Juxtaposing “Crude reality” with fiction “for the sake of greater truth”, Yann Martel’s ‘Life of Pi’ illustrates the influence childhood experiences can have our lives, ultimately preparing us for adulthood and the challenges which lie ahead. The lessons Pi learns in his childhood essentially play a vital role in his survival at sea with the illusive figure of Richard Parker. Whilst some skills that Pi acquires in his early childhood plainly aid his future adventure some are not as blatantly obvious, none the less they are still fundamental in his survival and adult life.
Pi’s early childhood experiences provide him with the basic skills required to survive his future voyage at sea as having learnt to so swim at age seven by Francis Adirubasamy “Mamaji” essentially proves vital to survival at sea. Moreover, his vast knowledge of animals, having grown up at a zoo, helps him tame Richard Parker regardless of which story entails the ‘truth’. Furthermore, pi’s experience of watching a tiger kill a goat in his early childhood taught him the fundamental lesson ‘an animal is an animal’, enabling him to strategically and mentally survive his long and testing time at sea. However, perhaps more fundamental in influencing his future adventures and childhood are not the skills that he acquired in his youth but instead the deeper knowledge of himself and the world around him attained through his religious beliefs.
Pi’s belief in pluralism and acceptance of the three religions, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam aid his future and is a crucial part of his survival at sea, his faith in knowing “so long as god is with me, I will not die” gives him the mental strength and will power to survive his ordeal. Furthermore, the three religions and the stories they impart shred a light on and explore the diverse perceptions of truth, from the “Dry, yeastless factuality” modern depiction of truth. Ultimately, allowing him to manipulate the truth in order to be at peace with the “crude reality” of his ordeal.
Pi’s childhood experiences and teachings learnt in Pondicherry play a vital role in his future adventures and adult life, shaping him and giving him the skills and inner strength required to survival 227 days at sea.