Last updated: August 2, 2019
Topic: BusinessEnergy
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Irony, symbol, setting, metaphor; these are all literary devices or elements of fiction. Literary devices and parts of fiction are used in every fictional piece of writing. Each one of their purposes vary, besides the fact that they make a piece of writing whole. Without these elements or devices, writing would be boring, maybe not even possible. The novel Life of Pi written by Yann Martel and experienced by Piscine Molitor dives deep into the world of literature and how literary elements and parts of fiction such as ironic situations and symbolic features are used to demonstrate the existential struggles of an orphaned teenage boy lost at sea. Yann Martel uses a variety of literary techniques such as irony and symbolic objects in order to convey Pi’s existential dilemmas of being stranded at sea alone. Irony is used by an author in their literature when he or she is highlighting the divergences between what the readers believe will happen and the true outcome. For example, Yann Martel uses the irony of the size of the lifeboat by comparing how the size of the boat barely fits three bodies while it is capable of fitting beyond 30. He displays irony of the circumstance when describing how cheery the mentality of the passengers on the boat would be if instead of three bodies afloat, there were 32 squeezed into the cramped carrier; “It was three and a half feet deep, eight feet wide, and twenty-six feet long, exactly…It also said that the lifeboat was designed to accommodate a maximum of thirty-two people. Wouldn’t that be merry, sharing it with so many? Instead, we were three and it was awfully crowded” (172). Martel uses the irony of Pi’s situation to portray how Pi was facing the struggles of living in the middle of the ocean accompanied by animals. The author was successful in portraying his dilemma through irony by using the uncomfortable situation to his advantage of portraying a comparison of the reality to what is expected to happen. This is an example of verbal irony because the boat is expected to fit 32 people, while Pi shows his surprise at the fact that he feels confined with three bodies in the boat. In addition to the boat being small, the other passengers are unpredictable wild animals, which adds to the fact that they are considered an additional danger. Yann Martel explains the comparison of the reality of the space constraints to the readers by the use of irony, which aids Pi in demonstrating his knowledge of how the dilemma of the little space he is given, and how that will give him trouble in the long run. He also effectively draws a picture of the reality of Pi being abandoned on a small lifeboat with wild animals, so the readers have a better understanding of Pi’s existential dilemmas. This literary device along with the dilemma that follows contributes to the overall meaning of the novel because it shows the reality of where Pi spends a majority of his 227 day journey. Because it outlines the size of the boat and gives the readers an idea of its dimensions, it displays how the protagonist feels towards it, and gives the readers the impression that Pi is under heavy dilemma, causing the readers to understand the novel better. A variety of literary devices are used throughout the entirety of the novel in order to give the reader a better understanding of the dilemmas that Pi experiences.Irony is a technique that can be used in a variety of situations. An ironic situation or statement can be used when the author intends to make an exaggeration or portray something that would be highly unexpected. Another ironic situation that Yann Martel uses appropriately in Life of Pi is when Pi shares the ironic feel of how Richard Parker keeps him grounded throughout this grueling adventure. This is ironic because Richard Parker, a “…hulking beast of 550 pounds” (CHP 8-NEED PG), was the one who “…calmed me down” (CH57). This ironic statement gives the readers an idea of how big Richard Parker really was, and how “It is the irony of this story that the one who scared me witless to start with was the very same who brought me peace, purpose, I dare say even wholeness” (57pg?). By using the irony of how a large, wild, bengal tiger, whom a small Indian boy was trapped on a small boat with was his main source of peace- we can see how Pi was truly in danger. The irony of his statement proves to the readers that Pi is tangled in a web of danger, from being stranded with a large tiger to be in a foreign place. But more concerning was how Pi began to feel comfort from an untamed animal who he had personally seen kill animals both on the boat and in Pondicherry. That shows us how Pi was beginning to turn his biggest predator into a source of comfort. Only someone who is in udder dilemma would turn to a wild animal who “… ate on average ten pounds of meat a day” (58 pg?) for a comfort that can only be provided by one’s family or most cherished possession. There are many types of irony that can be used in a piece of literature; this example is a form of situational irony because Pi is aware of the irony, and has the ability to explain it to the readers. This is also an instance of situational irony because the readers would never anticipate Pi, or any living thing for that matter, to trust something that gives them