January 5, 2007
Life of Pi: The Alternative Story
After absorbing readers with his enveloping tale of survival in the midst of wild animals, Pi lays out the alternative story. The alternative story does not include animals. Instead, he substitutes the animals with humans. Pi does so because the Japanese investigators were unsure of the veracity of his story.
After recounting his original story with the animals and the carnivorous island, the Japanese investigators are immediately skeptical and tell Pi right away, “Mr. Patel, we don’t believe your story” (Life of Pi, 99). The investigators cannot be blamed, for Pi tells them a story with a talking tiger and a flesh eating island of algae in the middle of the ocean. Speaking of the island, they tell Pi, “Your island is botanically impossible” (99). After every account, the investigators refute it as unbelievable. “Bananas don’t float”, “How could you survive in a lifeboat with one?”(99).
After much time trying to uncover the truth, the investigators are frank with Pi and tell him “We want a story without animals that will explain the sinking of the Tsimtsum” (99). Pi must oblige and recounts the actual story in where the Chinese sailor got his leg amputated by the cook for bait and his mother is killed right before his eyes. He must recount the story in which he is left with the final option of killing the savage cook. After his account, Mr. Chiba confesses “What a horrible story” (99). Nevertheless, it is credible, which gives it an advantage over his original story with the animals.
With the original story, the actions of the chef are shocking and even incredible. Yet, since they are fellow humans, Pi’s survival is more likely. This offers an advantage over the original because they were skeptical of Pi surviving with a tiger and hyena present on the same lifeboat. The alternative story is more convincing, yet the gruesome actions of the chef are incredible.