Life of Pi

The Issue of Mortality in the Life of Pi College

In Life of Pi, Yann Martel juxtaposes issues of morality alongside the primitive necessity of survival. Pi’s life-threatening experiences while stranded on the Pacific Ocean threaten the integrity of his morals and beliefs. His pluralistic faith demonstrates that morality is less about one specific religion, and more about the preservation of one’s dignity, humanity and self-respect. As Pi finds himself in a dire conflict between faith and reason, Martel asks the reader to consider what actions are moral or immoral when facing potential extinction. Pi’s transformation from a benevolent human being into a bestial survivor—as well as his ultimate redemption— suggests that morality is likewise malleable according to the circumstances, and that a moral code itself is a flexible entity which is preserved in the mind of the individual according to free will and perception.

Pitted against deadly circumstances, Pi fights to survive while clinging to his sense of morality through various means, including illusory storytelling that blurs the line between reality and fiction. Upon telling two stories to investigators in the third part of the book, Pi asks, “So tell me, since it makes no factual difference to you and you can’t prove the...

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