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Comparing The Things They Carried By Tim O’brien And Life Of Pi By Yann Martel

1530 words - 7 pages

In Martel’s novel, “Life of Pi” the castaway Pi witnessed the horrible death of a fellow castaway within the confines of a lifeboat adrift at sea. This death was brought about by another companion from a shipwreck, but this one was not the human type of castaway. This shipwreck survivor was a tiger that went by the name of Richard Parker. By comparison in O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried,” Kiowa, a soldier in Vietnam, sees Lavender, a man in his platoon, suddenly get shot and killed by a random sniper.
Despite the fact that they both witnessed a murder that happened with no warning, they each reacted to their run in with death very differently. While Kiowa the soldier didn’t feel ...view middle of the document...

Pi really liked, even loved, the big cat, and because of how much he cared for Richard Parker, his inability to care for him as the zookeeper and provider that he thought of himself as was a huge blow. The tiger’s imminent death that would come because of this failure was another big blow to the young teenage’s emotions. In essence, he had begun mourning both his and Richard Parker’s deaths before they had actually happened.
Kiowa, in contrast, was merely worried about Lee Strunk, a fellow soldier who had been sent on a quick mission to search part of a dangerous tunnel system. Lee Strunk was only in the tunnel for a matter of minutes, which didn’t leave a lot of time for Kiowa to get really worried and emotionally drained. He also was not very emotionally involved in the man’s life in the first place, especially when he was compared to how emotionally involved Pi had been with his own life, and how tied up he was with Richard Parker’s. This was largely due to the fact that Kiowa hadn’t been stranded anywhere with only Lee for company. His army platoon had a lot of different men in it who he could hang around, so Kiowa didn’t have a special closeness with Lee like Pi did with Richard Parker. All of this made the emotional toll on him a lot less than what it had been in Pi’s situation.
Not long after Pi had accepted imminent death as a reality, a random voice started talking to him in the middle of the Pacific ocean, saying “Is someone there “ over and over again(Martel 242). The bewildered teenager pushed his imagination to come up with all kinds of odd explanations, the most sensible of which was that his dying mind was playing with him. In the meantime he talked back to the voice, mostly about different types of food and how good they’d taste, if only they could get them. Through his pain fraught discussion with the voice, he realized that he was actually talking to another human, after months of solitude in the lifeboat. A wild mix of intense joy and devastation hit him at that realization, for the man had no food either and, shockingly enough, was also blind for the same reasons that Pi was. Even so, joy and hope of companionship were by far his most prominent emotions. Those feelings made him forget his belief that he was going to die soon. The hope and joy that flowed through Pi made his outlook on life better and much more cheerful. Hope’s nature is like that, making everything seem brighter even if the situation technically hasn’t improved much, or if it’s about to become a lot worse. This is probably the reason that crushed hope is considered to be one of the worst and most bitter things in the world to experience.
Pi, in his excitement and joy had forgotten to warn the man about the tiger in the lifeboat, who held his domain in the bottom of the boat. The man fatally brought “a foot down to the floor of the boat” less than a minute after getting in, and was promptly eaten alive by Richard Parker who had...

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