What are some of the literary devices used by Yann Martel in The Life of Pi?

The character of Pi is developed through the use of several different strategies. Each new piece of information that is revealed about Pi adds a new dimension to his character. The use of the author's voice throughout the book also helps to create a fully fleshed out character. Readers see events through his eyes and hear his thoughts. This perspective enables readers to understand Pi's motivations and inner conflicts, which enriches the story and makes it more believable. A third way Pi's character is developed is by relating stories from his life to illustrate things he learned about himself or about others, or what motivates him to act in certain ways.

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Life of Pi is a great book, and the author uses a plethora of literary devices throughout the story. Something as simple as setting or dialogue is technically a literary device. Martel uses both of those to great effect. I especially love the final chapters of the book when the dialogue between Pi and the two interviewers is all that readers are reading.

Martel also uses characterization in this story, and he uses a mixture of direct and indirect characterization. He uses direct characterization in the book's opening chapter when he has Pi tell readers that he was a good student. Then there is a list of accomplishments that follows; this is indirect characterization that adds to the previous direct characterization. Pi can tell us that he is a good student, but we must infer that he is also a dedicated, hardworking, and motivated student. Pi is willing to "go the extra mile" in his studies. He's not simply willing to get good grades and behave in class. We aren't told this, but we infer it through Martel's indirect characterization.

I was a very good student, if I may say so myself. I was tops at St. Michael's College four years in a row. I got every possible student award from the Department of Zoology. If I got none from the Department of Religious Studies, it is simply because there are no student awards in this department (the rewards of religious study are not in mortal hands, we all know that). I would have received the Governor General's Academic Medal, the University of Toronto's highest undergraduate award, of which no small number of illustrious Canadians have been recipients, were it not for a beef-eating pink boy with a neck like a tree trunk and a temperament of unbearable good cheer.

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Hyperbole: The literary device that is used to exaggerate events in a story in order to add to the drama. For instance,

'It's a joke in the zoo business, a weary joke, that the paperwork involved in trading a shrew weighs more than an elephant, that the paperwork involved in trading an elephant weighs more than a whale, and that you must never try to trade a whale, never.'

This example is employed by the author to show the difficult task involved in selling wild animals by exaggerating the amount of paperwork required.

Simile: This literary device is used to compare items or situations that are not similar in order to draw emphasis to the object or situation being described. For instance, Richard Parker's claws are described as being "as sharp as knives."

Metaphor: The author also uses metaphors to emphasize certain events. For instance, when Pi is questioned about his practice of different religions, he states that his smile froze into a mask of horror. In this instance, the author tries to describe how uncomfortable the topic was for Pi.

Foreshadowing : Early in the story, Pi's father demonstrates to him how dangerous a tiger is in...

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a controlled environment. Later, Pi finds himself stuck with a tiger on the lifeboat.

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Clearly, any good work of literature is going to employ a number of literary devices, and so it is important for us as active readers to be familiar with the definition of literary devices so we are able to identify them and analyse them when we come across them in our reading.

Note Pi's description of his biology teacher in Chapter 7:

His construction was gemoetric: he looked like two triangles, a small one and a larger one, balanced on two parallel lines... His smile seemed to take up the whole base of his triangular head.

This quote features both a simile and a metaphor, as Pi compares Mr. Satish Kumar to two triangles and then, with an implied metaphor, again reinforces this comparison by talking about his teacher's "triangular head."

Also, consider the way in which the sunset is described in the following quote:

The sun was beginning to pull the curtains on the day.

Note the way that the sun is being personified through this metaphor, as it is given human qualities and actions as it is compared to a person closing the curtains at night time. Describing the sunset in these terms is also a metaphor.

Hopefully these examples will enable you to go back to the novel and try and find some literary devices yourself. Good luck!

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What strategies does the author, Yann Martel, use to introduce and develop character in Life of Pi?

Yann Martel's novel, Life of Pi, is certainly unique in the strategies it uses to develop the characters. Beginning with the author's note, the story of Piscine Patel unfolds. The narrator is an author (could be Martel, could be fictionalized—the lines are blurred) who is hungry for a story, and goes on a quest to find one after having been bitterly disappointed by his second novel's lack of performance. On his journey to India, he meets a man who tells him, "I have a story that will make you believe in God." Intrigued, the author tracks down Piscine Patel in Toronto, Canada, and Piscine (known as Pi) tells him his story. 

