Life of Pi, written by Yann Martel in 2001, focuses on the unique attitude of the main character Pi Patel towards religions. He is Hindu; however, he has also embraced the following faiths: Christianity and Islam. Pi acknowledges every faith and absurdity that it might project on believers, and moreover, he is at ease with atheists as well as with any other religion. Besides, Patel admires every individual in terms of one’s attitude towards faith and devotion to superior beings.
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Yann Martel focuses on the main character’s attitude towards faith: he emphasizes that Pi Patel is strongly connected with religion from the early days. However, Partel’s memories are unclear, and he remembers only the smells and sounds of a Hindu temple. The main character realizes that he “became loyal to these sense impressions” before he even understood their meanings (Life of Pi). Nevertheless, Patel appreciates his religion and is thankful for its fantastical and life-affirming stories.
Strangely his faith results in him adopting another religion, Christianity, even though he is somewhat doubtful about the absurd story of Jesus. However, this is not an obstacle to his strong attachment towards the God of Christianity. Pi acknowledges that he is greatly motivated by this religion as Father Martin, the priest Patel has met in the church (Life of Pi). Another critical point is that his loyalty to Christianity does not convert him from Hinduism (Life of Pi). On the contrary, he appreciates a Hindu deity for introducing him to Jesus, which leads to Pi’s powerful attachment to the new beliefs.
However, his path to finding his faith and understanding religion does not stop at only embracing and ultimately maintaining both religions but also encountering Islam. As it has happened with Christianity, he is highly skeptical at first due to the violence of a new faith. Patel gets acquainted with Mr. Kumar, who shows Pi Muslim rituals and explains Islam and its purposes (Life of Pi). Thus, once again, he is inspired by the devotion of Mr. Kumar to God in his own way, and he finds him respecting and loving Islam as a “beautiful religion of a brotherhood” (Life of Pi). The adoption of three religions does not scare Patel; on the contrary, he supposes that the idea of the world is the manifestation of God in any possible way, “Religion is a house with many doors” (Life of Pi). The main character is specific that there are no contradictions between Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity and that he can be devoted to three simultaneously.
Overall, Pi Patel appreciates the experiences of the religion’s rituals and what they teach not only him but every believer. The main character views his choice in the adoption of these faiths as his desire to love God. Even Patel’s family’s opposition to his opinion does not avert him from his own beliefs and viewpoints, and he stays loyal to Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam. In addition, his faithful attitude to every religion is inspiring and can be interpreted in the way that people should always respect others differences in faiths and not judge them. Society should be united in its love for God, and it should not matter what religion one has adopted and eventually continues to maintain. Faith should be accepted as motivation and inspiration that God gives to one and not focus on the differences of religion’s motives and aims.
Life of Pi. Directed by Ang Lee, performances by Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Rafe Spall, Tabu, Adil Hussain, and Gérard Depardieu, 20th Century Fox, 2012.