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Self-perception in The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

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The novel Life of Pi demonstrates throughout the book the conflict of reconciling between illusion and reality. Self-perception is one’s ability to hear, see or become aware of things from their senses. This is demonstrated through the main character of the story Pi who goes through conflicts and expectations but shortly realizes the reality of certain situations. Pi from beginning to end of the book shows how self- perception helped him reconcile his conflicts between illusion and reality by overcoming adversity and tribulations. This essay will discuss how Pi expects to be Richard Parker but rather they build a relationship between one another. It will discuss faith and how Pi was exploring different religions but his parents did not accept which made it harder for him. In the novel Life of Pi, the author Yann Martel demonstrates the role self-perception plays through Pi, by having his faith tested and accepting his trails and tribulations that he encountered with Richard Parker better known as the tiger.

The Life of Pi revolves around the tiger and Pi and the journey on a boat to Canada from India, and on the boat was plenty of animals but because of starvation the last to remain was Richard Parker. When Pi wakes up on the boat he notices the tiger sleeping and automatically gets worried and begins to contemplate many emotions. One, which is death where Pi says, “Only death consistently excites your emotions, whether contemplating it when life is safe and stale, or fleeing it when life is threatened and precious”, Pi immediately thinks this idea after he mentions the feelings of being scared and boredom. Death almost becomes an idea when the water is calm. Pi already thinks he is going to be killed by the tiger eventually because Richard Parker will get hungry. However, instead of being scared and worried, Richard Parker and Pi build a co-dependent bond with each other, where Richard Parker relies on Pi feed him by fishing and Richard parker will maintain Pi’s will to stay alive with his presence. A good example that has popped out in the story is when an intruder comes on the boat and tries to kill both Pi and the tiger. Richard Parker kills the intruder saving Pi. This scene in the story goes back to show the feelings Richard Parker has developed towards Pi and how the conflict was reconciled by illusion verses reality where Pi expected to be killed by the tiger but rather built a relationship and protected each other.

In Life of Pi, there is a continuous brawl for Pi between the illusion of faith and the reality of it. In the beginning of the novel Pi tells the audience that he wants to explore all religions he can learn about. Pi’s parents find out that Pi is practicing Hindu, Islam and Christianity from a priest they had ran into. This situation makes it harder for Pi to practice his religions because as people would watch him they would judge how he is practicing different cultures. Pi imagined this process of telling his parents of his different practices to be easy, he would learn all he needs too about all faiths and once he would approach his family about what he decided to be baptised too it would be simple. The reality of the moment is that his parents did not accept his beliefs and made it difficult to be baptised. As time went by and having to face trails and difficulties with his parents, Pi’s parents accept it and hand Pi a prayer mat and baptize him. Having a strong faith for Pi was key in the story, as after he was baptised and lost his family, the only thing left for him was faith and believing in God, which is why he chose Islam because God was always with him mentally which led to Pi keeping his head up. This demonstrated how illusion verses reality is crucial in life. Pi imagined of pickng a belief would be simple but the reality is that everything comes with trials and tribulations and at the end of the story; Islam helped Pi maintain his happiness.

The last part of Life of Pi, Yann Martel gives the setting of the characters Pi and Richard Parker on an island near the end of the book. At first, Pi thinks the island is a mirage, but was in need of resources such as food and water. As he explores the island and begins stepping foot on it he quickly contemplates whether the island is real. He notices that the floor is not soil rather algae and Pi could not be happier. Pi sets his worries aside and continues to explore the island; he discovers freshwater ponds, forests of trees and meerkats that go into the trees in night. Pi and Richard Parker return to the boat and get rest to be fully energized in the morning. However, Pi still cannot get ride of his worries about the island. Pi’s interest and doubt get the best of him, as he and Richard Parker do not take the island for granted. Upon examination of the island, Pi discovers a fruit a tree and is ambitious to taste something different for once. Pi climbs the tree to reach the top of it to grab fruit but he eventually reaches the top and peals on of the branches off, he realizes it is not fruit. He is horrified to find a human tooth under the top layer of the leaves, that moment is when Pi realized the truth. The night of the discovery of human teeth, Pi sets up a test of which he drops a meerkat from its perch and throwing it onto the floor. The meerkat immediately rushes into the branches. Pi discovers that at night the ground turns into a sulfurous floor and takes anything that touches it in and that the island will sooner or later digest him like it did to past living humans on the island. The illusion that Pi faced was that because the floor was algae he was in paradise and everything was right for him but the reality hit him quickly when he realized that the floor is sulfurous so it would eventually digest him.

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Self-Perception In The Life Of Pi By Yann Martel. (2020, October 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 30, 2022, from
“Self-Perception In The Life Of Pi By Yann Martel.” GradesFixer, 10 Oct. 2020,
Self-Perception In The Life Of Pi By Yann Martel. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 30 Jun. 2022].
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