I am trying to write a comparative essay for Yann Martel's Life of Pi. I need a suggestion for a similar book, poem, or song in order to compare and contrast it to. Any suggestions? If there are...

I am trying to write a comparative essay for Yann Martel's Life of Pi. I need a suggestion for a similar book, poem, or song in order to compare and contrast it to. Any suggestions?

If there are any suggestions, please also include the similar themes and or lessons between the two.

Expert Answers
reyemile eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Some texts that can work well to compare and contrast with Life of Pi are the following:
 
Poems:
  • "The Tyger" by William Blake - to compare with descriptions of Richard Parker or Mahisha, the tiger from the zoo in Chapter 8
  • "Woman at the Washington Zoo" by Randall Jarrell - to explore the concept of anthropomorphism
  • "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge - also about an extended journey at sea 
Short texts:
  • "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - magical realism
  • The story of Noah's Ark; the story of the Garden of Eden (to compare with Pi's carnivorous island)
Longer texts:
  • Inferno by Dante - the "circles" of hell tie in nicely with Chapter 78, when Pi describes his experience as a "harrowing ballet of circles"
  • The Odyssey by Homer - also about an extended journey at sea and the effort to reach home
  • The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, by Edgar Allan Poe - the character Richard Parker is named for a character from this novel
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson - an adventure story that Pi indicates he has read back in Part One; could help establish that he has stretched the truth of his experience to make it more exciting
  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe - the story of a castaway who lived away from society for an extended period of time. Another example of a novel Pi has read
 
For a focus on the quest for the meaning of life, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho might work nicely, and Arabian Nights would serve well if you wanted to focus on the role of stories in making sense of life.
literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Themes Yann Martel illustrates in Life of Pi (according to the eNotes theme page for the novel) are as follows: 

-Quest for the meaning of life.

-The centrality of stories in making sense of life.

-One's identity is shaped by the niche in which one finds oneself.

-The essence of life is in the details.

Numerous texts can be found which illustrate similar themes. Suggestions for texts will be broken down by theme.

Quest for the meaning of life: Louis Lowry's The Giver, Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, and J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye

The centrality of stories in making sense of life: Elie Wiesel's Night and Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. 

One's identity is shaped by the niche in which one finds oneself: Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, Twisted, and Wintergirls, Jennifer Brown's Hate List, and Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha. 

The essence of life is in the details: Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being