World Studies 3/4
12 April, 2012
Life of Pi: Conflicts In life, conflicts arise almost as often as happiness. They are very much alike as yin and yang, fighting against each other constantly only to end up balancing out. However, in Yann Martel’s novel, Life of Pi, conflicts seem to dominate the battle in the main character’s pursuit of happiness. In the novel, Piscine Patel, otherwise known as Pi, lead a difficult life where he was unaccepted and bullied, but nothing compared to the challenge he would have to face next. His family embarked on a journey to Canada looking for new opportunities when in the middle of the Atlantic, he was shipwrecked and stranded alone with nothing except a hungry tiger and an overwhelming amount of grueling conflicts for 227 days. In Yann Martel’s novel, Pi Patel is challenged on his quest for happiness and faith by unimaginably difficult conflicts including ones against society, nature, and even himself. Wherever Pi seemed to end up whether it was in Mexico, India or anywhere else, he was always seen as being different and unaccepted like an outcast bringing up many conflicts and tensions with his surrounding society. Pi’s very first encounter with society conflicts occurred at school with bullies. Pi was constantly made fun of and teased for his name Piscine Patel. Everywhere Pi would walk people laughed and teased unprovoked and for no reason at all making Pi feel out of place and rejected. He would stand and ignore at the jokes, but the pain lingered in his heart for days. Pi accounted for the time his bully hollered, “He raised his arm, pointed at me and shouted, “It’s Pissing Patel!” (Martel 20). These few words haunted Pi for days after. He constantly felt he had no place in society because society would not stop making fun of him. He felt he had no one to lean upon and was the only one out of place and different from everyone else. He was excluded and unaccepted from society just because of his name and because of it, Pi was driven to the point where he had to switch schools. The feeling of being abandoned and unaccepted was so unbearable for Pi he was willing to move.
Pi shortly after switching schools and telling everyone a new nickname so he would be accepted, encountered another problem with society. Pi was born and raised a Hindu boy, but he had many interests in other religions. He remained Hindu and loved going to temple and eating Parshad, but along the way Pi also fell in love with Christianity and its sense of love and Islam and its sense of devotion and prayer. He would visit the temple one day, church the next, and the mosque the next in a repeated cycle just loving God in all possible ways. However, this raised a problem amongst the religious leaders in the area and the issue was brought to the attention to the Patel parents. The leaders argued consistently making fun of each other’s religion and trying to prove one’s religion better than the other. At the end of their bickering, they came to the conclusion that Pi would have to choose one religion or else he would be unaccepted. Pi stuck to his faith in God in all religions resulting in him being shunned. Pi explained what happened when he tried to pray, “An oaf chased me from the Great Mosque. When I went to church the priest glared at me so that I could not feel the peace of Christ. A Brahmin sometimes shooed me away from darshan” (Martel 71). Clearly, this is just another scenario of Pi being unaccepted. To Pi who was already rejected by his friends, religion was a shelter for him and gave him comfort. It was one place where Pi actually felt like anyone including himself could fit, but now he was unaccepted by this society also. Pi pushed the limits too far according to the leaders and as a punishment he was unaccepted. Pi again felt he had no place and he was rejected. He lost the places where he was most comfortable and where he was comforted the most by God which played a big