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This novel begins with a fairly detailed account of Piscine Patel’s religious upbringing, in many faiths, and the ending of the book again questions the symbolic nature of our beliefs. While firm believers in organized religions find questions of symbolism in their sacred texts—the Koran, The Bible, the Talmud, etc.—unpalatable or even blasphemous, our personal beliefs take into account the use of language’s ability to draw concrete examples as metaphors into our communication of our beliefs, and Life of Pi is arguably an examination of the dramatic value of such metaphors in helping us choose “right action.” Regardless of how the reader chooses to view the “real” meaning of the tiger, the rowboat, the carnivorous island, etc. there can be no sustainable argument made that this is a story simply of a zoo, a shipwreck, etc. on only the realistic physical level. In the final passages of the book, the author ask the question “Which version of this story would you prefer to hear?” In these regards the story is a presentation of religion as a metaphor. Even linguists and philosophers admit that without words we cannot think, and this novel is the expression of otherwise ineffable ideas.
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