Life of Pi Ending Explanation/Interpretation

Posted: December 10, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Adult Pi Patel: So which story do you prefer? 
Writer: The one with the tiger. That’s the better story. 
Adult Pi Patel: Thank you. And so it goes with God.
Writer: [smiles] It’s an amazing story.

Life_of_Pi_2012_Poster

This part of the movie has intrigued many, while the rest have happened to just look past the meaning behind it. The film was well received as a visual spectacle, but little could people fish out the twist in the story which was expertly layered by director Ang Lee. This dialogue reigns as one of the best from any movie, in my book. Ang Lee has successfully created a close-to-masterpiece film from what seemed like a mountainous task.

Now, to the point. The story Pi tells the Japanese investigators is not fake, but is actually the real story. The phrase, “And so it goes with god” goes back as a reply to the writer’s question fired at Pi, somewhere in the middle of the movie about his belief in god. What I could comprehend from the whole scenario is that, if someone can believe in something so superficial that religion has become today, then why not the story with the tiger? So basically, the story with the cook, his mom and him is the real, and more logical story where Pi becomes a cannibal in order to survive and hence, the tiger reference. Although the one with the tiger is visually stunning, the truth is that the cook, a.k.a the Hyena, killed his mother, a.k.a the Orangutan and Pi, a.k.a the tiger, killed the hyena. It was the need to survive that made him this vicious and wild, to gain the soul like that of a tiger. So just like how the story with the tiger is the fake one, he tries to say that god as it has become today is more fake than real. I got this feeling because of the path he took, when asked about which religion he wanted to believe in. Just like every other kid, he was baffled as to what to choose and most of us Indians are not even given that choice, so he eventually chooses to believe in every religion.

Ultimately, for people who believe in God as the religions that stand today, the tiger story is believable.
But if you believe in no particular religion and in mere facts itself, then the fake story is real.
So I, choose the latter, for that makes more sense. What about you?

NOTE : This is based on the movie, NOT on the book. Neither have I paid much attention to the technicalities/details of the two stories so you would do yourself a favour by paying attention to the philosophical emphasis that I have brought about. Cheers.

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Comments
  1. Adhitya raoRoger says:

    I agree with what you said. Yeah, The latter is more Logical.
    I honestly believe in “God”, but not in any pirticular “Religion”, but at the same time, I don’t believe in the Tiger Story too.

  2. Jijo says:

    I almost got beaten up by my colleagues when I told them the story with no-tiger is what really happened.. But, then I did not have anything to back my conclusion. I told them what I felt after reading the book :)

  3. Kelly Wilson says:

    I do not think that communicating superficiality in “religion” was the intention of either Ang Lee or Yann Martel.

    Now … having shared ‘Life of Pi’ with their respective audiences, neither hold monopoly on the meanings derived, but if we are talking about their intent, then I think the conversation surrounding which story’s is “real” somewhat misses the point.

    Your reaction — which I enjoyed reading — uses the language of “fake” and “real”, but what bearing does that have on truth which, I presume, both a ‘fake’ and a ‘real’ story can convey? To me, ‘Life of Pi’ represents an unfolding reflection on the relationship between fact and fiction and the extent to which each mediates truth. Suppose the latter story is “fact” and the former “fiction”? A consequence is not that one is true and one is not, right?

    I thank you for sharing your thoughts and letting me share mine.

    *I use the word true in the sense of subjective experience. I hear one of Aesop’s fables, for example, and because I associate a truthfulness with the message it conveys, the factual reality of the story is not an issue

    KW.

    http://mymusingsonfilm.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/life-of-pi-2012/

  4. vik says:

    the story with no-tiger is the real one…..as an evidence,the narrator said he never saw that tiger again…..which was his other side….. :-p

  5. Pi says:

    First of all they were Japanese and not Chinese. There is no right and wrong answer. You miss the point. Stop searching.

    • vishimnotthesame says:

      I will change it. :)

    • Brittany says:

      But there is a point. If you have read the book, which you may have not, there is a scene in the beginning that is absolutely crucial to understanding this story. The author describes a display that Pi’s father had put up by the entrance to the zoo. When people would come visit the zoo, they would see the display that read something like this: “Look behind this curtain to see the world’s most dangerous animal.” When people would pull aside the curtain, there would be a mirror indicating that humans are the most dangerous animal. That particular scene is so small that it seems insignificant, and most everyone overlooks it. But that theme rings true at the end of the book when Pi reluctantly reveals the “true” version of the story. I personally like to look for the good in people and tend to be an optimist, but I know that this was Yann Martel’s intent when writing this book. He put that small, hidden meaning in there so his readers could make the connection: humans are the most dangerous animals, and they show that when they commit these atrocious acts. The story with the humans is the true one.

