Book : Life of Pi - Part 2

Later I read the book, it took me 2 weeks. I read Chapter 92 : Floating Island , on the 2nd last day before finishing it off the day after. Although I love the whole story, this particular chapter attracted me the most. By far, the book is a long version of the movie, the detailed part. I am thankful for reading it after I watched the movie because if I didn't, I may not find what I was searching for. 

This part is only rationally acceptable if you were just as curious as I am about what the Floating Carnivorous Island meant, because my main purpose of digging it deeper is to understand the chapter. The book version differed a bit than the movie, there was a scene of Pi met another survivor on a boat , a blind French man, they became friends after being alone for so long , but Richard Parker ate the man brutally out of hunger. Pi then became devastated , he said " Something in me died then that has never come back to life ". 

The Floating Island : 

I asked myself, if those animals were the representation of the survivors in the shipwreck, then what was the meaning of the island? I then come across David T. 's detailed thoughts and it was all just clear to me. Here is the combination of his findings and many more other reviewer's thoughts. I only focused on the chapter 92 alone.

Summary :- 

Pi - Human
Richard Parker - His inner self 
Floating Island - Religion/s 
The boat - Faith (Belief in God)
Survival Manual Book - Kitab 
Sea & Sun - Harsh Realities 
Trees - Clergy , Rabbis, Imam, Priests, etc. 
The main carnivorous tree with the tooth - Highest Pope , Imam, etc
Meerkats - Followers of the Religion 

To stay on the Island - To give up on finding the meaning of life and just cling to religion. 
To leave the island - To find something to answer those questions and be closer to God.

In the open sea, Pi found an island, the island offered food and shelter, it gave comfort. On the island, along with the trees, there are thousands of meerkats. At night they cling to the trees to save their life from the acidic land, in daylight they come down and continue living. After a while Pi found out that the island is carnivorous, it eats the living that stayed on the island. If he choose to stay and forget civilization, he will eventually be eaten by the island. If he leaves the island, he will need to fight for his life to survive. But he chose to leave.

Message :
That's how it is. When Human faces a spiritual crisis in life, religion seems so comforting, a claim that it makes us closer to God. While practicing everything that the religion teaches us, we somehow forgot to understand the meaning of it. We let some questions unanswered. Although religion can lead us to God, can nourish us spiritually, it doesn't give us the main answer to our spiritual questions. Staying forlorn in a religion can kill us slowly from the inside, we will then left feeling empty. Because we can't understand the reason of everything. 
The main message is to set on a journey and find God, to have faith and to learn to understand in much deeper risky ways instead of just following the path.


Longer explanation :- 
This is my self-note based on the book. 
The long essay-like posts is due to too many arguments in my head.
I guess this is what the writer Yann Martel felt about religions and human.
This part will be updated by me every once in a while when I find new findings from the book.  
NOTE : For curious minds only.

How Pi saw the island :
After the death of the French man, Pi has no intention of living anymore, he was slowly giving-up on life. That was when he saw the island. In the book, " I turned over to my other side .. ,
I opened my eyes ". When he chose to turn away from what he believed it, his faith, he then saw the island , the island that is in a way symbolizes religion. A person giving up in searching for the true meaning of God, they turned into religion, something much more easier to believe in. 

Survival manual : 
In the book, Pi used the survival manual to survive living in a boat. He devoured the manual, having to read it many times. It was mentioned in the manual, " Look for green " , which Pi then saw the island as what what supposed to be searched for. The survival manual symbolizes kitab, in our life : the Quran, the Bible etc and it said to find Religion (green - island). 
"To judge - and be disappointed - or not to judge, that was the question", page 346 : -
that is to say that to try understand the Religion , is the main dilemma of each human. 

The island : 
The island symbolizes religion. The island helped Pi restored his health until he became strong again, protected him from the sea and the sun, provided him enough food and shelter. That is how religion to us, it gives us comfort, an easy way to be closer to God. 
"something flexible but solid", page 346 
"as for the greenness, it was so fresh and soothing that strength and comfort seemed to be physically pouring into my system " , page 347 

The trees : 
The tree symbolizes the religious people like rabbis, imams, priests, etc. How they are the main person people find to feel closer to their religion. Imagine there is this bus and it leads to God, the religious people act like bus drivers that bring people on board to the destination - or that is how most people see. So in the floating island, they are the trees, inviting and brings comfort to human. 
"The tree was more inviting", page 348, 
"But it was a tree, and a tree is a blessedly good thing to behold when you've been lost at sea for a long, long time" , page 349,
"Oh, that I could be like it, rooted to the ground but with my every hand raised up to God in praise", page 349. 

Richard Parker :
The tiger itself represents Pi's inner self. Human's instinct. Richard Parker knew about the island, he came back to the boat every night, when the island starts eating after dark. Pi took longer time to find out about the island. It is only after he found the tree with all those teeth, then he finally knew.

The Meerkats :
They are the followers of religion. There were hundred thousands of meerkats on the island. In a way, a representation of human who given up their own thoughts and accepted religion entirely. They choose to live comfortably in the island, with enough food and shelter to live.
"After a few seconds, they went back to doing what they had been doing before I appeared, which was either nibbling at the algae or staring into the ponds. To see so many beings bending down at the same time reminded me of prayer time in mosque", page 357.

The Boat :
It represents human's faith. A boat so tiny in the middle of the open sea, exposed to danger and risks. The only thing Pi hold on to was his own faith in God. Despite having to fight the harsh situation on the open sea, one should try and be brave.
" He preferred to set off and perish in search of his own kind than to live a lonely half life of physical comfort and spiritual death on the murderous island ".

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1 comment on "Book : Life of Pi - Part 2"
  1. Thank you for this post!

    I have a more simple thought about the island (because I only focused at the movie), and something about that Shiva shaped island just felt so familiar and empty. I have always thought that the island was set to give Pi an epiphany about not giving up hope even if his life on the rough sea stranded on a boat might be over by living under the false safety of the island.

    Okay, now I really need to read the book.

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