Life of Pi
There's an interesting blurring of divisions between man and the natural world in Life of Pi. Human beings become more animalistic; animals become more human. The novel warns against projecting human values onto the animal world. However, the novel also admits it's impossible to experience anything without a way-of-being. The trick, therefore, is to make concessions to other species. Animals in the zoo, while essentially retaining their instincts, take on certain domestic, human-like traits. Human beings in the wild, while still retaining a few human traits, become more animalistic. Through this exchange human beings may learn – dare we say it – a spiritual truth or two about themselves and the natural world.
Questions About Man and the Natural World
- Does Richard Parker seem more savage than Pi? Is Richard Parker more spiritually attuned than Pi?
- Think of all the times Pi mentions "the eating of flesh." How does he characterize this act?
- Explain how Pi could call the mako and blue sharks swimming below him "beautiful."
- Which settings in the book are "man-made"? Which are "natural"?