This whole book, Life of Pi does not follow any modern structures set by society that we know of today, especially the structure set by society regarding religion. Although the main character of the novel, Piscine Molitor Patel, is a native Hindu, he supports not only Hinduism but Christianity and Islam as well on the pretext that he loves God and that all these three religions are no different than the other.
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Unlike ordinary people who supports either one religion or not at all, Pi supports three religions; Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. Pi was first introduced to Christianity in Chapter 17 where he entered a church for the first time and was introduced to the role of Christianity. “I was fourteen years old – and a well-content Hindu on a holiday – when I met Jesus Christ” (Martel 67). Pi was introduced to Christianity at the age of fourteen and was a Hindu at the time. This represents post-structuralism due to the fact that people only support one religion and do not believe in associating themselves with those of different religions, let alone entering other religious buildings.
At the time, Pi was on holiday visiting a place called Munnar. Pi felt that “Despite attending a nominally Christian school, I had not yet been inside a church – and I wasn’t about to dare the deed now” (Martel 68). This connotes the structured view of only believing in one religion. However, when Pi entered the church and met Father Martin he became interested in the story of Christ and at the aspect of Christianity. “Why would God wish that upon Himself? Why not leave death to the mortals? Why make dirty what is beautiful, spoil what is perfect?” (Martel 72). A sense of post-structuralism is present since it is believed that God is immortal and cannot die. However, in the story of Christ, Jesus had died at the cross to save us.
However, in the story of Christ, Pi’s interest was piqued. Pi conveys a sense of post-structuralism since he supports not only Hinduism but Christianity as well. “I entered the church, without fear this time, for it was now my house too. I offered prayers to Christ, who is alive. Then I raced down the hill on the left and raced up the hill on the right – to offer thanks to Lord Krishna for having put Jesus of Nazareth, whose humanity I found so compelling, in my way”, (Martel 76). This emphasises post-structuralism through the fact that Pi prays to both Jesus and Lord Krishna of Christianity and Hinduism.
After successfully becoming a Christian and a Hindu, Pi sets off, a year later, to join Islam. “Islam followed right behind, hardly a year later.” (Martel 77). Post-structuralism can be seen here as even though he already supports two religions, Christianity and Hinduism, which is not the example of a typical fifteen year old boy let alone any person, he gets interested in Islam. As of now, Pi currently supports three religions, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam for the only reason that he loves God.
During this timeframe, it is when Pi is introduced to a Muslim baker. Pi makes conversation and during that conversation, the baker is called to prayers through the different sound of a muezzin, which is significantly different to Christianity which uses bells. “And right there before me, in the midst of his work place, he prayed” (Martel 80). Post-structuralism is present here in the form of the prayer. It is unusual for Muslims to perform prayer in front of other religions without some hostility. Martel does this to introduce Pi to each religion comfortably. It also reveals Martel’s true post-structured views on religion.
While witnessing the baker performing prayer, Pi was thinking that “Islam is nothing but an easy sort of exercise. Hot-weather yoga for the Bedouins. Asanas without sweat, heaven without strain” (Martel 80). Usually, most would assume that the baker is in prayer. However, Pi believes that Islam is just a form of exercise and not able to be considered a religion. However, when he returns to see the baker, he is told that his religion is about the Beloved. Martel informs us that Islam is a beautiful religion of brotherhood and devotion (81).
Later on in the novel, in Chapter 23, Pi is confronted by the three religious men, the priest, the pandit and the imam, on a Sunday walk with his family. Since everyone in Pi’s family, save for Pi, is not religious, this chapter presents many post-structuralism views. These three religious men bring out the truth from Pi stating that he cannot be a Christian, a Muslim and a Hindu and that he must choose. The very fact that this chapter exists is to display the structure of only being able to support one religion and the post-structure towards the supporting of three different religions. They further emphasize the structured religion by stating that there is only “freedom of practice – singular!” and that he “can’t be a Hindu, a Christian and a Muslim” (Martel 92).
On the other hand, Pi demonstrates post-structuralism by stating that “All religions are true. I just want to love God” (Martel 92). Pi’s views on religion are not structured since structurally you can only believe in one religion; this connotes Pi’s actions as post-structuralism. As Pi’s reason for supporting three religions is only to love God, the three wise men could do nothing as you “can’t reprimand a boy for wanting to love God” (Martel 93). This line is both structured and post-structured. Although it is set by society that religion is just a way to love God and there is only one way to do it, Pi clearly does more than support one religion which represents post-structuralism.
Not long later, Pi’s support of three religions once again comes into play in chapter 26. This chapter, once again, demonstrates Pi’s post-structured views and his parents structured views. When Pi approaches his father to talk to him about being baptised and about having a prayer rug, Martel demonstrates a structured view through Pi’s father about religion; with him stating that “You can’t be both. You must be either one or the other” (96). In a way, Martel is demonstrating the structure in which society has set with Pi’s father representing the whole of society.
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Pi, on the other hand, demonstrates a post-structured view on religion. In response to his father’s views, and to society’s, he states that “That’s not what they say! They both claim Abraham as theirs. Muslims say the God of the Hebrews and Christians is the same as the God of the Muslims. They recognize David, Moses and Jesus as prophets” (Martel 96-97). Martel uses Pi to convey his post-structured view across to the audience by stating the similarities between the three religions. Due to the fact that society has stated that Christianity, Hinduism and Islam are completely “separate religions! They have nothing in common”, Pi is used to connote Martel’s post-structuralism views.
Post-structuralism is once again displayed through Pi’s argument with his mother, with her taking the role of society. Martel demonstrates structuralism through Pi’s mother stating that “if you’re going to be religious, you must be either a Hindu, a Christian or a Muslim. You heard what they said on the esplanade” (98). This establishment of structure is necessary to effectively communicate Martel’s post-structured view of religion across towards the audience.
Pi then retaliates by stating that “I don’t see why I can’t be all three. Mamaji has two passports. He’s Indian and French. Why can’t I be a Hindu, a Christian and a Muslim?” (Martel 98). Martel uses Pi to show that there is nothing wrong with having three religions and that having structures set by society is not always necessary to be followed. Martel uses Pi and breaks down those religious, structured views set by society and replaces them with his views regarding religion structure.
These structures set by society come into play shortly after as Martel switches our focus towards the important discussion of whether to allow Pi to be baptised and have a prayer rug. “We’re a modern Indian family; we live in a modern way; India is on the cusp of becoming a truly modern and advanced nation – and here we’ve produced a son who thinks he’s the reincarnation of Sri Ramakrishna” (Martel 99).
Martel conveys structure through Pi’s parents with them believing that support of more than one religion is not possible. Pi ignores this and resumes his quest to love God. “Sometimes, upon finishing my prayers, I would turn and catch sight of Father or Mother or Ravi observing me, until they got used to the sight” (Martel 103). Martel shows Pi’s quest to love God through his praying.
Life of Pi contains not only structured views set by society but also shows the post-structured views of Martel. Martel’s views on structure are concentrated mostly on religion, more accurately on Pi’s attitude towards religion. Since Pi supports more than one religion solely for the purpose of loving God, Martel demonstrates his post-structured views on religion.
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