I've Moved!

Atheist Morality is now West Coast Atheist at Wordpress. Stop on by and feel free to comment over there!

04 March, 2013

Life of Pi: Major Spoilers

I'm going to talk about both the book and the movie, Life of Pi. I'm going to be talking mostly about the ending. If you haven't seen the movie or read the book and want to, I suggest you skip this post.

First, is Life of Pi religious? Well, sort of. There are definitely religious themes. The character, Pi, tells the writer he's relaying his story to, "I will tell you a story that will make you believe in God.

The first part of the book centers around the main character's religious discoveries in India. He ended up practicing Hinduism, Christianity and Islam at the same time. It wasn't shown in the movie, but there is a part in the book where his three spiritual leaders meet him on the street and start arguing, trying to claim him as their own and he tells them something to the effect of "I'm just trying to know God," and they all shuffle off embarrassed that they let their dogma get in the way.

The second part centers around his adventures at sea, which I'm sure you know involves a life boat and a tiger, and in the last part of the book the writer does some investigating on his own and hears the tape of Pi's account to the Japanese men. Contrary to the movie, Pi doesn't tell the writer the story he told the Japanese men involving the cook, the sailor and the zebra, the writer learns about it from the tapes. In the movie, Pi tells the author the story and then asks him which he prefers. I think this difference leaves a slightly different impression on the theme of the movie, making it seem more pro-religious than it really is.

In the book, the adult Pi is living his life and telling his story as if it really happened with a tiger, a zebra and a hyena. He's chosen what he wants to believe about what happened because of how painful the event was. He claims to have a story that will make a person believe in God, but that's not what it does. The author and the Japanese men don't believe the story with the tiger over the more likely story involving humans, but they choose to tell others that the former is true. It's less a push for God than an admittance that we humans will interpret the events in our lives in a way that we are comfortable with and that are in line with our past experiences. It's more about the human condition than the question of god.

The movie, trying to end on a more uplifting note than the book (not that the ending of the book was particularly dark), slightly gears it toward the "you can choose to believe in God" thing. I don't think that was the author's intention and I think that Pi's simultaneously believing in three completely contradictory religions at the same time early on in the book lays the foundation for the theme of introspection and perspective on one's own life. I don't remember the skepticism of the father being as prevalent in the book as it was in the movie, either (granted, it's been awhile since I read the book, so I could be wrong, but I think the father is supposed to replace the three religious leaders that argue in the street over Pi's faith).

What I took from the book was that you can pick how you're going to perceive the events in your life, not that one should pick one perception over another. I, personally, would have (and do) believe the story revealed at the end and see the fantastic story about the tiger as a salve for the terrible events that occurred. Which would you pick?

1 comment:

  1. Life of Pi seems to be a story, not about religion but does graze the surface of faith. Faith is a property of value to everyone, religious, spiritualist or atheiest. When one chooses to believe in something, anything, faith comes into play. Even if it is faith in logic, reason and science.

    In the end, neither story presented is the right one or a true accounting of events. After all, the movie, or book if you prefer, is a fabrication—a story about stories, and a good one at that. If it arouses questions about morality and faith the author has given more than entertainment value.