most fear, as well as the unexpected nature that Pi would find tranquility in it. Irony as a literary element contributes to the overall interpretation of Life of Pi as a whole because it helps develop the idea that despite being terrified of Richard Parker, we previously know that Pi survives to tell the tale of this story. Because the readers know that Pi survives, one can infer that these ironic times of this novel contribute to the portrayed overall theme of “the desire to live”. Pi decided to twist the presence of this dangerous animal into a positive aura of a family or friendly figure. Without this figure, Pi would have gone crazy or have been desperately lonely. Richard Parker posed as a buffer for Pi between life and death. Pi is a smart enough kid to know that he would be bound to go insane being alone in a small life raft, but because he desired to live, hopelessly, he developed a friend out of Richard Parker in hopes that he would survive. Even though the situation of Pi being acquainted with Richard Parker is full of irony, this guides the development of Pi’s dedication to be safe, to the point where he forms a strong relationship with a full grown tiger and is sad when he departs when the boat washes ashore. Irony is an effective way to portray a widespread theme over a broad book like Life of Pi, and Yann Martel did just that. Symbols are also strung throughout the book, but have another purpose in this instance. Literary devices such as symbols are commonly used by authors to demonstrate something and get an important belief or idea across. This strategy is often used in the novel Life of Pi, written by Yann Martel when he is striving to get an underlying point across to the readers. Symbols are categorized in a handful of ways. Have it be through metaphors or allegories, the objective is most frequently the same, to enhance the writing and cause the readers to ponder deeper through the context of the book. The most prevalent symbol in Life of Pi is a symbolic object; Richard Parker himself. Many believe that Pi’s story of the three animals and the scrawny vegetarian boy stranded in a lifeboat is the authentic story. And for all the readers know, it could quite possibly be true. But once the readers ponder the thought of Richard Parker long enough, one can see quite easily that the 450-pound bengal tiger is just a symbol of the fear of Pi. To many people, a large wild animal would pose a significant fear, so this is a logical explanation for the presence of Richard Parker. When Pi exclaims his relief when he hits the sand on a beach in Mexico, Richard Parker’s presence “left him so unceremoniously” (CH94), just similar to how the fear of being alone in the journey could have faded when Pi was sure that someone would rescue Pi. The symbol of Richard Parker is also an underlying idea when Pi shares how without Richard Parker (fear), he had no chance of surviving; “Richard Parker, it’s over. We have survived. Can you believe it? I owe you more gratitude than I can express. I couldn’t have done it without you” (94 NEED PAGE). By being stranded alone in the middle of the ocean, anyone would be terrified, especially if they had only gone around the sun 16 times. Ultimately, without fear, Pi could have possibly died on the boat for a number of reasons. But because of his fear- he was able to persevere and survive to have lived a fulfilled life with a new family.  One common perception among a majority of the population is the notion that “you are your worst enemy”. Another way Pi could have died while on his treacherous journey would have been of self-doubt. Fear is something that grounds you. Without the fear, one’s own self-doubt would overrule any sense of dignity or hope in the body, so without the fear, Pi would be in a mind trap with himself constantly pondering the “what ifs”, wherein his reality, Richard Parker was his fear that Pi needed to devote his time, energy, and concern to. A symbol’s purpose in writing is to expand the piece and add richness and texture to an otherwise boring piece. Because Life of Pi is an already eventful story, the symbol’s purpose is to add more mind-boggling elements to get caught up over and question throughout the entirety of the novel. Literary elements and parts of fiction such as underlying symbols and ironic situations, when added to a story result in a more in-depth and a more elaborate piece of writing. These pieces of literature are used countless times in Yann Martel’s writing of Life of Pi and aid the piece in accelerating the depth and dimension of the writing. Not only do these parts of writing and elements of fiction elevate the writing, they help the reader further understand the internal struggles of the main character Piscine Molitor, a 16-year-old Indian boy who is stranded with wild animals on a small lifeboat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. By using components of irony such as situational and verbal irony, Martel is successful in portraying the internal dilemma of Pi throughout the journey. Symbols such as the infamous Richard Parker are another way Yann Martel used a literary element to accelerate and depict the existential struggle faced by Pi Molitor. Many sides of this story are yet to be confirmed, but since the story featuring the animals is more riveting, let’s make the executive decision to believe that story.