Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Explication of Falling Prey to Cruelty or Misfortune in Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Of George Polti’s thirty-six dramatic situations, the theme of falling prey to cruelty or misfortune is a situation in which a character (an unfortunate) is stricken by a master or misfortune, causing them to lose hope. "To infinite sorrow there is no limit," ("gordianplot.com") in this situation, and certainly in Life of Pi. "Beneath that which seems the final depth of misfortune, there may open another yet more frightful. [The seventh dramatic situation is] a ferocious and deliberate dissection of the heart ("gordianplot.com")". This having been explained, the seventh dramatic situation fits the character of Pi Patel perfectly in Life of Pi.
First of all, Polti’s seventh dramatic situation is characterized by having an unfortunate who is stricken by a master or misfortune, causing them to lose hope. It is characterized by having limitless sorrow. Indeed, Pi Patel, whose entire family is killed during the sinking of the cargo ship Tsimtsum is stricken by this type of sorrow. Even after his ordeal is done and he is being interviewed by Japanese investigators, Pi has only one response when they express their condolences. "Not as sorry as I am," he says over and over again. And although he is a victim of misfortune, he is in many ways a victim of his master, God, as well. After a moment of brief optimism, Pi says, "But God’s hat was always unravelling. Gods pants were falling apart. God’s cat [(Richard Parker] was a constant danger. God’s ark [(the lifeboat)] was a jail. God’s wide acres [(The ocean)] were slowly killing me. God’s ear didn’t seem to be listening. In this case, Pi’s master (God), is exhibiting cruelty towards him in the form of neglect, he interprets. This sense of abandonment only contributes to Pi’s suffering. Indeed, Pi does lose hope, and his sorrow is limitless, having lost everything but his life, which is still in danger from a 450-pound royal Bengal tiger. In the second story he tells, everyone in his lifeboat is killed off due to cannibalism and murder. In the end, he is left to fend for himself, alone in the middle of the Pacific. This fits Polti’s seventh dramatic situation perfectly.
The next descriptor of Polti’s seventh dramatic situation is characterized by being more and more hopeless as the story continues. Indeed, it does. After Pi realizes that his entire family is dead and his whole previous life is lost, he discovers that he is pitted in a lifeboat with a hyena and a 450-pound tiger. After the hyena is dead and he has learned to tame the tiger, he is still plagued by storms, imminent starvation, and even blindness for two days. While he is blind, he encounters another blind survivor in a lifeboat who attempts to kill him and is promptly eaten by the tiger, Richard Parker. When he discovers a mysterious oasis-like island with freshwater, copious amounts of algae, and meerkats, he finds that the island is actually carnivorous by night as the algae becomes like acid. It is only when Pi reaches land that his situation improves; nevertheless Richard Parker, his only ally throughout the entire ordeal, flees to the jungle without a hint of acknowledgement towards Pi. Indeed, through the entire duration of his ordeal, Pi’s situation becomes more and more unbearable to deal with.
Overall, Life of Pi fits Polti’s seventh dramatic situation, falling prey to cruelty or misfortune very well. Indeed, no other dramatic situation fits it in with the level of accuracy that this does. Pi, who is plagued by a crescendo of increasing sorrow and hardship after he becomes a lone shipwreck survivor is no doubt falling prey to misfortune. Furthermore, he also feels a sense of abandonment from his master, God, at times, and this abandonment amounts to the cruelty of neglect. Finally, his situation continues to get worse every time it seems like it is getting better. Hence, Life of Pi fits the seventh dramatic situation perfectly.

1 comment:

  1. You've matched the situtation well, but the explication is more about confirming the match rather than exploring the application of the topic. The second half especially starts to lose direction and drift into summary. Much more use of quotation from the text is expected.