Emotions, reasons and belief are three important tools of the human mind. They all operate in human mind but in different ways. Mohandas Gandhi once said that, “Faith must be enforced by reason, when faith becomes blind it dies,” (Seshagiri 59). This quote shows that reason is more important than belief. Without reason, human will never have faith and belief. The novel Life of Pi written by Yann Martel portrays how reason helps the main character, Pi to survive in struggle. Pi is the only survival of a shipwreck, he stays with a Bengal tiger, Richard Parker in a lifeboat for 227 days. Although Pi uses both belief and reason to help him survive, reason plays a more important role in his struggle. Firstly, reason helps Pi to think rationally before taking action. Secondly, the limitation of Pi will be reveal through reasonable thinking. Thirdly, with the help of reason, Pi is able to make a wise decision when he is in struggling situation. Thus, reason helps Pi to get through the struggle and makes him survive.
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First and foremost, reason helps Pi to think rationally and logically. Reason is “the power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgements logically,” (“reason”). Reason helps people to think about the effects and make a logical judgement before taking any action. In order to survive in struggling situation, a correct judgement is very important. This can be seen in the novel Life of Pi, Pi live on a lifeboat with Richard Parker for many days. However, Pi feels that Richard Parker is a dangerous animal that try to attack and harm him. When Pi discovers the presence of tiger, he said: “There was a tiger in the lifeboat. I could hardly believe it, yet I knew I had to. And I had to save myself,”(Martel 195). Thus, Pi decided to build a raft by using the life jackets in the boat and also the ropes from the locker. So that he can stay away from the tiger, the raft is floating away at a safety distance from the life boat. Pi builds the raft because he is able to think rationally according to reason. The reason he want to build the raft is to ensure his personal safety. This can be seen when Pi said: “I had fled the lifeboat to save my life,”(Martel 206). He knows that if he lives with a tiger, the tiger may harm him. Nevertheless, Pi and Richard Parker stop at the algae island for a time. Pi is very excited when he reaches the island, he said: “Richard Parker! Land! Land! We are saved!”(Martel 347). They wanted to eat the vegetation and drink the fresh water found on the island which is covered entirely with algae. This can be seen when pi said: “I passed the day eating, resting, attempting to stand and, in a general way, bathing in bliss,”(Martel 350). Pi can think rationally before he takes action. He is thinking according to reason, reason helps him to think about the importance of nursing themselves back to health. Thus, Pi and Richard Parker spend their time on the algae island in order to survive. In addition, man was considered to be moral then because of his possession of reason: “A human act which we term a moral act, has its specific character from an objective which is in relation to the source of human acts namely the reason,”(Donnelly 71). According to Donnelly, people are require to have reasonable thinking before taking action, “for all human beings there is a requirement to act according to reason, the quality which defines humanity,” (Donnelly 71). This shows that people are required to act according to reason. This is because reason makes people to have rational and logical thinking which can lead people to the pathway of survive. Reason makes Pi think rationally and hence he is able to survive in his struggle.
