Darwinian Theory and the ‘Life of Pi’ Essay

Darwinian Theory may be used to explicate Yann Martel’s fresh ‘Life of Pi. ’ While the novel is an aesthetic portraiture of spiritualty. pureness. and practicality. it is however non immune to the issues of scientific cogency. materiality. and determinism. In this paper. the writer will research the relationship of Darwinian Theory with the nucleus constructs in the novel. These nucleus constructs are. in general. assumed to be in struggle with the rules of Darwinian Theory. However. this premise may be relaxed as the writer sees fit. Novel Summary

Piscine ‘Pi’ Molitor Patel lives in Pondicherry. India – a male child described as ‘curious. reasonably. and deep-rooted with larning. ’ His male parent is the proprietor of the Pondicherry Zoo. His female parent is an devouring reader of assorted literary plants. Much of the protagonist’s larning experience came from school. Hi school is filled with astonishing instructors – many of whom became personal wise mans of Pi. Although he grew up as a Hindu. he discovered the Catholic religion at the age of 14 from a priest named Father Martin. However. upon run intoing Mr. Kumar. a Muslim. he changes his spiritual orientation by practising Islam.

Pi openly defies the usage of spiritual conservativism by recommending liberalism in worship – he regards Catholicism. Islam. and Hinduism as legitimate faiths. At the age of 16. Pi’s father decides to abandon Prime Minister’s Gandhi due to some political and ethical issues. The household is forced to travel to Toronto. Canada. The animate beings in the menagerie are dispersed to assorted menagerie in the United States. On their manner to Canada. the boat out of the blue sinks. Merely Pi survives – stuck with a deceasing hyaena and a zebra. While fighting in the shark-infested H2O. he saves Richard Parker. a Bengal tiger.

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In the boat. predatory animate beings prey on herbivores and the carcases of dead animate beings. For seven months. Pi hides on a raft behind the boat. He is able to chasten Parker utilizing a whistling. Parker seems to develop fondness with Pi – Parker becomes the close spouse of Pi. While at sea. Pi learns to eat from the sea. However. because the nutrition derived from the sea is deficient to feed the two. both Pi and Parker become ill. As the wellness of both Pi and Parker deteriorate. the former loses his sight. Then. they come across another blind adult male – a individual stranded in his lifeboat on the Pacific.

The blind adult male intends to kill and eat Pi. However. the tiger ( Parker ) onslaughts and eats the unsighted adult male. Pi. nevertheless. sheds cryings for the unsighted adult male. uncluttering his sight as a effect. For a long period of clip. the two suffered from the flagellums of the seas. Then. they come across an island made of algae and populated with the alleged Meerkats. Pi begins to eat algae and bit by bit regains his strength. Parker besides regains his strength by eating Meerkats. For several hebdomads both Pi and Parker live on the island. Both are really happy and about optimistic of life.

Finally. Pi finds several sets of corroded human dentition wrapped in tree foliages. Pi is horrified. Pi realizes that during the dark the algae become acidic. The island becomes carnivorous – one index of which is the kiping wont of the Meerkats. Meerkats sleep at dark to avoid danger. His find sends trembles on his organic structure – a feeling of hopelessness and desperation tally in his head. The following twenty-four hours. he leaves the island with Parker. After passing so much clip in the ocean. Pi eventually lands in Mexico. Parker runs off into the forests. Pi is finally recovered by villagers who instantly take him to a nearby infirmary.

The transportation company which owned the ship interviewed Pi. Pi narrates his narrative to the representatives of the company – his 227-day journey on the boat and the antic narratives of his experiences with Parker. the Bengal tiger. and of class. the ‘dangerous’ island. The representatives of the company do non believe Pi’s narrative and hence ask Pi to associate another narrative. Pi narrates a 2nd narrative. In the narrative. the cook of the boat kills both his female parent and a crewman with a broken leg. Pi kills the cook. The company representatives realize that Pi’s 2nd narrative analogues the first.

Pi asks the representatives which narrative they like the most. The representatives agree they like the first narrative and the 1 they will utilize in their study. Darwinian Theory in the Novel In the first portion of the novel. Darwinian Theory seems to be contradictory with the nucleus constructs of the narrative. The narrative advocates the constructs of spiritualty. freedom of scruples. pureness. and religious beginning of humanity as the chief determiners of man’s journey in life. In the beginning. Pi’s life is governed by these rules. as apparent by his deep-rooted committedness to the principles of religious life.

Pi believes that the hereafter of humanity depends on man’s committedness to his religious beginning. Humanity is above philistinism. bias. and the natural Torahs of choice. version. and battle. Hence. humanity is defined non by the distinctive features of deterministic life but by pick and freedom. If one uses Darwinian Theory. one can clearly see the contradictions. Darwinian Theory suggests: We have seen that adult male endlessly presents single differences in all parts of his organic structure and in his mental modules.

