Yann Martel uses the island as a way to showcase Pi’s transition from the beginning of the novel to the end. In the beginning, Pi was very religiously focused and innocent. He had not yet been exposed to the cruelty and harshness of the real world and the animals that lived in it. As the book continued, Pi started to loose his values as he came in contact with more difficult situations. These situations, such as getting stranded at sea and having to kill the dorado and the sea turtle, showed his true nature. Being put in difficult situations such as life or death can bring out the saltiness in a person, just like it did for Pi. At the end of the novel Pi got rescued and ended up in a mexican hospital where he was questioned by two Jappanese investigators. Pi told two completely different stories, and Yann Martel had the reader choose which one they believe. Symbols in the book such as the island and alage really represent Pi throughout the novel, and show his sweet yet salty side. The author, Yann Martel, uses the island to represent Pi’s journey from his once innocent life style to a life of savagery and killing.
Pi grew up in Pondicherry India where his family ran a zoo. Pi was a very innocent child, and he didn’t realize that the world was cruel and so were the animals that live in it. As Pi grew up, his father noticed how naive he was. Pi’s father realized how important it was to care for wild animals, but also to fear for them. His father decided to make him aware of the worlds true savagery, by making Pi and his siblings watch a tiger devour a goat. Pi suffered throughout his life, and things such as religion and zoology helped him try and find some peace.“When you’ve suffered a great deal in life, each additional pain is both unbearable and trifling.” (5) Even though Pi suffered, and faced lots of hardships, he remained innocent until later in the novel when he gets stranded at sea and ends up on the island. Being stranded at sea made Pi venture off from his once innocent lifestyle. Pi’s life was pretty traumatic, so he turned to religion and zoology for comfort. Even though, while he was stranded he ventured from his religious bveliefs, the three differetn religions which were Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam stayed with him until the very end of the novel. Religion was so important to Pi he decided to choose three and it took some time, but Pi’s family accepted his decision to follow the three different religions.
Pi’s many negative and unpleasant life experiences caused him to lose his innocence. The traumatic incident of being in a shipwreck and getting lost at sea forced Pi to kill to survive which went against his once religious and innocent lifestyle. Pi really started to lose his innocence and evolve into the savage person he is when he killed the dorado. “I wept heartily over this poor little deceased soul. It was the first sentient being I had ever killed. I was now a killer. I was now as guilty as Cain. I was sixteen years old, a harmless boy, bookish and religious, and now I have blood on my hands. It’s a terrible burden to carry.” (183) Pi regretted killing the dorado and wept afterwards. He felt guilty for killing the dorado in such a violent and vicious way. Pi was sweet but salty in this scenario, just like the algae is on the island. The algae on the island was sweet on the outside, but once you got into the middle it was salty. Just like Pi is, he is sweet on the outside, but once he is put into a difficult situation his salty side shines through. Pi cried over killing the fish, but later in the novel he sawed open a sea turtle and butchered it to death. “ I jammed the knife just to the right of the turtle’s head, at an angle. I pushed the blade deep into the folds of skin and twisted it. The turtle retreated even further, favouring the side where the blade was, and suddenly shot its head forward, beak snapping at me viciously.” (201) This shows how he relates to the alage, by feeling remorseful for killing the dorado, but then later killing the sea turtle in such a horrible way.
As the novel came to an end Pi ended up in a mexican hospital, where two Jappaneese investigators interview him and ask him questions about his journey. Pi tells them his story of getting lost at sea on a life raft with Richard Parker the tiger, and the island with the alage. This part of the story was very unbelievable and had a carivius island and animals like Richard Parker in it. The investigators don’t believe Pi, so he tells them a story that was more believable with humans and not animals. The two stories were a way for Pi to be able to cope with what a terrible thing he had just been through. Both stories had sweet and salty components to them. The story with the animals was sweet and comforting to Pi, and made it easier for him to live with the terrible traumatic experience he had just been through. The story with the humans was more salty and it was the truth, which was a harder pill for Pi to swallow. Therefore, the author, Yann Martel left it up to the reader to choose and decide which one was more believable.
Pi’s journey from the start in Pondicherry India, where he was innocent and didn’t know the dangers of the world, suddenly evolved when he was lost at sea and had to make decisions that went against his past lifestyle. Being lost at sea for a long period of time brought out sweet and salty part of Pi. When Pi got rescued he had to find a way to cope with what he had just been through, so he had two different stories, and both had sweet yet salty parts to them. Yann Martel, used the island and alage to represent Pi and his journey of transitioning from innocent and sweet, to savage and salty.