Importance of companionship in "The life of pi" by Yann Martel vs "The Old Man and the Sea" by Ernest Hemingway

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Harsh Patel

Mrs. Colwell


 4 June, 2012

Desire for Companionship

The deep desire of companionship is understood by an individual when stuck in an inescapable situation of loneliness and only companionship becomes the motif for success. In both novels, Life of Pi by Yann Martel and The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, characters experience isolation as they are stranded on a boat at a great distance from land. Protagonists Pi Patel from Life of Pi and Santiago from The Old man and the Sea, both undergo a strong desire of companionship when experiencing loneliness. As a result, the characters gain strength in order to survive and to reach their ultimate goal. Throughout their novels, Martel and Hemingway demonstrate the increasing desire for companionship when experiencing isolationism and solitary conditions consequently motivates one to strive for success.

        In both Life of Pi and The Old Man and Sea, the need for a companion increases in both Pi’s and Santiago’s life as they are exposed to difficult situations. After experiencing many dreadful and lonely days in the sea, Pi becomes more cheerful as he recognizes the potential companionship by Richard Parker, the Bengal tiger, on the ship. Pi begins to doubt his survival, as “[he] was giving up, [He] would have given up-if a voice hadn’t made itself heard in [his] heart…Yes, so long as Richard Parker is with [him], [Pi] will not die.”(Martel 143). Pi is ready to give up on life, but as he realizes that Richard Parker is assisting him at every step, Pi builds a trust towards him by showing his need for a support that distracts him from the harsh reality. Afterwards, Pi reaches his destination and he recalls Richard Parker for being there with him, but Parker abandons him as soon as they reach ashore. Pi confesses that, “Richard Parker had stayed with me. I’ve never forgotten him... I miss him. I still cannot understand how he could abandon me so unceremoniously, without any sort of goodbye.”(7). Pi has developed a strange love for Richard throughout the journey as Richard serves as a loyal companion, and he now is saddened by the fact Richard Parker leaves him after having such a strong attachment during times of solitude. In a similar situation to Pi, Santiago develops friendship with a fish. After experience the isolation at sea for many days, Santiago begins to admire the fish he catches. Santiago considers, “the fish as [his] friend too... he was sorry for the great fish that had nothing to eat and his determination to keep him never relaxed in his sorrow for him.” (Hemingway 59). Evidently, Santiago extends his feelings for the fish as he calls him “a friend” demonstrating his need for a companion during a desperate isolated situation. Furthermore, Santiago’s desire for companionship is not fulfilled by the Marlin and he remembers Manolin, the boy who is his co-sailor. Santiago, “wishes [he] had the boy, [he] could not fail and die on a fish like this.”(39) It is Santiago’s simple desire to have the boy, Manolin, with him in this time of loneliness showing his extended need for a companion which was not accomplished by the great fish. On one hand, Pi’s desire for companionship increases as he connects to Richard Parker. Similarly, Santiago expresses his desire for a companion by wishing the boy and presenting feelings for the fish. On the whole, one’s desire for companionship becomes stronger when undergoing a solitary situation.

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        As a result of extended companionship in the worst isolated scenarios, it motivates an individual to strive for survival. Richard Parker plays a significant role in Pi’s painful journey as his presence saves Pi from feeling extremely friendless. Pi admits that, “Richard Parker kept me from thinking too much about my family and tragic circumstances. He pushed me to go on living… [and] without Richard Parker, I wouldn’t be alive.”(182). Clearly, Pi’s will to live was all due to the presence of Richard Parker since he prevents Pi from becoming over depressed about his family as well as his horrible ...

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