May 2008