Consisting of a young boy, a lifeboat, a tiger and a vast blue ocean, Yann Martel's Life of Pi delivers a fantastical tale of survival between profound storytelling, all while answering to the decision of modern literature. With modern literature consisting of various style elements and aspects, Martel delivers a fresh form of fiction that fuses fantasy and actuality into his own masterpiece, described by the New Jersey Star-Ledger as "greater than a hint of magical realism, and a wallop of sheer storytelling genius". Yann Martel presents Life of Pi in that manner which directly attracts the characteristics of modern literature in an application that stylistically emphasizes his story-telling and blurs the lines of fantasy and non-fiction.
Specifically evident within the "author's note" preface of the novel, the audiences' ability to filter the factual and imaginative information may end up being a hard feat especially without the correct knowledge that Martel acquired in the writing of his novel. Presenting it in a matter of a 'story within the story' Yann Martel intertwines his actual journey through India, including his arrival to Matheran, the hill station closest to Bombay and the Pondicherry gardens, with the fictional occurrence of meeting a man in a coffee shop and the setting of a zoo within those gardens. As the novel continues, fictionally Martel is lead to Piscine "Pi" Molitor Patel who tells his adventure and allows Martel to retell it; leading to an additional story within a tale complex. In supporting his fictional detail, Martel adds by the end of his author note:
It seemed natural that Mr. Patel's story should be told mostly in the first person- in his voice and through his eyes. But any inaccuracies or mistakes are mine" (Martel XI)
Therefore adding to the audience's persuasion of the existence of Pi Patel and the events which follow as being true; fully exhibiting an element of modern literature as "what sort of story is told [becoming] as important as the storyplot itself".
The birth of such a novel occurred while "[He] was hungry" (Martel VII) and in dire need of a new muse and way to obtain inspiration, as his previous work had perished. Martel openly addressed a premise he previously long been exposed to and then had long forgotten. Ten years before the Life of Pi, Yann Martel found an assessment regarding a novel which have been disregarded as simply forgettable; however the basis of the novel struck a chord within him. As Martel states in his original article CAN CERTAINLY MAKE MONEY wrote Life of Pi
. . . the ship sinks and one lone Jew ends up in a lifeboat with a black panther. . . I marveled. What perfect unity of your energy, action and place. What stark, rich simplicity.
It was later, during his second tour of India with a minimal point in his career that Martel found himself at a hill station near to Bombay which was peaceful and blessed with being "un-indian". At that moment he recalled the lost premise:
Suddenly, my mind was exploding with idea. I possibly could hardly match them. In jubilant minutes whole portions of the novel emerged full formed: the lifeboat, the animals, the intermingling of the religions and the zoological, the parallel stories.
Where did that moment of inspiration come from? Why did I feel that religion and zoology would make a good mix? How did I think up the theme that the truth is a story and we can choose our story therefore you will want to pick "the better story"?
. . . in reality, I don't know. It simply happened. Some synapses in my own brain started firing off and I came up with ideas that were not there a moment before.
After years of research, interviews and complete immersion in the "Indianness" of his character, Martel's end result was regarded as phenomenal; claiming to make one have confidence in God. However, having established the novel on such a dangerously advanced of expectation, Life of Pi failed to meet that specific expectation. Instead, it accomplished a far more subtly stunning feat of making the reader feel a need to believe in God. This is done so with centering the premise of the novel on belief and faith. As religion is a debatable subject and many feel inclined to question such a system, Martel leveled his purpose with the intention of not focusing on the system of religion but instead the instillation of faith (much like he centered on the storytelling than the level of actuality to that your novel was written). Hence the reason why the protagonist, Pi Patel, is characterized as a multi-faith individual, equally practicing Islam, Christianity and Hinduism. With each religion being completely different in its own distinctive ways and finally consisting of a little rivalry, Martel can harness the meaning and reason for religion to reflect a generalized unity and belief system known as faith. Regardless of which ideology a person chooses to check out their remains one common connection within humanity, displaying just one more aspect of modern literature in addressing connections between people. As Martel himself describes within an interview, he "[Chose] three religions because [he] wished to discuss faith, not organized religion, so [he] wished to relativize organized religion with Pi practice three".
In an identical light, Yann Martel draws a parallel along with his main character and theme of religion and faith. The symbol Pi, being an irrational number without discernable pattern, is employed to come quickly to terms with locating a 'rational' understanding of our universe; much like finding order out of chaos. However, the novel also presents a similar religious ideology in the actual fact that religion is specifically composed of irrational, unexplainable material, yet humanity is able to come together and discover order and reason from such something, resulting in what we regard as faith.
Yann Martel delivers through his pages the data of "desperate times call for desperate measures" as when Pi is confronted with desperation, he loses all sense of propriety. As stated within the novel "it is simple and brutal: a person can get accustomed to anything, even killing". In that dire situation, Pi's true faith is tested at a point where uncompromising faith is necessary most. The vegetarian Pi Patel disregards his morale and taste flesh in order to survive. Martel address the timeless theme that man will undoubtable abandon any stict morale and commit to what would otherwise be sin, yet at the same time they feel their strongest connection to god, begging for His help as well as for Him to be their savior.
Numerous reviews have cited Life of Pi as being comparable to The Old Man and the Sea, a short novel compiled by Ernest Hemingway. This simple, reserved classic can be read as merely another adventure story, but for many readers similarities are drawn between the epic struggle of man and beast and their fight for supremacy. The Old Man and Pi learn they must respect their opponent because each is linked to them through the mutual suffering and source of strength, with the animals being their true counter-part as they reflected human behavior.