Life of Pi

A Matter of Perspective: The Invention of a Story in Martel’s Life of Pi College

In Yann Martel’s novel Life of Pi, Piscine “Pi” Patel is forced to relay his life story to condescending Japanese skeptics who refuse to believe his tale; they refer to it as nothing more than a fictional invention. Pi somewhat agrees with the men, but challenges their disbelief by saying, “Isn’t telling about something—using words, English or Japanese—already something of an invention? Isn’t just looking upon this world already something of an invention?” (Martel 302). Through this statement, the reader is reintroduced to a theme of the novel: the overall power of storytelling. Life really is a story, the invention of one’s own mind; Pi knows this, and the events of the novel show that his life is certainly a colorful, albeit seemingly hard to believe, tale.

If life truly is a story, then the different aspects of this story are certainly a matter of perspective. One of the largest debates young Pi Patel must face is the nature of his religious practices. Instead of following one set of religious principles, Pi finds comfort in three completely different religious sects: Christianity, Islam, and the religion somehow instilled in him by his overly non-religious family, Hinduism: “So it went the first time I saw a Muslim pray—...

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