In the book Life of Pi almost everything you encounter has symbolism. His lifeboat, colors, the sinking of the Tsimtsum, Richard Parker the tiger, and even Pi himself.
The lifeboat symbolizes safety, and home. It’s Pi’s security and constant during his adventure as a castaway. Without it and everything in it there is no doubt Pi would have died. The color orange is repeated all throughout the book. The oars, Orange Juice, the lifeboat, the lifejackets, and his whistle, almost everything that he uses or helps him through his time at sea are orange. It represents hope and perseverance. Pi has multiple struggles thrown at him every day yet he never truly gives up.
The Tsimtsum’s symbolism isn’t obvious at first when reading the book, but has significant meaning to the entire story. The sinking of the ship gives Pi room for his own reality and his own version of the events in the story. He creates a completely different story than one later given to the two men with the Japanese Ministry of Transport towards the end of the book. He supposedly makes up the version with animals and carnivorous islands where he was the only human survivor. It isn’t positively clear which story is true; it is left for the reader and the Japanese men, to determine what to choose which they want.
Pi has his own symbolism through the book. He is the human part of himself. The part of himself he has always known was there. Pi symbolizes humanity and the good in ourselves where as Richard Parker is the opposite. He symbolizes the wild untamed part of us. Our strong will to survive at any cost. He is a strong and powerful part of us only seen in dire times of need.
The second story seems more true than the story with Richard Parker, the other animals, and the carnivorous island. He did have a lot of time to come up with his own reality and being on your own completely alone for so long probably wasn’t the best for his mental stare either. Especially after losing absolutely everything he knew and watching his mother get murdered right in front of him. I cannot imagine the pain and fear Pi felt. He was a fighter though, and his inner Richard Parker came through to save him.
Pi had so many parallels with the stories that it isn’t certain which is true. Although the second story does seem more believable and not so farfetched, I chose to believe the first. The first story is tragic but beautiful. Pi isn’t completely alone and has Richard Parker there to not only keep him on his toes, but to keep him company and from going completely insane. The second story may have caused him to invert into his own mind and make not only this story but his own reality but I still choose to believe the first story.
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