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Life of Pi Essay: Reality: The Worse Story

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Reality: The Worse Story

Reality, as defined by Merriam Webster’s dictionary, is “the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.” Yann Martel, the author of New York Times bestseller, Life of Pi, said in an interview “...Reality is an interpretation, a choice of readings, a choice of stories.” Martel’s quote, though deep and seemingly meaningful, does not reign true. Reality can and never will be a choice. One can not change daily occurrences simply by believing that they are not happening. Of course one can cherry pick stories that make reality seem pleasant and live incognizant to the unbearable horrors that plague reality every day, but those horrors still go on; they do not disappear as soon as one person decides they should. Reality is a constant unchanging, unyielding force that can not change because someone wishes it to.

Sometimes “dry, yeastless factuality” (Martel 302) is unbearable. Sometimes it is impossible to cope with reality. So in order to cope, a story is made up that justifies the actions of those involved. In Yann Martel’s novel, Life of Pi, Pi Patel is stranded aboard a lifeboat for 227 days with an adult Bengal tiger. Until he is not. Until the true reality of his situation comes out. Pi Patel was stranded aboard a lifeboat with his mother, a sailor, a cook and his own animality. On board he witnessed a sailor’s death and consumption as well as his own mother’s death; “He hurled something my way. A line of blood struck me across the face. No whip could have inflicted a more painful lash. I held my mother’s head in my hands. I let it go. It sank in a cloud of blood her tress trailing like a tail” (Martel 310). Holding your mother’s severed head would be traumatizing for anyone. The reality of the situation is going to be hard to cope with, so as the human mind does, it comes up with a happier story to maintain its sanity. Pi chose to believe his mother was Orange Juice, the orangutan, and the cook was the hyena, but this does not change the fact that his mother was slaughtered and feasted upon by the malevolent cook. The reality remains the same. His mother did not magically change into an orangutan because he believed another story in which she was an orangutan. In order to survive Pi needed to change his view of the world. He replaced the people around him with animals, like putting a filter over an image. The image changes, but the reality remains beneath it unchanged. Without the reality, the new image would be nothing and could not exist.

As children, we are told stories about make-believe characters that can not really exist like Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, the tooth-fairy and countless others. Santa is not a real person, therefore he is not a reality, he is a story. In order to be a reality Santa has to exist and to the dismay of many children and the expense of many parents, he is not a reality. The reality is this: your parents are the ones magically procuring the presents under the tree. Children under the age of seven are not able to distinguish between reality and fiction. That matches up with the average age at which kids stop believing in Santa, eight years old. Whether they realize he is a story because they're told or because it has finally become obvious that an old man in a red suit cannot possibly fly around the world in one night delivering gifts to children is irrelevant. Children may perceive reality different from adults, but that does not change the reality.

Many of us face the death of a loved one and we have to learn how to cope with the reality of their passing we can not simply perceiver reality in another way to change it. Growing up my grandmother was my best friend. We baked cookies together and watched Shirley Temple while we ate our freshly baked cookies. My whole life she was fighting cancer. She never showed it and I never knew. I never knew that one day it could take her away. As a 6-year-old I did



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