Life of Pi
by Yann Martel
Madness Quotes in Life of Pi
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph)
I heard the words, "Is someone there?"
It's astonishing what you hear when you're alone in the blackness of your dying mind. A sound without shape or colour sounds strange. To be blind is to hear otherwise.
The words came again, "Is someone there?"
I concluded that I had gone mad. Sad but true. Misery loves company, and madness calls it forth. (2.90.11-14)
At this point, Pi begins talking to Richard Parker. It turns out Pi is really talking to another castaway on the Pacific Ocean who happens to be a blind Frenchman. It's one thing to mumble a few words to yourself, but it's another to imagine talking tigers who morph into French castaways. What do you think causes Pi's madness here? Hunger? Loneliness? Or even guilt?
I was getting used to the mental delusion. To make it last I refrained from putting a strain on it; when the lifeboat nudged the island, I did not move, only continued to dream. The fabric of the island seemed to be an intricate, tightly webbed mass of tube-shaped seaweed, in diameter a little thicker than two fingers. What a fanciful island, I thought. (2.92.9)
Yes, what a fanciful island, Pi. Martel really tests the limits of believability here with an island made entirely of seaweed. (Don't forget this island is also carnivorous and eats humans.) Do you believe this part of the story? Has Pi gone totally mad or is this development no stranger than a tiger and a boy trapped together on a lifeboat?
[Mr. Okamoto:] "I'm sorry to say it so bluntly, we don't mean to hurt your feelings, but you don't really expect us to believe you, do you? Carnivorous trees? A fish-eating algae that produces fresh water? Tree-dwelling aquatic rodents? These things don't exist."
[Pi:] "Only because you've never seen them."
[Mr. Okamoto:] "That's right. We believe what we see." (3.99.47-9)
Some define madness as seeing things that don't exist. But Pi slyly questions this definition. Considering, especially, Pi's love for and obsession with God, it's a hop, skip and a jump to a defense of the Big Guy. It's possible Pi is asking Mr. Okamoto a super-secret hidden question: does the fact that most people don't see God mean God doesn't exist?