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Life of Pi

Life of Pi


by Yann Martel

Suffering Quotes in Life of Pi

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #4

It is pointless to say that this or that night was the worst of my life. I have so many bad nights to choose from that I've made none the champion. Still, that second night at sea stands in my memory as one of exceptional suffering, different from the frozen anxiety of the first night in being a more conventional sort of suffering, the broken-down kind consisting of weeping and sadness and spiritual pain, and different from later ones in that I still had the strength to appreciate fully what I felt. (2.46.1)

Often we hear protagonists say, "It was the worst night of my life," in order to communicate his or her extreme suffering after a particular event. But Pi says, "I have had so many bad nights to choose from that I've made none the champion." Pi exposes the oddity of awarding one night or the other the prize of "Worst Night." We know he's a real expert on pain, because he describes different types of suffering: "frozen anxiety" versus a more conventional "broken-down kind consisting of weeping."

Quote #5

They were dead; I could no longer deny it. What a thing to acknowledge in your heart! To lose a brother is to lose someone with whom you can share the experience of growing old, who is supposed to bring you a sister-in-law and nieces and nephews, creatures to people the tree of your life and give it new branches. To lose your father is to lose the one whose guidance and help you seek, who supports you like a tree trunk supports its branches. To lose your mother, well, that is like losing the sun above you. [...]. I lay down on the tarpaulin and spent the whole night weeping and grieving, my face buried in my arms. The hyena spent a good part of the night eating. (2.46.10)

Suffering – grief – becomes carnivorous. After enumerating his losses, Pi zooms out to picture the whole lifeboat. Now we know that the hyena, while Pi grieves, is tearing into the zebra. Pi's juxtaposition – grief next to a ravenous devouring – provides a metaphor for bereavement.

Quote #6

Orange Juice lay next to it, against the dead zebra. Her arms were spread wide open and her short legs were folded together and slightly turned to one side. She looked like a simian Christ on the Cross. Except for her head. She was beheaded. The neck wound was still bleeding. It was a horrible sight to the eyes and killing to the spirit. (2.47.16)

Pi returns to the mystery of Christ's suffering (see 1.17.27). Now Orange Juice figures into the Christ-as-sufferer equation. That means Pi compares Christ not only to human beings in his suffering but to animals. It's also possible Pi elevates Orange Juice's suffering to divine proportions. We don't have to choose one or the other.

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