The Human Struggle In Yann Martel's Life Of Pi

1021 words - 5 pages

Humans generally face struggles in their lifetime. Such struggles could be within themselves or with someone or something else but commonly stem from some sort of opposition in lifestyle. In Yann Martel’s novel, Life of Pi, Pi’s passion for personal survival conflicts with his moral obligations to himself internally, morphing his external character.
Throughout the novel, Pi’s thoughts reveal and internal struggle between his desire to live and his own beliefs to what is morally right. Pi grows up on varying religious viewpoints because he studies different religions. His religious diversity forms a moral standard of “dignity not …depravity” (Martel 71). He values dignity and character over corruption of morals initially because he sees it as the correct way of life. However, when faced with the challenge of survival, Pi finds he must sacrifice some of his previous beliefs in order to stay alive. For example, due to his limited amount of food resources, Pi must abandon his lifestyle of being a vegetarian. This concept of sacrificing his personal beliefs out of desperation is not a comfortable transition for Pi. While starving, Pi has to kill a fish. Since it is his first killing, he does it gently with “tears flowing down [his] cheeks” (Martel 183). Pi’s emotion shown in the process of killing this fish portrays his internal struggle of wanting to remain peaceful. He views himself as a “killer…now guilty… [with] a terrible burden to carry” (Martel 183). His lack of ability to accept the death of the fish and dismiss it for his own survival needs shows his yearn to hold on to his innocent and passive lifestyle he held before. Also, Pi’s denial of killing the rat is an effect of his desire to remain pure and innocent. Though he sacrificed the rat’s life to save his own, he blames its death on “Richard Parker who had killed it” (Martel 183). He refuses to recognize his first real killing of an animal because of his subconscious need to remain pure. Furthermore, Pi tries to justify the killing of animals for means of self-preservation but he is unable to look past the act completely without hints of remorse. Even after he kills a fish in a seemingly careless fashion, in his sleep “[his] mind lit up by the…flickering of the dying [fish]” seems to haunt him with resentment (Martel 186). This subconscious image is a product of Pi’s internal conflict with his new methods of survival. Therefore, Pi is unable to completely eliminate his feelings while trying to survive due to his torn thoughts between morality and necessity.
Though Pi’s conflict is internal, it affects his actions externally and eventually morphs him into savagery but also hopelessness. His conflict helps him realize how his beliefs limit his means of survival so consequently, he goes to extremes to abandon such beliefs. He even admits to himself that though it is “brutal…a person can get used to…killing” if done often enough (Martel 185). This realization Pi experiences causes him...

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