In the Life of Pi, Yann Martel, through the main character in the book, Pi, makes the following statement, “I know zoos are no longer in people’s good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both. ” In the world today, zoos have come under scrutiny because of their practices of illegally trapping animals and caging them for profit. The animal rights movement across the world has brought more focus on this practice, claiming that these captured animals have lost their freedom and many are unable to live in their original habitats.
Many people are also finding religion to be restrictive and are becoming disillusioned with their faith. Some religions, especially in Islamic countries that are ruled by religious extremist, have strict laws based on their religion that take away many of their citizen’s freedoms. Even in some Christian and Hindu societies people sometime feel that religion is encroaching into their governments and their freedoms. Yann Martel uses symbolism to emphasize these points in his book.
Many parallels can be made between the events that take place in Pi’s adventure and historical religious events. The author also uses places and an animal to symbolize the three religions that he practices: Islamism, Hinduism and Christianity. Pi is shipwrecked on a boat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. The tiger symbolizes Pi’s original religion of Hinduism and the tiger’s orange color is the color of the Hindu religion. While Pi was on the life boat trying to keep the tiger from heating him, Pi stated “It was Richard Parker who calmed me down.
It is irony of the 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. ” Around Richard Parker, Pi had very little freedom and was always working to keep the tiger from getting angry. Pi spent 227 days in a life boat at sea and on carnivorus island. The author uses the blue sea to represent the Christian religion. Some references water has to the Christian faith are: cleansing, life and emersions for baptisms.
The sea offers the possibility of freedom through its beautiful calming images; however, your freedom can be taken away from you suddenly by its mighty powerful forces that cannot be contained. The carnivorus island is a symbol of the Islamic religion. Initially, the island was a welcome relief for Pi and Richard Parker. It appeared to offer them freedom but in the end they were forced to flee for their lives. Pi sees green everywhere on the island. He states that it is his favorite color and that it is the color of Islam.
Pi remarks that the meerkats on the island remind him of people bending down at prayer time. I believe that many religions have been taken over by extremists that have attempted to take away their follower’s freedoms. Just as the zoo cages the animals and controls almost all aspects of their life, some religions are attempting to do the same to their people. Although the Christians and Hindus have extremists that have attempted to reduce their freedoms, the religion that is in the most jeopardy of being taken over by extremist is the Islamic religion.
Too many of their leaders are using threats of death and violence to take away their people’s freedoms. This is happening in many of the Middle Eastern countries today. In the end, Yann Martell in his book is trying to say that although their may be problems with all religions, your faith can take you through any journey, no matter how bad that journey might be. Pi practices his three faiths to keep his hopes alive after being shipwrecked with a Bengal tiger. Pi states, “so long as God is with me, I will not die. ”