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What is a passage from Life of Pi that is representative of the author's writing style?

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brandih | eNotes Employee

Posted August 15, 2013 at 8:42 PM via web

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What is a passage from Life of Pi that is representative of the author's writing style?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 16, 2013 at 7:22 AM (Answer #1)

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There is something in this novel that makes an overall stylistic quality hard to pin down. This is in part of course because of the way in which there are three distinct voices in the novel, of which Pi is only one, and Pi is presented as a character who is partial in his account, and the other two voices make the reader suspect that he may in fact also be unreliable. However, what is distinct about Pi's account is that he attempts to moralise, and to draw conclusions that are instructive and present his own view of the world. Consider the following passage, taken from Chapter 25, which comes after his first introduction to "inter-faith dialogue," when his commitment to various religions is exposed. Talking about people who feel the need to defend God, Pi says:

These people fail to realise that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart. Meanwhile, the lot of widows and homeless children is very hard, and it is to their defence, not God's, that the self-righteous should rush.

This passage is typical of the somewhat didactic style that Pi assumes in his narrative account. It combines both simple, compound and complex sentences to make its point. It also demonstrates one of the themes of the novel, which is Pi's search for spiritual transendence. Of course, this section of the novel, occurring before his shipwreck, presents the reader with this theme that will dominate Pi's time at sea, and introduces the reader to a character who is determined to search for spiritual meaning in life, no matter what befalls him.  

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