    • Brittany says:

      But there is a point. If you have read the book, which you may have not, there is a scene in the beginning that is absolutely crucial to understanding this story. The author describes a display that Pi’s father had put up by the entrance to the zoo. When people would come visit the zoo, they would see the display that read something like this: “Look behind this curtain to see the world’s most dangerous animal.” When people would pull aside the curtain, there would be a mirror indicating that humans are the most dangerous animal. That particular scene is so small that it seems insignificant, and most everyone overlooks it. But that theme rings true at the end of the book when Pi reluctantly reveals the “true” version of the story. I personally like to look for the good in people and tend to be an optimist, but I know that this was Yann Martel’s intent when writing this book. He put that small, hidden meaning in there so his readers could make the connection: humans are the most dangerous animals, and they show that when they commit these atrocious acts. The story with the humans is the true one.

  6. kingriolu says:

    I believe the tiger story is true because in the beginning, kid pi is feeding the tiger, trying to prove animals have souls, so why should they add that if it is not important

  7. Ugh says:

    *facedesk

    Someone doesn’t know how to analyze literary works. In the humanities you are supposedly allowed to bs your way through because there is no right answer, but this is just so far off the mark PLEASE JUST STOP.

    • vishimnotthesame says:

      Haha maybe you should write down an article about the same and enlighten people with your opinions. Either way, thanks for reading. This interpretation was not based off the book, but the movie. Cheers.

  8. ChristopherThor says:

    I believe in God and God is not a God of falsehood but a God of fact. If God exists then he exists, if he doesn’t then he doesn’t. What really happened in the “Life of Pi” — I do not know because I wasn’t there. Let’s assume for a minute that the movie is “real” in the sense that this man actually told these two stories in real life…what goes with God is what actually happened. Plain and simple. It is not up to our subjective preferences to determine the truth of a story but up to objective standards. Whatever actually happened is what goes with God.

  9. fattyz says:

    It’s only an allegory about Hinduism. http://www.greencoastphotography.com/blog/2013/1/the-life-of-pi-really-explained. Since most of us in the west know nothing about it we are confused by the second story and references to other religions.

  10. Kat says:

    Actually the story with the tiger is the real story and the second story is made up and apparently this is based on a true story so pi really was trapped with a tiger. (My opinion and perspective)

  11. Book Cereal says:

    it’s a very interesting story.

  12. Michael says:

    Dear author,

    Thank you very much for a beautifully written and thought provoking piece. I had an initial reaction that the story with the tiger is the one that God would prefer. The writer chooses the one with the tiger and so it goes with God, meaning God would agree. Then I read your piece and I had to ask myself the question, is the more logical explanation always the correct one. The answer that I concluded was no. Logic is only a product of the knowledge that we have been fed or that we have fed ourselves providing us with a platform to base our assertions. Therefor if we are not basing our assertions on sound knowledge they may be wrong.

    People’s world view in the modern era is in my view distorted by unsound commonly held assertions based on unfounded scientific propaganda. This in turn means that people view things as illogical that actually could be very logical if their view point was based on a different knowledge base rather than the one that the masses are fed.

    To believe in the story with the tiger you have to believe in God. The writer acknowledges that he prefers a life with God in it by saying that he prefers the story with the tiger and not the story where the dark side of humanity is exposed.

    Please explore the fundamental things that you are basing your world view on. Things like Darwinism and millions of years are completely unfounded. Open your eyes to discover the beauty that lies beyond the veil. On the realisation of God then logic is far from brutal and mundane but becomes an exquisite infinity of endless possibilities.

    After all why would anyone choose the boring scenario if the reality was so much more beautiful?

    Your brother in Christ x

    • vishimnotthesame says:

      Frankly, I’m an agnostic. But I respect your views and opinions nevertheless. Maybe the portrayed Pi to lean towards religion in the book, which I haven’t read, but in the movie, they show him getting along with every religion where at one point he breaks it to this parents and they aren’t quite pleased with his motives, which bogs him down from being religious henceforth. I guess the reason this world is running is not only because there are like-minded people but also because there are people who agree to disagree like us. Cheers. :)

  13. Michael says:

    Just another quick thought.

    The marvel of the film is this,

    Pi says that he will make the writer believe in God and to a certain extent he must do. This is because he makes the writer and the audience want to believe in God because the story he makes up at the end of the film describes humanity without God. Survival of the fittest, brutality, murder. But the story with the tiger, the one with love, courage, beauty and faith in the unknown goes hand in hand with God and all of His esquisite complexities. The writer acknowledges which one he prefers surely making him question his outlook on life.

    This film is the only film to have made me think this deeply.

    Brilliant all round!!

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