Throughout the book, the narrator's viewpoints are interspersed. He makes observations about Pi's life in the same fashion as an interviewer or a reporter. Readers learn about Pi's physical appearance, his abilities, like being a wonderful cook, and his surroundings. All this reveals more facets of the character of Pi than would be possible without this perspective, since throughout most of the book, Pi is the lone character shipwrecked with animals. 

Pi begins with his family history, the story behind his name, and his quest to find God through the study of three major religions: Catholicism, Hinduism, and Islam. Readers are drawn into Pi's quest to find God and are invested in his life by the time the shipwreck happens. Pi also relates his experience being a zookeeper's son. He has in-depth knowledge of many animals, especially the mind of a predator. His father was particularly careful to develop in Pi a healthy respect for predators. 

Once the family decides to move to Canada, the character of Pi is fully developed with backstory, motivations, and desires. If he were not such a well-developed character the story of the shipwreck could have become somewhat monotonous, but the way Martel has portrayed him has caused readers to become invested in his fate. Though readers know from the beginning that he survives the shipwreck, there are still major questions as to how he was able to survive as a boy, alone on the open ocean, with only zoo animals as company. 

Finally, at the end of the book when the investigators for the Japanese cargo ship that sunk come to question Pi, they cannot believe his outrageous story. They implore Pi to tell them the truth. Obliging, Pi tells the same story of his survival but turns the orangutan, the tiger, the hyena, and the zebra into people rather than animals. It is left to the reader which version of the story they will choose to believe. The last paragraph of the story gives an account of what the investigator chose to believe: 

"As an aside, story of sole survivor Mr. Piscine Molitor Patel, Indian citizen, is an astounding story of courage and endurance in the face of extraordinarily difficult and tragic circumstances. In the experience of this investigator, his story is unparalleled in the history of shipwrecks. Very few castaways can claim to have survived so long at sea as Mr. Patel, and none in the company of an adult Bengal tiger."

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What strategies does the author, Yann Martel, use to introduce and develop character in Life of Pi?

Yan Martel's novel, Life of Pi, introduces character in a couple of different ways. Since the narrator is also characterized in the story, he is involved intermittently throughout the narration as Pi's story unfolds. This technique seems to place the narrator in the story, but he's not actually a part of the story. That is to say, there is a story within a story, which produces a different effect between the narrator and Pi, as well as with the audience and the narrator.

Pi, on the other hand, is presented by the narrator, but also presents himself through his own perspective. Then, Pi presents other characters in the story, from his perspective as well, which begs the question, "Whose story is this?" Along the way, Pi presents animals as characters in his stories. The animals seem to be so real because of Pi's personal expertise on how each animal reacts in different environments (i.e. zoo habitats vs. stranded on the ocean). And with one of the greatest twists in literature, the animals are presented at the end as possible human substitutes to an alternate ending, which ultimately finishes with calling into question the story as a whole. If the characters aren't who or what Pi said they were, then the element of characterization shifts and challenges the reader's mind. Overall, it is brilliant!

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What are rhetorical devices in Life of Pi?

Merriam-Webster defines rhetoric as the “study of writing or speaking as a means of communication or persuasion.” Rhetorical devices range from the familiar alliteration to the less familiar synecdoche. The novel has many rhetorical devices. I recommend you focus on the ones which have a more striking impact on the novel or which set it apart.

Consider the significant order of narration and Martel’s use of flashbacks and foreshadowing. Analepsis is a rhetorical technique which “involves interruption of the chronological sequence of events by interjection of events or scenes or earlier occurrence” according to Merriam-Webster. The fact that Martel switches between the current time period in which the adult Pi is interviewed by the narrator and Pi’s experience on the life boat, is one of the defining structural elements of the novel. The use of analepsis ensures that the reader understands that Pi survives his ordeal as we are able to see him successfully adjusted to life in Canada with his family. Knowing that the story has a “happy ending” allows the reader more room to explore how this ending is achieved.

Another significant structural element of the novel is the concept of the “better story.” Pi relates two stories. The story detailing events with the animal characters is the one which receives more attention and is more palatable to the reader and the investigators. The “true” story detailing the trauma of death and the cannibalism on the life raft is more horrific to stomach for the investigators. The “better story” operates on a symbolic and metaphorical level. Therefore another rhetorical element of he novel would be extended metaphor.

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