Harissh ThayalanMrs. FarrukhENG1DB57 January 2018Literary Essay-Yann Martel’s use of Metaphors Many sources of literature rely on the use of metaphors to enhance their writing. Metaphors are used to make complex topics much more understandable and help make certain situation much more comprehensible. Yann Martel has used this literary device to not only improve the level of writing but to also allow the reader to better understand various components of the novel.
After the wrecking of the Tsimtsum, Pi Patel is the lone survivor stranded on the Pacific ocean. Pi’s survives on a raft along with the Bengal Tiger, Richard Parker, on his 227-day ordeal. The use of metaphors is crucial in understanding prominent aspects of the story such as religion, animals and the environment. Metaphors help enhance the reader’s understanding of the thematic topic, religion. One of the three main religions explored by Pi in the story is Christianity. Yann Martel uses metaphors to give the reader a deeper understanding of the religion.
An example is, “In a second everyone was laughing. It fell away as we filed into the class. I walked in last wearing my crown of thorns. (Martel 25)” This is a metaphor comparing Jesus Christ’s situation to Pi’s. Jesus wore his crown of thorns during his crucifixion which is when Jesus Christ was killed. In the time of the crucifixion, Jesus Christ was in a period of pain and suffering. While Pi walked in, he was also suffering because of how his classmates treated him. This is a huge part of Christianity as Christians pray to Jesus.
The metaphor helps the reader further understand this thematic topic because the quote isn’t blunt and straightforward. It takes time to understand. Another example is when Pi was talking to the professor about his input on religion. Mr.Kumar said, “‘I don’t believe in religion. Religion is darkness.
‘(Martel 28)” Obviously, religion is not darkness and Mr. Kumar is comparing the darkness to his past and his disbelief. This metaphor is perfect in explaining the different beliefs and perspectives people have on the topic of religion in this story. In brief, this is a metaphor explaining Mr. Kumar’s disbelief in religion. Mr. Kumar explains about how he was plagued by polio and God didn’t save him, science did causing him to not believe in god’s existence. This is how metaphors give the reader a deeper understanding of religion.
The prominent and recurring topic of the animals is portrayed by the use of metaphors. Near the end of the story, through Pi’s storytelling to the Japanese officials, we learn that the animals represent the cook, the sailor, Pi’s mother and Pi. The animals are representative of one another and are compared when Pi is telling the two stories to the Japanese officials. Knowing this we can come to the conclusion that the animals itself are metaphors. The Bengal tiger, Richard Parker, is a metaphor that is compared to Pi.
The text says, “‘Then we fought and I killed him. He had no expression on his face, neither of despair nor of anger, neither of fear nor of pain.(Martel 244)” Just like how Richard Parker kills the hyena, Pi kills the cook. This quote helps to show the similarities between Pi and Richard Parker and also helps make the two more comparable.
Using this quote we can confirm that Pi and Richard Parker are comparable and can be used as a metaphor for one another. The orangutan, Orange Juice is a metaphor that is compared to Pi’s mother. The text also says, “The next time the cook was close by, Mother slapped him in the face, a full hard slap that punctuated the air with a sharp crack. It was something shocking from my mother.
And it was heroic. (Martel 337)” This quote helps prove that the orangutan is a metaphor for the mother. This quote explains how the mother “battled” the cook like when orangutan did. This quote helps to the orangutan and the mother to become more comparable as an analogy. In conclusion, Yann Martel’s use of metaphors helped portray the thematic topic of the animals.
While on the 227-day ordeal, Yann Martel use of metaphors is a key factor in explaining Pi’s suffering. While Pi is thinking about his family and in deep sorrow because of what had happened, he uses a metaphor for how he felt about his brother loss, a loss that was so dear to him causing him to suffer even more; “To lose a brother is to lose someone to whom you can share the experiences of growing old, who is supposed to bring you a sister-in-law and nieces and nephews, creatures to people the tree of your life and give it new branches.(Martel 141)” From this metaphor, we can see Pi’s view on his family as he compares his family to a tree.
The family is the tree and the members are the branches. Simultaneously, the metaphor is discretely talking about how Pi feels about his brother and how close he was to him. Also, because of their tight relationship, Pi is suffering even more from the loss. When Pi was acting quite delusional and was at the peak of his suffering, he was praying to god for the deadly ordeal to be over.
Pi used a metaphor to help portray his suffering; “Despair was a heavy blackness that let no light in or out. It was a hell beyond expression.(Martel 232)” At this point, Pi’s suffering has almost reached its climax and he has almost reached his limit.
He compares the despair to a heavy blackness. In this metaphor, Pi is saying that there is nothing that can help despair (as no light is let in). This is how Yann Martel uses metaphors to portray the thematic topic of fear. The thematic topics, religion, animals and the natural world are all explained and further understood by Yann Martel’s use of metaphors. In this story, the metaphors are there to help the reader think deeper about religion as Pi’s survival revolves solely around religion throughout the ordeal at sea. The thematic topic of the animals were metaphors themselves and gave greater meaning to the story overall.
Lastly, Pi’s suffering was illustrated by the discrete use of metaphors in this story. Metaphors in this story are not mere quotes and have been constructed by an applaudable amount of thinking which is why it is important to analyze them. Yann Martel’s use of metaphors help enhance the literature and make this novel a better read.