Canadian author Yann Martel’s ‘Life of Pi’ published on September 2001 and its film adaptation screened on November 2012, is a contemporary adventurous fiction which primarily comprises under two genres one being adventure and the other being magical realism. The story is uniquely narrated from two alternating points of view, one from Pi’s flashback and the other Yann Martel himself as a ‘writer’. This narrative method allows the audience to decide which side of the story is real and acts as a counter point to Pi’s imaginative flashback. The plot of the novel is divided into three sections; Pi’s childhood, Pi’s treacherous 227 days long journey on the ocean and the present when Pi reminisces his journey. The fiction primarily dates back to 1977 and takes place in Pondicherry, the Pacific Ocean, Mexico and Canada. The story revolves around a young man named Piscine Molitor Patel who is nicknamed ‘Pi’ and his life after surviving a tormenting shipwreck while being stranded on the vast Pacific Ocean for 227 days. Pi is forced to share the boat with a large Bengal tiger named Richard Parker and other animals from a zoo that Pi’s father owned amongst them were an orang-utan named ‘orange juice’, a hyena and a zebra. Although these encounters are surreal they are given a deeper meaning through the eyes of the author. Yann Martel uses symbolisms, imageries and allegories to signify each theme and binds them with the objects and character used in the book to give it a sense of existence.
This leads to the rise of the following question “To what extent has symbolism used in the Life of Pi contributed to the significance of the themes and motifs and thereby the over all plot”. In an attempt to answer this question, the symbols explored were the color orange, the name Pi, the Japanese ship (Tsimtsum), the animals on board the life boat, the life boat itself and the island. These symbols were also explored in order to reach a conclusion while a general representation of each symbol was also deciphered for this task.