LOP Compare and Contrast Essay
Introduction: Was Life of Pi a true story of a boy stuck out in sea for 7 months with a Bengal tiger, or all a lie that constantly toyed with our brains? This was a question that always kept readers of the book and viewers of the movie perplexed about which story was the accurate one and is what made it such a success. In the movie, Ang Lee directs the story with his own take on a vast variety of visual details. The book however has many contrasting ideas and themes with the movie. There are many similarities and differences in the book and movie, but some overall themes are Pi and his struggles, the supporting characters, and Pi’s relationship with animals being portrayed in both but sometimes differently. Similarities: The first similarity between the movie and the book is how Pi was portrayed in the book and movie. In both versions Pi is an intelligent young man who has a great love of God and all that is spiritual. Piscine Molitor Patel is a deeply religious person who intrigued not just by his Hindu teachings and practices, but by Christianity and Islam as well. Also during his shipwreck days he stayed very religious throughout both of the representations and constantly kept his faith in god throughout the ordeal while slowly losing his innocence when desperate times called.
Another similarity is that Pi’s mother, Gita Patel, is portrayed as a loving mother and protector of Pi. When Pi relates another version of his story to his rescuers, she takes the place of Orange Juice on the lifeboat which he describes her as, “She came floating on an island of bananas in a halo of light, as lovely as the Virgin Mary” (Martel 111). She symbolizes his protector from the vicious hyena or cook in both of the representations. Gita literally means in Hindi the sacred song of God, which plays along in the overall story of Pi’s love for God and the visions he sees in the movie of his mother which push him to fight for his survival.
The last similarity is Pi’s relation to the animal story and the human story of the lifeboat. Pi clearly retold what Martel had written exactly in the book for the movie because Ang Lee would not want to take out one of the most important features of this novel. The characters that were represented
by people stayed the same, the zebra was the Taiwanese sailor who broke their leg, the hyena as the cook who turned into a cannibal and brought out Pi’s inner Richard Parker, and Orange Juice was Pi’s mother who stood up to the hyena and represented the Virgin Mary. Though the stories were similar, the insurance men have a hard time believing his story with animals but concur it was the better story and leave us with the mind blowing statement of Pi ,”So it goes with God.” (Martell 317) which makes us truly ponder the essences of both stories. Differences: Adding on the similarities, there are also various differences shown between the text and film. The first difference is that the movie rarely showed much of the raw and grisly detail that went on and on in the text. After the shipwreck the hyena attacks and kills the injured zebra, and the novel vividly explains how the hyena eats the zebra alive from the inside out and eventually assaults and murders Orange Juice as well but only the attacks are shown in the film and none of the devouring or blood. The even stranger part with that is that the film does not show any bones from the dead animals in the lifeboat, and in it looks completely clean with barely any traces of blood or Richard Parker’s feces whatsoever.
Another difference that was left out of the film was about the two major supporting and conflicting characters, Satish Kumar. Mr. Kumar is Pi’s biology teacher at his school who is also an active Communist. He is Pi’s favorite teacher, and an atheist who sees the zoo as his temple. However, the other Mr. is a Muslim and a baker, with coincidentally the same name as the biology teacher. Satish the baker teaches Pi about Islam. His biology teacher influences him to study zoology in college while the baker helps lead Pi to study religion at college. The mentality of both Kumar’s are like a paradox; both believe in completely opposite ideas religiously, yet both believe strongly about their belief. This was how Pi was able to tolerate all religions and the people that follow them because he saw them from different viewpoints from the two. They were left out of the film, where Pi’s father took some traits from the atheist Satish Kumar and the Muslim Satish Kumar was never shown but in his place Ang Lee decided to put in a love interest for Pi.
The final difference between the two versions is the relationship between Pi and Richard Parker shown. In the film it shows that only after a few tries, Pi is able to gain as much territory as he likes on the lifeboat but Richard Parker continuously shows signs of aggression. The book, however, shows that Pi is knows a lot about animals from being raised practically in the zoo. He is very watchful around the adult Bengal tiger and knows the damage he can cause, but Pi gradually makes it clear that he is the alpha and Richard is the omega on the life boat. Pi is also more meticulous about his training and has Richard Parker doing tricks such as jumping through hoops near the end of the novel. Conclusion: All in all, the novel and the film were greatly told and visualized versions of the story which lead is through the seemingly impossible adventure of Piscine Molitor Patel and his companion Richard Parker. They both show the overall themes well but in different ways to tell the best story possible such as Pi and his struggles, the supporting characters, and Pi’s relationship with animals. But from the movie and book endings, which were slightly different because of the emotions, added from the movie, can lead everyone to their own conclusion about which one was real or not and shows us which kind of reality we would want to live in. The choice is what makes Life of Pi an interesting story to read and watch.