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ENGL 202 Introduction to Literary Study: Creaturely Lives Life of Pi 01/28/2013.

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Presentation on theme: "ENGL 202 Introduction to Literary Study: Creaturely Lives Life of Pi 01/28/2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 ENGL 202 Introduction to Literary Study: Creaturely Lives Life of Pi 01/28/2013

2 Main Point s Attitudes towards animals How is the story made credible? “Suspension of disbelief” (1817, Samuel Taylor Coleridge)? How important is Pi’s voice in making us believe the story?

3 Attitudes to animals We are now “moving away from an earlier form of history which focussed on human ideas about and attitudes towards animals in which animals were mere blank pages onto which humans wrote meaning: in which they were passive, unthinking presences in the active and thoughtful lives of humans … Instead [a new] tradition … traces the many ways in which humans construct and are constructed by animals in the past.” (Fudge 2006)

4 “This new history is a history in which we are being asked to look at the ways in which animals and humans no longer exist in separate realms; in which nature and culture coincide; and in which we recognize the ways in which animals, not just humans, have shaped the past.” (Fudge 2006)


6 Attitudes to animals in Life of Pi “Repetition is important in the training not only of animals but also of humans.” (23) “The obsession with putting ourselves at the centre of everything is the bane not only of theologians but also of zoologists. I learned the lesson that an animal is an animal, essentially and practically removed from us …(31) “When an animal decides to do something, it can do it for a very long time.” (115)

7 “a hyena’s catholicity of taste is so indiscriminate it nearly forces admiration.” (117) The zebra’s broken leg was missing. The hyena had bitten it off and dragged it to the stern, behind the zebra. A flap of skin hung limply over the raw stump. … The victim bore its suffering patiently, without showy remonstrations. A slow and constant grinding of its teeth was the only visible sign of distress. Shock, revulsion and anger surged through me. ….

8 “I felt intense hatred for the hyena. I thought of doing something to kill it. But I did nothing. And my outrage was short-lived. I must be honest about that. I didn’t have pity to spare for long for the zebra. When your own life is threatened, your sense of empathy is blunted by a terrible, selfish hunger for survival.” (120)

9 “The image of as new species popped into my head: the rare seafaring green orang-utan. I returned to my sitting position. The poor dear looked so humanly sick! It is a particularly funny thing to read human traits in animals, especially in apes and monkeys, where it is so easy. Simians are the clearest mirrors we have in the animal world. That is why they are so popular in zoos. I laughed again. I brought my hands to my chest, surprised at how I felt. Oh my. This laughter was like a volcano of happiness erupting in me. And Orange Juice had not only cheered me up; she had also taken on both our feelings of seasickness. I was feeling fine now.” (122)

10 “Bearing an expression profoundly sad and mournful, [Orange Juice] began to look about, slowly turning her head from side to side. Instantly the likeness of apes lost its amusing character. She had given birth at the zoo to two young ones … that were her – and our – pride. It was unmistakably these she had on her mind. … She noticed me and expressed nothing about it. I was just another animal that had lost everything and was vowed to death. My mood plummeted.” (124)

11 Richard Parker “It is a good joke that the tiger is called Richard Parker … For thus the reader is constantly tempted to mistake it for a human character. Yet the narrator’s nuanced, utterly credible interpretation of the tiger’s ‘emotions’ (his word) lets us see that human and animal do have peculiar sympathies. Pi faces his ordeal with a prior knowledge of the ‘surprising living arrangements’ to which animals sometimes come. … His knowledge enables the ‘dealings’ between him and Richard Parker. