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Symbolism In Yann Martel’s Life Of Pi And Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Short Story The Yellow Wallpaper

1634 words - 7 pages

Throughout the course of a novel, poem, or any literary piece, writers frequently hide symbols offering insight to the true meaning of their stories. Symbols appear as objects in nature, items in home, central ideas, or specific colors surrounding the main characters. The presence of symbolism in literature directly reflects the feelings or characteristics of the protagonist and any other major characters involved in the plot. When writers utilize color as a symbolic message, the colorful images ignite the reader’s inspiration to better understand the situation and state of mind of the character present in the scene. In the Indian novel Life of Pi, author Yann Martel portrays the ideas of ...view middle of the document...

His daughter’s orange cat represents Pi’s enduring life despite a seemingly fatal journey. As the story shifts to the sinking of the ship, more evidence of the color orange appears in aiding Pi’s escape from the shipwreck.
In a frenzy, a Chinese man hands Pi a lifejacket attached to an orange whistle as the rest of the panicking crewmen hoist Pi over the edge of the ship. After falling forty feet, Pi miraculously lands uninjured on the bright orange tarpaulin covering the lifeboat and bounces into the water. He loses the lifejacket but retains the orange whistle which he held tightly in his hand during the fall. Searching for the lifeboat while trying to stay afloat, Pi grasps a hold of an orange lifebuoy that helps him safely reach the small vessel. The water, “black and cold and in rage,” makes Pi realize that “if there hadn’t been the lifebuoy [he] wouldn’t have lasted a minute” (106). Upon spotting the Bengal tiger named Richard Parker in the ocean scrambling in terror, Pi sends out the lifebuoy to help the tiger reach the lifeboat. These objects offer hope that Pi will survive not only the shipwreck but his entire experience aboard the lifeboat yet to come. The orange tarpaulin helps Pi escape injury from the fall to the ocean and the orange lifebuoy helps saves the lives of himself and Richard Parker. The orangutan Orange Juice reminds Pi of his mother and helps him maintain his emotional stability until her death aboard the lifeboat. Pi holds onto the orange whistle as well; although its purpose remains unknown, Pi eventually makes use of it.
Orange represents life, hope, faith and courage, and the orange images in the scene of the sinking ship either save Pi from drowning presently, such as the tarpaulin, lifeboat, and lifebuoy, or serve their purpose later in the story. He uses the orange whistle as a whip and a tool to train Richard Parker into understanding his own hierarchical position beneath Pi. At the sound of Pi yelling and the first blow of the whistle, Richard Parker “cringe[s] and he snarl[s]” (165). The orange whistle protects Pi’s life by preventing the tiger from attacking and eating him. As the story progresses, Pi needs Richard Parker to defend him when a cannibalistic Frenchman attacks and prepares to eat him. The man climbs aboard the lifeboat and Richard Parker instantly devours him. The orange Bengal tiger acts as a safeguard to Pi’s life and provides a shield of armor to anyone or anything threatening his well-being. He gives “[Pi] a life, [his] own, but at the expense of taking one” (255). In the end, the orange lifeboat brings Pi and Richard Parker safely to the shores of Mexico where the tiger runs away having served his purpose in preserving the life of his master.
In Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, the color orange appears to be Pi’s ultimate salvation. Having survived the sinking of the ship, Pi and the Bengal tiger join as a unit together aboard the small orange lifeboat. The orange whistle helps ensure that Pi will...

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