Write a synthesis essay between "Life Of Pi" and "Old Man With Enormous Wings" that compares and shows how they both use magical realism to challenge commonly accepted beliefs. Requirements:-...

Write a synthesis essay between "Life Of Pi" and "Old Man With Enormous Wings" that compares and shows how they both use magical realism to challenge commonly accepted beliefs.

- Compare "Life of Pi" to "The Old Man with enormous wings"

- Use point by point format

- Around 1000 words

- Use quotes from "Life of Pi" and "The Old Man with enormous wings" to make reference

1. Introduction(Hook, Thesis...)

2. Body 1 (Point 1)
Life of Pi's point
The old man with enormous wings's point

3. Body 2 (Point 2)
Life of Pi's point
The old man with enormous wings's point

4. Body 3 (Point 3)
Life of Pi's point
The old man with enormous wings's point

5. Conclusion

Expert Answers
teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both Life Of Pi and A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings are seminal works which challenge the depths of our religious faith and what we hold to be self-evident truths when we are faced with danger, death and extreme suffering. Magical realism in both novels combines elements of the divine with the earthiness of human experience. The weaknesses of hollow faith in the face of suffering and death are exposed and the place that science and faith can have in helping us navigate the sometimes dangerous waters of life is addressed through the art of magical realism.

In Life Of Pi, the main character, Piscine Molitor Patel, is ashamed of his name. He is named after a famous pool in Paris, the Piscine Molitor, "a pool the gods would have delighted to swim in." Heavily influenced by his agnostic father and his atheistic biology teacher, Pi is a Hindu and a believer in science, but a very fascinating study in contrasts. He also studies the tenets of Islam and Christianity and incorporates elements of the three faiths into his life. His father owns a zoo in Pondicherry but decides to uproot the family for a better life in Canada. Tragedy strikes when the ship they are on sinks. His father, mother and brother Ravi are lost in the sinking of the ship. Pi thinks he is the only survivor but is surprised to find that a Royal Bengal tiger named Richard Parker has survived with him. Having been thrown overboard into a lifeboat by three Chinese crewmen, he finds that the boat has a zebra with a badly broken back leg, a hyena, an orangutan named Orange Juice and the tiger, Richard Parker, on board. In a predicament beyond words, Pi is devastated that neither his faith in religion or science is able to provide him a reason for living.

"Every single thing I value in life has been destroyed. And I am allowed no explanation? I am to suffer hell without any account from heaven? In that case, what is the purpose of reason, Richard Parker?"

Faced with the ugly specter of death, Pi is nevertheless forced to rely on his deep-seated belief in religion and science.

"I know zoos are no longer in people’s good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both."

Being in the boat with the animals reminds him of the true laws of the jungle. In the jungle, there is a very violent hierarchy of existence imposed on all animals. In reality, the wild is not a place for freedom for them: they are exposed to the elements, danger from predators and the very real risk of starvation. Yet, in clean cages in a zoo, fed everyday by caring zookeepers, they may be enclosed, but their existence is that of noble, cherished and protected animals. Likewise, Pi, who has studied zoology and religion, feels that agnostics may believe that their beliefs free them from religious intolerance and oppression, but in reality, their faith is stifled by the lack of courageous risks it prevents the agnostic from taking. The story of the animals in the boat with Pi is magical realism at its best: when faced with death, how do our closely held beliefs help us survive?

In "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings," we see magical realism at work; Marquez is a master in showing us the hypocrisy of the Church and the impotence of religious pomposity in the face of extreme poverty and suffering.

"What surprised him most, however, was the logic of his wings. They seemed so natural on that completely human organism that he couldn’t understand why other men didn’t have them too."

While science may sometimes lack solutions, religion may also lack real compassion and both can certainly lack understanding.

While Life Of Pi questions the dichotomies of a personal struggle of faith, whether a person be religious, agnostic or atheistic, "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings" questions how religious faith can induce prejudice and destroy real faith. Elisenda and Pelayo are both parents of a very sick child. They are destitute and live from hand to mouth. One day, they find an old man with enormous wings with his face down in the mud. He is bald and dressed in rags. They speak to him but don't understand his language. They assume he is a castaway from a ship.

"Against the judgment of the wise neighbor woman, for whom angels in those times were the fugitive survivors of a celestial conspiracy, they did not have the heart to club him to death."

At first they hope to put him back out to sea on a raft, but instead imprison him in a chicken coop. Elisenda is the more down to earth of the two, and it is she who decides to profit from the whole situation; they charge admission to all the villagers so that they view this monstrous example of a human freak. All come from far and wide to see if this old man has any powers to help them heal various maladies and disabilities. However, their hopes are dashed when they realize he can only perform totally unrelated miracles:

"like the blind man who didn't recover his sight but grew three new teeth, or the paralytic who didn't get to walk but almost won the lottery, and the leper whose sores sprouted sunflowers."

The people console themselves that he must still be somewhat of an angel as "he tolerated the most ingenious infamies with the patience of a dog who had no illusions." Meanwhile, the local priest sends a letter to implore guidance from the Catholic Church regarding how best to tackle this strange phenomenon of the old man with enormous wings. The Church's answer is sorely lacking in self-awareness and compassion: they ask Father Gonzaga whether he speaks the language of Jesus, Aramaic, whether he has a navel and how many times he can fit on the head of a pin. Marquez indirectly questions how the Church can provide answers when it is hopelessly mired in prejudicial religious cliches. He questions the authenticity of faith without understanding the true tenets of religion: to save and to comfort.

"The lower you are, the higher your mind will want to soar." (Life Of Pi)

Magical realism lets the authors of the two books tell the human story of survival in all its ugliness and stark ferocity.

"Something in me died then that has never come back to life." (Life Of Pi)

"Then [Father Gonzaga] noticed that seen close up he was much too human: he had an unbearable smell of the outdoors, the back side of his wings was strewn with parasites and his main feathers had been mistreated by terrestrial winds, and nothing about him measured up to the proud dignity of angels." (A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings)

The winged old man is soon replaced with a fantastic specimen, a spider girl. Divine punishment has supposedly imposed upon her a human head and the body of a tarantula for disobeying her parents by attending a dance forbidden to her. The people are mesmerized and entranced by her and leave the old man alone. By now, Elisenda and Pelayo are rich beyond measure due to the admission fees they have been charging. The extreme prejudice of the people is shown by their embrace of the spider girl and their rejection of the old man just because he does not look like a "real" angel.

Marquez and Martel use magical realism with great skill to showcase for us the reality of religious prejudice, the place that faith and science can have in our struggles in life, and also the extreme trials our faith endures in the face of life and death.