"What might the island and its true nature symbolize?" Referring to chapter 92 in the book Life of Pi. I have read this book, and the ending really confused me. I read sparknotes to...

 "What might the island and its true nature symbolize?" Referring to chapter 92 in the book Life of Pi.

I have read this book, and the ending really confused me. I read sparknotes to try and clear up questions, but what sparknotes tell me, and what my teacher say are two different things. Sparknotes writes as if the island is real. However, my teacher says that Pi imagined the island due to his health (food, water, heat, isolation). I don't have a clue as to what the island could symbolize...

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Good question! First, set aside the question of whether the island was real or not. All we have is the story Pi tells his listeners, and us. They doubt it at times—doubt if it is factual—but the core points are these: Pi is telling a story that is deeply important to him, and a story about an experience that changed his life. He went through deprivation, and he was already a deeply religious person. He was primed for hallucinations, visions, and so on. The island might be such a vision. It might not. It doesn't matter for the symbolic meaning. As a symbol, the island represents nature that should be nurturing. It is a beautiful oasis, a refuge—or it should be. Can you imagine what you'd want to see more than a lush island when you're at sea? Then to have it be this unnatural thing that would eat you…wow. That's an intense betrayal, the dark version of Eden. That's the symbolic meaning.

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