These differences or fluctuations seem to be induced by the same general causes. and to obey the same Torahs as with the lower animate beings. In both instances similar Torahs of heritage prevail. Man tends to increase at a greater rate than his agencies of subsistence ; accordingly he is on occasion subjected to a terrible battle for being. and natural choice will hold effected whatever prevarications within its range ( On the Origin of Species. 147 ) . In short. the hereafter of humanity is governed by the rules of battle. fluctuation. and version. To deny the material beginning of adult male is to deny his nature.

The distinctive features of man’s being. is hence. clouded by prevarications which perpetuate in the human mind. Darwinian Theory nowadayss adult male in the most material signifier – adult male originated from lower signifiers through a perpetually long periods of clip. In his book ‘The Descent of Man. ’ Darwin clearly defined the nature of adult male. Harmonizing to Darwin. adult male is an omnipresent species selected by nature to perpetuate in the universe. His chief tool for endurance is knowledge or technological promotion. However. this ‘advantage’ is non a going from natural choice. battle. or version.

Rather. it is portion of nature – ungoverned by either pick or freedom – and subservient to the logic of development. In short. adult male is related to other species in one manner or another. In the novel. Pi’s artless expectancy of jobs and its eventual declaration are presented as natural and instinctual. With this. one is forced to mention once more to Darwin’s averment which states: He who is non content to look. like a barbarian. at the phenomena of nature as disconnected. can non any longer believe that adult male is the work of a separate act of creative activity.

He will be forced to acknowledge that the close resemblance of the embryo of adult male to that. for case. of a dog- the building of his skull. limbs and whole frame on the same program with that of other mammals. independently of the utilizations to which the parts may be put- the occasional re-appearance of assorted constructions. for case of several musculuss. which adult male does non usually possess. but which are common to the Quadrumana- and a crowd of correspondent facts- all point in the plainest mode to the decision that adult male is the co-descendant with other mammals of a common primogenitor ( The Descent of Man. 74 ) .

Darwinian Theory begins to attest itself in the 2nd portion of the novel. Pi’s struggles in the boat present three concrete rules of Darwinism: battle. version. and competition. Pi’s battles are by and large linked with the actions of other signifiers of life beings – the zebras. hyaena. the serpent. and the Pongo pygmaeus. The boat represents a little universe where the Torahs of Darwinism govern everything. Harmonizing to Darwin. it is impossible for a human being to be separated from the discretion of nature. from the actions of other beings. and the aimless world of philistinism ( On the Origin of Species. 59 ) .

The formal regulation of human being is no more different from the formal regulation which governs nature. Harmonizing to Darwin. battle is the formal regulation of being: As the missletoe is disseminated by birds. its being depends on birds ; and it may metaphorically be said to fight with other fruit-bearing workss. in order to allure birds to devour and circulate its seeds instead than those of other workss.

In these several sense. which pass into each other. I use for convenience sake the general term of battle for being. A battle for being necessarily follows from the high rate at which organic existences tend to increase … for merely battle can guarantee the endurance of every life being ( On the Origin of Species. 32-33 ) . In short. Pi’s struggles in the boat are non an stray signifier of version but a existent manifestation of the Torahs of nature ( which Darwin established in his book ‘On the Origin of Species’ ) .

Natural choice is similarly manifested in Pi’s escapades in the island. The kiping wont of the Meerkats is congruous with the environment of the island. Note that during dark. the island becomes ‘carnivorous’ and the algae turns into a settlement of acidic beings. In order for the Meerkats to boom in the island. they must accommodate to their environment. Their version will function as a medium for natural choice – a species capable of reproducing.

As Darwin noted: But in the instance of an island. or of a state partially surrounded by barriers. into which new and better adapted signifiers could non freely enter. we should so hold topographic points in the economic system of nature which would assuredly be better filled up. if some of the original dwellers were in some mode modified ; for. had the country been unfastened to in-migration. these same topographic points would hold been seized on by interlopers.

In such instance. every little alteration. which in the class of ages chanced to originate. and which in any manner favoured the persons of any of the species. by better accommodating them to their altered conditions. would be given to be preserved ; and natural choice would therefore hold free range for the work of betterment ( On the Origin of Species. 42 ) . Note the similarity of Darwin’s averments to the secret plan of the narrative. The leaning of endurance depends foremost and foremost on the ability of beings to accommodate to their environment. Adaptation serves as a medium for natural choice ( as in the instance of the Meerkats in the novel ) .

Decision The novel can be analyzed through the lens of Darwinism. It is clear that the novel contains elements of Darwinism. However. one should observe that this signifier of reading is neither deterministic nor ageless. Other types of reading may be used to analyse the novel ( such as pragmatism. deconstructionism. structural linguistics. etc. ) Works Cited Darwin. Charles. On the Origin of Species. London: London Publishing House. 1870/1992. Darwin. Charles. The Descent of Man. New York: MacMillan Printing Company. 1882/2001. Martel. Yann. Life of Pi. New York: Alfred A. Knopf Canada. 2001.