In Life of Pi, how are key scenes distorted and how does this distortion relate to the overall meaning of the work?

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

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The major distortion, if you can call it that, in this story, is the way that Pi's second retelling of his trials illustrates the way that the truth of his account has been distorted. Asked for a "better story" than the one that we have just read by the two Japanese men who have come to see him and to find out what has happened to the steamer, Pi re-tells his story but in a way that makes the animals humans and presents a different version of the "truth." The two Japanese men find the parallels between the two accounts of the same story, but are unable to find a meaning to either account. At the end, they have to admit their ignorance, and as one of the Japanese men says, "I'm not inside this boy's head." The distortion of the truth thus relates to a key theme of this exciting novel, which is how we make meaning out of our lives and what happens to us by telling stories. Pi, for example, when he was stranded at sea first, told himself again and again what was happening to him, but these stories interestingly took many different forms. The novel points towards the presence of a multiplicity of stories to which we can turn in order to help make sense of our lives and our existence in the world. Any concept of one overarching "truth" is thus eschewed as the central character, as in his attitude towards religion, takes a pick and mix attitude towards the different stories that he tells.

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