Life of Pi Commentary IB A HL

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Life of Pi Commentary - Melanie Alexandra Ngai :-)

Yann Martel’s passage, Life of Pi, is about the narrator saving a bengal tiger, forgetting the fact that the beast will be a threat for his life.  The passage develops and explores ideas about nature, faith,  religion, trust and survival.  Throughout the passage, figurative language is used to make the reader fall into the narrators mind and think as the narrator, sensory imagery allows the reader to imagine the scene, structure allows the reader to read the passage without any difficulties, and the narrator is used to describe the situation, in this case the narrator is trying to save a tiger.  The overall effect of is to portray the effective ways in which Martel illustrates the feelings of the narrator and also what he is experiencing.

Throughout the prose passage, Yann Martel makes effective use of figurative language to convey to the reader on what the narrator is feeling and experiencing.  For example, in line 1, “The ship sank.  It made a sound like a monstrous burp.” The personification here shows that the ship was large and helps to describe to the reader the scene of the massive boat sinking.  Another personification here is actually in the whole passage, Yann Martel uses personification with Richard Parker and the other animals in place of real humans. An observation by Pi that is applicable in real life was the way he dealt with Richard Parker. By trying to befriend him, but keeping his distance at the same time, he conquered his fear of the big cat and eventually they sailed in the small life raft together peacefully. This can be applied to real life via bullies in school, or generally people that one can not get along with. By ignoring them, or by befriending them, the fearsome creatures in our lives can be conquered.  Symbols are also used in the passage, for example, if we interpret Richard Parker as a symbol for Pi’s survival instinct, it is interesting that Pi invites him to the lifeboat, it is an active choice, to survive, to become part beast. That he quickly regrets this decision, and realizes that it may imperil his spirit, is also significant.  The overall effect of using figurative language is to allow the reader to imagine the situation of the narrator.

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Throughout the passage, sensory imagery is used to create vivid images of the narrators ordeal at sea.  As in the first paragraph, lines 1-3, “The ship sank. It made a sound like a monstrous metallic burp. Things bubbled at the surface and then vanished. Everything was screaming: the sea, the wind, my heart. From the lifeboat I saw something in the water”.  With using depth descriptions like this Martel is able to create vivid images of Pi’s ordeal at sea. Whether it is his description of the boat sinking or Pi’s interaction with the wildlife in and out of ...

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