Secondly, Pi’s limitation is discovered by reason when Pi is in struggle. His limitation is helping him to survive in the critical condition. When people are suffering in struggle, reason will help them to discover their own limitation. Struggle is “make forceful or violent efforts to get free of restraint or constriction,”(“struggle”). People tend to make any effort in order to get rid of the struggling situation. The limitation of people is able to help people to go through the struggle and hence survive. This is because people are able to cope with the things that they cannot do it usually. In Life of Pi, the main character, Pi portrays that reason is able to discover human limitation. Before the shipwreck tragedy happened, Pi was a vegetarian. He doesn’t eat meat and he was unable to kill animals. However, during the process to survive, Pi transfers from a vegetarian to eat meat. When Pi finds some survival supplies in the lifeboat, he immediately drinks some can water and eat animal fat enhanced biscuits. At that time, Pi have to eat the biscuits that contain animal fat, Pi said: “pity about the fat, but given the exceptional circumstances the vegetarian part of me would simply pinch its nose and bear it,”(Martel 191). Reason makes Pi to realize that he will need to get rid of his vegetarian diet in order to survive. Furthermore, Pi is able to kill a fish as bait to catch dorado. As a livelong vegetarian, he cries during his first time killing a fish on the boat, because he never kills a fish before. This can be seen when “tears flowing down my cheeks, I egged myself on until I heard a cracking sound and I no longer felt any life fighting in my hands.”(Martel 245). Before this, he thinks that killing animals is a cruel action. Reason has discovered his limitation and makes Pi to kill the fish in order to survive, “killing it was no problem,”(Martel 247) said Pi. Pi even slaughters sea turtle by cutting the turtle’s neck and he drains the blood into a beaker, “bright red blood shot out. I grabbed the beaker and collected about three hundred mililitres,”(Martel 270). Pi drinks the turtle’s blood, he said: “I drank the blood to the last drop,”(Martel 270). He is able to drink the turtle’s blood and shell off the turtle’s shell with a knife. This can be seen when Pi said: “As confidently as if I had done it a thousand times, 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.”(Martel 269). This shows that Pi kills and eats animals in order to survive. Reason discovers his limitation and makes him to do the things that he is unable to do it in the past. Blaise Pascal once said that, “Reason’s last step is the recognition that there are an infinite number of things which are beyond it,” (O’Hear 20). Actually, people can do anything beyond their own expectation. However, there are not many motivations that can help to discover it. People limitation can be revealed by reason and people are able to cope with it. In order to survive, people will need the help of reason. Reason helps to discover and recognize their limitation. Reason helps Pi to discover his own limitation when he is in struggle and the limitation makes Pi to survive.
Lastly, reason helps Pi to make a wise decision when he is in a struggling situation. People are unable to make a correct judgement or a wise decision without reason. It is very important for people to make a wise decision when they are in critical condition. A decision can determine whether they can survive or not. This can be seen in the Pi’s character in Life of Pi. Pi decides to leave the algae island after he found out that the island is a carnivorous island, “This island is carnivorous. This explained the disappearance of the fish in the pond,”(Martel 378). Pi discovered a tree that holds a human tooth. After that, he tests this by dropping a meerkat onto the algae. At night, he watches the meerkat is scurry back up the tree. Thus, he decides to leave the island which he thinks has some kind of acid which can digest whatever on it at night. This can be seen when Pi said: “my grim decision was taken. I preferred to set off and perish in search of my own kind than to live a lonely half-live of physical comfort and spiritual death on this murderous island.”(Martel 380). He brings a plentiful of water, meerkats and fish when he leaves. The lifeboat finally comes ashore in Mexico and Pi is rescued. In addition, Pi decides to tame the Richard Parker. Pi said that: “I had to tame him. It was at that moment that I realized this necessity,”(Martel 218). During his struggle on the sea, Pi discovers that it is important for both Richard and he survive. The only way to accomplish this task is tame the tiger. Pi uses whistle to tame Richard Parker. “We were, literally and figuratively, in the same boat. We would live – or we would die – together.”(Martel 219). Pi knows that the reason to keep the tamed Richard Parker alive is that Richard Parker acts as a companion. Decision is very important in people life and it can make changes to people life easily. For instance, “decision was the source of John F. Kennedy’s power as he faced off Nikita Khrushchev during the tense Cuban Missile Crisis and averted World war III,”(Robbins 36). Kennedy makes a decision to have a secret agreement with Khrushchev which states that the Soviets will withdraw their nuclear missiles from Cuba and United States will withdraw their nuclear missiles from Turkey. This decision had successfully avoided World War III to happen. This incident shows that make a correct decision is very important, while reason plays a very important role to help people make their decision. The correct decision will helps people to survive in struggle. Pi has made the correct decision that help to survive when he stays in the lifeboat for 227 days.
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In a nutshell, reason is very important to help Pi survive in his struggle. The existence of reason helps people to think rationally whenever people are in struggling situation. Besides that, Pi’s limitation is discovered and revealed with the help of reason. Pi is willing to do anything that can help him to survive, including those that he was unable to make it in the past. Apart from that, reason also helps Pi to make some correct judgements and decisions that make him to survive. In the process to survive, reason plays a more important role compared to belief.
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