That’s what fiction is about, isn’t it, the selective transforming of reality?
The twisting of it to bring out its essence?
Storytelling is central to Life of Pi. Two first person narrators tell this extraordinary tale and both the ‘author’ and Pi expect us to accept the story as truthful. Despite the many factual details, neither voice can be considered totally reliable. In Life of Pi, Yann Martel seems interested in both blurring fact with fiction and with different understandings of truth.
Watch the trailer and consider how the author’s voice and Pi’s voice have been represented. How does it feel similar and different from the novel?
Allegory and symbolism, both of which are key to Life of Pi, are widely used in religious texts, particularly Hinduism. They offer readers a way into understanding complex ideas and concepts in concrete, accessible ways as well as taking the reader beyond the world of rationality and reason.
In a sense, this allegorical storytelling is itself one of Pi’s means of survival: ‘true’ events are perhaps too awful to imagine so the allegory can be interpreted as a way of avoiding and emotionally surviving the brutal reality of what happened.
Look closely at Chapter 56 in which Pi describes fighting fear in order to survive. Make a note of the figurative language he uses.
- How do you imagine the director will transform these ideas in the film?
- What might be lost and what gained by a visual interpretation of this chapter?
Find other examples of Pi’s internal dialogue in the novel and consider how the director Ang Lee might represent these moments?