All livings things have one thing in common, the will to survive. Every living thing wants to survive, and they will all do whatever it takes to survive. Yann Martel’s Life of Pi shows exactly that, the struggle that a teenage boy goes through in order to survive. He abandoned his beliefs and used his mind, courage, and strength in order to survive and make it to the shores of Mexico. Without hope, the will to survive, and belief in himself, Pi would not have been able to survive all of the obstacles, hardships, and problems he had to face; which is shown through symbols of the tiger, the colour orange, and the lifeboat.
First, the tiger which is a symbol of hope and an important part of Pi’s journey and survival. Richard Parker which is the name of the tiger, is the only other being that is with Pi. Because Richard Parker is with Pi, he is able to feel less lonely while on the island, which is important as it helps keep him sane. He also keeps Pi on his toes as, he is a tiger after all and his animal instincts could kick in at any moment.
Pi says “A part of me did not want Richard Parker to die at all, because if he died I would be left alone with despair, a foe even more formidable than a tiger. If I still had the will to live, it was thanks to Richard Parker” (Martel 182). He helped Pi by keeping his will to live: “It’s the plain truth, without Richard Parker, I wouldn’t be alive today to tell you my story”(182). Without Richard Parker’s company and the fact that the tiger could kill him, Pi would not be distracted and would be focusing on the fact that it would nearly impossible to survive.
Which would lead him to lose his will to survive. Also, in Pi’s original story Richard Parker kills a hyena and saves Pi’s life. But, when he tells the story again, the French cook is the hyena and Pi was the one who killed him. Pi says, “A knife has a horrible dynamic power; once in motion, it’s hard to stop. I stabbed him repeatedly. His blood soothed my chapped hands” (345). Pi is a religious and peaceful person, and because of this he could not mentally face the fact that he killed a man. So, in order to cope with all of the bad things he had to do in order to survive in the island, Pi turned that part of him into a vicious tiger. This makes Richard Parker a symbol of hope and Pi’s will to survive. Richard Parker and Pi formed a friendship that ultimately helped Pi to survive.
Secondly, the colour orange is another symbol of hope and survival as it gives Pi emotional and mental support that helps him keep his hope of survival while in this situation. While drifting on the Pacific Ocean, all of the objects that Pi comes across that enable him to survive are all the colour orange: the lifeboat, lifejacket, whistle, buoy, and tarpaulin. Before being thrown on the lifeboat he says, “One of the men interrupted me by thrusting a life jacket into my arms and shouting something in Chinese. I noticed an orange whistle dangling from the life jacket” (115).
This tells the readers how important the lifejacket is for his survival and how the whistle is orange. When he sees shark fins, he reaches for an orange lifebuoy that helps him reach the lifeboat. He says, “If there hadn’t been the lifebuoy I wouldn’t have lasted a minute”(117). When he finally reaches the lifeboat he secures himself to an orange tarpaulin by using an oar and the lifebuoy. Which helps keep him out of danger keeping his hope of surviving the wreck. Pi says, “[the orange colour] is the colour of survival because the whole inside of the boat and the tarpaulin and the life jackets and the lifeboat and the oars and most every other significant object aboard was orange”(153).
The objects also represent Pi’s will and strength to continue on, and his decision to try to survive. Also, Pi meets animals that colour is orange and forms relationships with them. They keep Pi company, one of the animals an orange orangutan named Orange Juice is with Pi. He ends up considering Orange Juice to be a great mother, and describes her “as lovely as the Virgin Mary”(123). Orange Juice becomes a light to Pi that he greatly needed, and after he recuses Orange Juice from the ocean she starts feeling sick.
This makes Pi laugh and he says, “laughter was like a volcano of happiness erupting in me. And Orange Juice had not only cheered me up; she had also taken on both our feelings of seasickness. I was feeling fine now”(135). Seeing Orange Juice feeling seasick makes Pi forget about his unfortunate situation and makes him laugh and feel happy again. Therefore, having all of those orange objects and Orange Juice helps Pi. They become a symbol of survival and hope to Pi, they represent the fact that Pi will have a solution to not only help him physically but also emotionally.
Lastly, the lifeboat which is a symbol for a place of safety and one of Pi’s only hope of survival. Pi is stuck on dangerous and vast ocean, having only the lifeboat which gives him food, water, friendship, and a hope for survival. This is said by Pi, “There was not a shadow of doubt about the matter: to leave the lifeboat meant certain death” (163). Even though he is an danger the lifeboat is keeping him alive and helping him survive. Pi is an a tough situation that not alot of people can handle and instead of giving up which he contemplated doing he chooses to survive.
He says, “Life on a lifeboat isn’t much of a life. It is like an endgame in chess, a game with few pieces. The elements couldn’t be more simple, nor the stake higher’ (210). Comparing his life to the end of a chess game, where most of the chess pieces are knocked off the board. Which is like his situation as the only ones who survived the shipwreck are Pi, Richard Parker, Orange Juice, the Grant’s Zebra, and the hyena. With the ones left put into a game of survival. Therefore, this shows that the lifeboat helps Pi emotionally and physically which ultimately helps him survive.
In conclusion, the tiger, the colour orange, and the lifeboat all contribute greatly to Pi’s survive and kept his hope of staying alive. The relationships he forms with Richard Parker and Orange juice help him emotionally cope with the situation. The orange objects help him physically survive and show him that he can survive. All of things that help Pi survive physically and emotionally are orange they keep Pi company and keep his hope alive which leads to his survival. The Life of Pi tells the story of a boy stranded on his own, who somehow keeps his will to live, through a tiger and an orangutan.