Relationships are a fundamental part of life. By connecting to other living beings in different situations, people are able to put their lives into perspective. The novels The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom and Life of Pi by Yann Martel both highlight the impact of chance encounters in people's lives. In the former, main character Eddie changes greatly after meeting five people in what he believes is heaven and in the latter, the titular protagonist Pi must create a new lifestyle for himself when stranded on a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a tiger named Richard Parker. These relationships mark a new beginning in Eddie and Pi’s lives and offer both characters a sense of wisdom, truth and an accurate insight into life.
Relationships tend to be fragile, but from that same fragility one can procure a sharp sense of wisdom when making decisions. Pi realizes that Richard Parker brings structure to his otherwise hopeless and bleak circumstances. The creature’s mere existence on the lifeboat occupies Pi with a quest for survival while motivating him to stay one step ahead of the tiger. Pi affirms this in Chapter 57:
It was Richard Parker who calmed me down. It is the irony of this story that the one who scared me witless to start with was the very same who brought me peace, purpose, I dare say even wholeness (Martel 162).
Richard Parker forces Pi to learn how to survive on his own. As the story progresses, Pi begins to value his life more and more, even discarding personal beliefs for the sake of his well-being. At the same time, Pi does his best to placate Richard Parker by satisfying the tiger’s needs for food and water, fearing the repercussions of a hungry carnivore. In this quotation, Pi becomes aware of how Richard Parker is affecting his life, which is in a positive way. Richard Parker is the catalyst in stimulating Pi to work towards his survival, in turn helping him to adapt to his situation on the lifeboat. Consequently, Pi is able to combat his fear, an emotion he discusses in Chapter 56. He sees fear as “life’s only true opponent” and goes on to explain that “…only fear can defeat life” (Martel 161). This is proof of Pi’s growth and that he is maturing into a calmer, rational individual ready to take hold of his situation and do anything in his power to survive. He is wise enough to understand that he has no other alternative than to live with Richard Parker on the lifeboat, because killing the tiger off is too difficult and dangerous for him. Pi attributes his relationship with Richard Parker, through which he overcame his fear, to his desire for survival. If Pi can keep Richard Parker content, his safety is ensured. Similarly to Pi, Eddie achieves a sense of wisdom after learning about his past. In the fifth chapter of Albom’s novel, Eddie meets his first person in heaven, a circus freak show participant from his past called the Blue Man. Eddie learns from him that he could have almost died in his...