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Comparison of “Life of Pi” and “Moby Dick”

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    In Life of Pi, when Pi was a young boy, he was dared by his brother Ravi to “Run into that church and drink the holy water” (Life of Pi). As he attempts this, a clergy confronts him in a respectful and polite manner asking him if he is thirsty. This interaction abolishes Pi’s preconceived stereotypes about Christians. Pi reflects on this and thinks “he was very kind. He treated me like a grown-up.” (Martel 58) Pi continues to visit the church to learn more about Christianity, and as a result, he adds Christianity to his list of religions. In human nature, water is essential for survival.

    The human body can survive approximately twenty-one days without food, but only three to four without water, as at least sixty percent of the adult human body is composed of water. It is essential for both humans and animals, as Pi says “here, Richard Parker, I have some water for you.” (Life of Pi) Pi understands that if Richard Parker doesn’t drink soon, he will die or turn to Pi as an alternative option. In these two cases, water leads Pi to the Christian faith, therefore changing his life, and it also allows him to live longer when he offers it to Richard Parker who trusts him in return. In Melville’s Moby Dick, the sea itself acts as a symbol of life. Both humans and animals that rely on it to survive. A sea is a peaceful place full of dangers, which is what makes it such an unpredictable habitat. Ever since Captain Ahab lost his leg to Moby Dick, he dedicated his life to searching for and slaying the whale. He says, “I’ll chase him round Good Hope, and round the Horn, and round the Norway Maelstrom, and round perdition’s flames before I give him up” (Melville 209).

    In this novel, Moby Dick is used to symbolize life itself. He represents our purpose in life, in the sense that many people spend their whole lives chasing what they believe is their purpose and sequentially leave this world without ever reaching or achieving it. Moby Dick’s white colour is also of extreme significance. In science, white light can be viewed as the absence of all light or a combination of all three main colours of a prism. In Captain Ahab’s situation, he believed that his purpose and entire existence was focused on slaying Moby Dick. However, like the colour white, it may have seemed like it was a combination worth everything when in actuality, he was chasing emptiness. Melville states “To Ishmael the whale’s indefinite whiteness shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation [it’s] a color-less all-color of atheism from which we shrink” (Melville 238). Furthermore, the sea can give life, and take it away as well.

    When Ishmael was aboard The Pequod, he witnessed many people go overboard, many of which could not be rescued. He saw a “Man swallowed up in the deep” (Melville 318). Occurrences like these opened Ishmael’s eyes to the fact that the world is a place in which not everyone is treated fairly, and that someone does not necessarily need to deserve a calamity it for it to occur. Like life, the sea can be unpredictable when experiencing it, and it may additionally strengthen your mindset.

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