I’ve been reading the Life of Pi for my novel study in English and we are told something we can talk about for an assignment could be a passage from the book. I have found a segment of the book both interesting and funny on pg 70-77. I’ve cut out some parts due to its lack of meaning to me. If you want to read the rest of the book go here.
“Alas, the sense of community that a common faith brings to a people spelled trouble for me. In time, my religious doings went from the notice of those whom it didn’t matter and only amused, to that of those whom it did matter-and were not amused.
“what is your son doing going to temple?” asked the priest.
“You son was seen in a church crossing himself,” said the imam.
“Your son has gone Muslim,” said the pandit.
Yes, it was all forcefully brought to the attention of my bemused parents. You see, they didn’t know. They didn’t know that I was practicing Hindu, Christian and Muslim. Teenagers always hide a few things from their parents, isn’t that so? All sixteen-year-olds have secrets, don’t they? But fate decided that my parents and I and the three wise men, as i shall call them, should meet one day on the Goubert Salai seaside esplande and that my secret should be outed. It was a lovely breeze, hot Sunday afternoon and the Bay of Bengal glittered under a blue sky. Townspeople were out for a stroll. Children screamed and laughed. Colored balloons floated in the air. Ice cream sales were brisk. Why thing of a business on such a day, I ask? Why couldn’t they have just wlked by with a nod an a smile? It was not to be. We were to meet with not one wise man, but all three, and not one after another but at the same time, and each would decide upon seeing us that right then was the golden occasion to meet the Pondicherry notable, the zoo director, he of the model devout son. When I saw the first i smiled; by the time I had laid eyes on the third, my smile had frozen in a mask of horror. When it was clear that all three were converging on us, my heart jumped before sinking very low.
The wise men seemed annoyed when they realized that all three of them were approaching the same people. Each must have assumed that the others were there for some business other then pastoral and had rudely chosen that momen to deal with it. Glances of displeasure were exchanged.
After the “Hellos” and the “Good days”, there was an awkward silence. The priest broke it when he said, with pride in his voice “Piscine is a good Christian boy. I hope to see him join our choir soon.”
My parents, the pandit and the imam looked surprised.
“You must be mistaken. He’s a good Muslim boy. he comes without fail to Friday prayer, and his knowledge of the Holy Qurian is coming along nicely.” So said the imam.
My parents, the priest and the pandit looked incredulous.
The pandit spoke. ” You’re both wrong. he’s a good Hindu boy. I see him all the time at the temple coming for darshan and performing puja.”
My parents the imam and the preist looked astounded. “There is no mistake,” said the priest. ” I know this boy. He is Piscine Molitor Patel and he’s a Christian”
“I know him too, and i tell you he is Muslim,” asserted the imam.
“Nonsense!” cried the pandit. “Piscine was born a Hindu, lives a Hindu and will die a Hind1!”
Th three wise men stared at each other, breathless and disbelieving.
Lord, avert their eyes from me, I whispered in my soul.
All eyes fell upon me.
“Piscine, can this be true?” asked the imam earnestly. “Hindus and Christians are idolaters. They have many gods.”
“And Muslims have many wives,” responded the pandit.
The priest looked askance at both of them. “Piscine,” he nearly whispered. “there is salvation only in Jesus.”
“Balderdash! Christians know nothing about religion,” said the pandit.
“They strayed long ago from the God’s path,” said imam.
“Where’s the God’s in your religion?” snapped the priest. ” You don’t have a single miracle to show for it. What kind of religion is that, without miracles?”
“I isn’t a circle without dead people jumping out of tombs all the time, that’s what! We Muslims stick to the essential miracle of existence. Birds flying, rain falling, crops growing-these are miracles enough for us.”
“Feathers and rain are all very nice, but we like to know that God is truly with us.”
“Is that so? well, a whole lot of good it did to God to be with you-you tried to kill him! You banged him to a cross with great big nails. Is that a civilized way to treat a prophet? The prophet Muhammad-peace be upon him-brought us the word of God without any undignified nonsense and died ripe of old age.”
“The word of God? to the illiterate merchant of yours in the middle of the desert? Those were drooling epileptic fits brought on by the swaying of his camel, not divine revelation. That, or the sun frying his brains!”
