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Life of Pi – Significance of Color Essay

A woman once said, “There is no life without color. ” This is just the case with the main character of “The Life of Pi”, Pi Patel. Pi is a cast away on a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a tiger, an orangutan, a hyena and a zebra. There is one color that was mentioned multiple times throughout the story, the color orange. In the novel “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel, this color is used as a symbol for hope and survival. To hope means to wish for something with expectations of its fulfillment. Pi’s case is a pristine example of hoping for something.

He has many instances when he gains hope throughout the novel, including building a raft, landing on the island, or even finding the food in the locker of the lifeboat. The most important, is the hope Pi is given through his companion on the lifeboat, Richard Parker, a four hundred and fifty pound Royal Bengal tiger. Being the color orange, the tiger becomes an example of hope throughout the book. Pi realizes, to keep himself, Richard Parker, and the will to survive alive, he must tame the tiger. “I had to tame him. It was at that moment that I realized this necessity.

It was not a question of him or me, but of him and me. We were, literally and figuratively, in the same boat. We would live–or we would die–together. ” (Martel, 164) Keeping Richard Parker alive would allow Pi to constantly remember that he is not the only one suffering and he has someone there for him, whether he can answer or not. Although Pi has many reasons to be hopeful, the author gives the reader reasons as well. Prior to the scene of the sinking of the Tsimtsum, an interviewer and reporter that is talking to Pi about the sinking of the ship describes visiting Pi later in life at his home in Canada.

He meets Pi’s family and mentions that Pi’s daughter, Usha, holds an orange cat. “Leaning against the sofa in the living room, looking up at me bashfully, is a little brown girl, pretty in pink, very much at home. She’s holding an orange cat in her arms. ” (92) This scene guarantees the reader that the end result of the story and Pi’s life will be not total tragedy. Pi has a life where he has been successful and has children of his own. While in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Pi’s only goal was to survive.

Items on the boat and religion truly gave him this will to survive, and Pi was more capable of surviving with them in his presence. While on the lifeboat, Pi has an orange life jacket with an orange whistle, an orange buoy, a bright orange tarpaulin, and a four hundred and fifty pound Bengal Tiger. Pi is thrown on the lifeboat by Chinese men with a life jacket already on him. “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. (105) The life jacket is used by Pi in constructing a raft to have a safe place away from Richard Parker, and the whistle is used by taming the large tiger. He utilizes his bright orange survival equipment to stay alive and keep away from Richard Parker. For most of the voyage they take on the lifeboat, Richard Parker remains under the tarpaulin, even from the beginning. After Pi is pushed overboard into the lifeboat, he says “I couldn’t see Richard Parker. He wasn’t on the tarpaulin or on a bench. He was at the bottom of the boat. ” (106) Richard Parker having orange fur, is a symbol of survival.

He keeps Pi alert and continuously reminds him of his situation. Religion played a big part of Pi’s life, and he prayed three times a day every day while he was on the boat. His family’s religion is Hinduism, and orange is the color of the second Hindu chakra, which are believed to be centers of the body from which a person can collect energy in the religion. Throughout his entire journey, he was always in contact with something that was the color orange, and that is why it becomes a symbol of survival. Every item and detail of his trip aids him in survival, and is part of the outcome of him being rescued.

The color orange will always be remembered by Pi and readers as the color of hope and survival. The color gives readers hope for Pi and gives Pi the will to survive because of the possessions that are that color. The items Pi has on the boat all aid in his miraculous survival, just as Richard Parker and the religions he practices provides a measure of emotional support. These help the young boy maintain hope in this horrific tragedy. But above all, the orange color of survival and hope will always be known as the color that kept him alive.


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