LIFE OF PI
My Analysis of the Ending
A breathtaking film with stunning visual effects, Ang Lee brought the Man Booker Prize winning novel to life. It has one of those twist endings that will leave you wondering and debating… spoilers ahead if you haven’t read/seen it!
In the end, Pi shares with us two versions of what happened out at sea.
I find it interesting that it seems everyone assumes one story has to be real and one imagined.
The question he asks is not which is true or false, it is “which do you prefer?”
BOTH stories have truth.
They are one and the same.
As in many things in life, you can choose to understand with a rational mind, or you can understand from the heart, viewing with spiritual and emotional eyes.
While logically speaking, it is likely that Pi was the one who killed the cook and saw the Japanese sailor and his mother cannibalized, it is also true that Richard Parker DID EXIST – within Pi. Richard Parker is an emotional aspect of Pi’s personality, the beast in him, the violent and animalistic side of human nature that we struggle with, and it has to be tamed. Richard Parker was very real to Pi in his 227 days out at sea. He was Pi’s companion and motivating force for survival. Just because Richard Parker was not present physically, does not negate his emotional truth.
Remember, Pi was a profoundly spiritual person who took on three religions at the same time and reveled in God’s fiery thunderstorms. Needless to say, there is a spiritual depth and deep philosophical introspection to the way he interprets and gives meaning to events in his life. By using allegories in his Richard Parker story, Pi could illustrate the complex ideas and symbolisms of things that happened, in an elegant (less horrific) story that people can pass on and relate to better – much akin to a parable.
Like love (and arguably like God)… “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart” – Hellen Keller.
Science is true, beyond a doubt. The purely rational will see science as just that – cold hard facts and proven theories about the world around us. Scientifically speaking, love is simply a heady concoction of chemical reactions in the brain. But if you view this fact with emotional/spiritual lens, you will understand love as a power far more magnificent than, well, mere brain juice. Yet, both are true are they not? Which version of love do you prefer?
Likewise, when Pi remarks, “and so it goes with God”, I believe he is saying belief in a higher power that seems fantastical and impossible has to be intertwined with an embrace of faith in the spiritual and emotional side of life. Only then are we more likely to accept that science & God, like Richard Parker and Pi, are not really mutually exclusive. That perhaps science is also the creative language of a God we cannot fully comprehend. The name Pi itself- the famous irrational mathematical number 22/7 that never ends – makes him symbolic of the unfathomable, mysterious complexities of our human existence we will never fully grasp.
He isn’t insisting either story is right or wrong. Hey, if you prefer the story without the animals, it’s okay too. But it would be a pity because you’re missing out on something deeper, something more beautiful.