“If the prophet-p.b.u.h.-were alive, he would have choice words for you,” replied the imam, with narrow eyes.
“Well, he’s not! Christ is alive, while your ‘p.b.u.h.’ is dead, dead, dead!”
The pandit interrupted them quietly. In Tamil he said, “The real question is, why is Piscine dallying with these foreign religions?”
The eyes of the priest and the imam properly popped out of their heads. they were both native Tamils.
“God is universal,” sputtered the priest.
The imam nodded strongly in approval. “There is only one God.”
“And with their one god Muslims are always causing trouble and provoking riots. The proof of how bad Islam is, is how uncivilized Muslims are,” pronounced that Pandit.
“Says the slave-driver of the caste system,” huffed the imam. “Hindus enslave people and worship dressed-up dolls.”
“They are golden calf lovers. They kneel before cows,” the priest chimed in.
“While Christians kneel before a white man! They are the flunkies of a foreign god, They are the nightmare of all non-white people.”
“And they eat pigs and are cannibals,” added the imam for good measure.
” What it comes down to, ” the priest put out in cool rage,” is whether Piscine wants real religion-or myths from a cartoon strip.”
“God-or idols.” intoned the imam gravely.
“Our gods-or colonial gods,” hissed the pandit.
It was hard to tell whose face was more inflamed it looked as if they might come to blows.
Father raised his hand. “Gentlemen, gentlemen, please!” he interjected. “I would like to remind you there is a freedom of practice in this country”
Three apoplectic faces turned to him.
“Yes! Practice- singular!” the wise men screamed in unison.
Three index fingers, like punctuation marks jumped to attention in the air to emphasize their point.
They were not pleased at the unintended choral effect of the spontaneous unity of their gestures. Their fingers came down quickly, and they sighed and groaned each on his own. Father and Mother stared on, at a loss of words.
The pandit spoke first “Mr. Patel, Piscine’s piety is admirable. in these troubled time it’s good to see a boy so keen to God. We all agree on that” The imam and the priest nodded. “But he can’t be Hindu, a Christian and Muslim. It’s impossible. he must chose.”
“I don’t think it’s a crime, but supposed you’re right,” Father replied.
The three murmed agreement and looked heaven ward, as did Father, whence they felt the decision must comee. Mother looked at me.
A silence fell on my shoulders.
” hmmm, Piscine?” Mother nudged me, ” how do you feel about the question?”
“Bapu Gandhi said ‘All religions are true.’ I just want to love God” I blurted out, and looked down red in the face.
My embarrassment was contagious. No one said anything. it happened that we were not far from the statue of Gandhi on the esplanade. Stick in hand, impish smile on his lips, a twinkle in his eyes, the Mahatma walked. I fancy that he heard our conversation, but that he paid even greater attention to my heart. Father cleared his throat and said in a half-voice, “I suppose that’s what we’re all trying to do-Love God”.
I Liked this part of the book because it made three religious people realize that when they were arguing how their religion was different they saw from a 12 year old that really all of them had the same purpose, to serve and praise God. This is almost a peaceful representation of what would happen in real life if something of this sort ever happened. If this wasn’t in a book people would most likely be throwing punches and trying to kill each other, just because of the way they chose to praise God.
This part of the book is sort of the kick start to exciting events that come later in the book and I think it sets a good tone of humor and realism. When Piscine started practicing these three religions earlier in the book it was almost too clear that something like this was going to happen, and it seemed even Piscine half expected something like this to happen. It ended in an unexpected way, and Piscine got to continue practicing his love for God under the disapproving eyes of others.
As I’ve read on through the book I’ve realized that this passage was a key component to the whole story line and how things turned out for Pi. It was mainly his faith in God and his will to survive that got him through the boat accident. No I did not spoil the story because in some chapters previous it talks about Piscine in his later life as a writer. It was his faith in God that gave him confidence to survive, and once he had confidence he realized that he had to actually do something in order to survive. It was his belief in God that indirectly guided him to safety and survival. This passage is a really good representation of the rest of the world where there are constant religious wars and people shun different parts of the world just because they complete the same task differently. Too many people fight to show that their way of loving God is better. Yet is it better to love God in a different way, rather then not love him at all?