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Life Of Pi | Analysis

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1154 words Published: 17th May 2017

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The book “Life of Pi” shows the Freud’s theory on the unconscious mind in one’s personality. According to Freud’s theory, the mind can be divided into two main parts, which is the conscious mind and the unconscious mind. Unconscious mind is the greatest, and most potentially threatening is unseen from the surface. The conscious mind is actively aware of all that is going on. But the unconscious mind influences one’s personality and behavior without even noticing it. In other words, this underlying influence is what each and everyone is unaware of. Pi experiences both conscious mind and unconscious mind. He was consciously planning carefully how he was going to survive in the sea by planning how he was going to spend his food so that food doesn’t run out of supply. His conscious mind paid huge contributions in helping him to survive in the sea. When Pi was young, his father brought him and Ravi to the zoo to witness the brutality of the animals. He threw a goat into an enclosed cage with a tiger. As expected, the tiger eats the goat ferociously. Pi’s father’s purpose of doing so was to explain how dangerous animals could be. Pi was unaware that this gruesome event has changed his personality to become more ferocious. In order to survive in the sea, Pi killed fishes, sea turtles, a bird and meerakats to quench his thirst and prevent him to suffer from hunger. ” Hunger knows no friend but its feeder ” (Aristophanes 1) The quote means that when one is in the state of food deprived, one would do anything to satisfy the hunger. Pi unconsciously turned into someone else when he was food deprived. Pi was totally unaware of it because he relied on his survival instincts to keep himself alive against all odds. This clearly shows that hunger has drove Pi to act in ways that he never thought of doing in his years of life.

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Another Freud theory would be the Iceberg theory. Iceberg theory states that the soul of an individual is shaped like an iceberg. The part of the mind which is visible for all to see is the superego and the ego, both are the rational parts of the mind. What lies beneath the surface is a much larger area that is kept away from the public view, in other words, another self that is kept hidden away. Although Pi is a person who has his religions best interest at heart, he is deeply principled, however, he has an animal inside of him who later presents itself throughout his ordeal at sea. And that animal would be Richard Parker. ” It was a state of tense, breathless bored. ” (Martel 155) demonstrates that Pi was feeling forlorn and bored on the raft. This is the reason Richard Parker is Pi because it was all the imaginations of Pi. Pi had his survival instinct, Richard Parker inside of him. ” I held on to one thought: Richard Parker. I hatched several plans to get rid of him so that the lifeboat might be mine. ” (Martel 210) The id is the driving force of the unconscious. It was fear of death that drove Pi to come out with the six plans to get rid of Richard Parker. His id was so overwhelming that it overcomes his superego because he wants to stay alive. This shows that a person’s id dominates the superego when one is struggling in between the life and death situation. Pi would not be able to survive if his superego was stronger than his id.

Besides that, Pavlov had a theory about conditioning. The theory suggests that association to the unconditioned stimulus is made with the conditioned stimulus within the brain, but without involving the conscious part of the mind. Pi shows this theory by using a whistle to condition Richard Parker. ” TREEEEEE ! TREEEEEE ! TREEEEEE! ” (Martel 127) Moreover, Pi gives Richard Parker a share of his food and water in order to manipulate his mind in thinking that he needs Pi in order to survive. In such a way, Richard Parker has been conditioned to follow Pi’s commands using a whistle, food and water. The sound of the whistle acted as if it was a whip and a chair used by the ringmaster to tame the lion in a circus. Pi came up with a series of training program to condition Richard Parker such as make him drink from a pail, supplying him with food and ask him to do tricks by jumping through a hoop to let him know that who is the alpha. It successfully helped Pi to survive with Richard Parker. Pi also conditioned Richard Parker by playing his feces. “To display his feces openly, to flaunt the small of them, would have been a sign of social dominance.” (Martel 283) Richard Parker has been conditioned to rely on Pi to survive. Thus, the theory of Palvol is clearly shown in “Life of Pi.”

In addition, in the story “Life of Pi,” there is also the theory of human motivation proposed by Abraham Maslow. There is a hierarchy of Maslow in conjunction with the Maslow’s theory. The hierarchy of Maslow is depicted as a pyramid made up of five levels in total. Firstly, the lowest level and also the dominant level is the physiological needs. The others are growth needs namely safety, love, esteem and self actualization. Physiological needs such as air, food and water are vital to ensure human survival. When one is satisfied with physiological needs, with equal passion, one sought for safety which is the second level of hierarchy of Maslow. Pi was motivated to live by fear. Richard Parker was the one who inflicted fear on Pi to keep him surviving. ” I must say a word about fear. It is life’s true only opponent. Only fear can defeat life. ” (Martel 214) Pi was motivated to not give up on his life so easily. Instead, he fought like a warrior so that he could survive this painful tragedy. Pi also admitted that if Richard Parker was not exist, he would already gave up on his life. ” It was Richard Parker who calmed me down. It is the irony of this story that the one who scared me witless to start with was the very same who brought me peace, purpose, I dare say even wholeless. ” (Martel 216) This quote has proven that Pi survived the loneliness in the company of Richard Parker.

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In conclusion, the story “Life of Pi” is the perfect material to be analyze under psychoanalytic lens as there are various parts of the story which touches the primacy of Freud theory, Iceberg theory, Palvol theory and Maslow’s human motivation theory. Being stranded on a deserted island, the hunger, fear and pain are the natural instincts one could have. These natural instincts are also the literal requirements to the key of survival. “It may not be a scientific truth, but it’s psychological truth.” (Aldiss 1) this quote means that a person’s personality and behavior may not be able to be proven scientifically, but it can be proven psychologically.


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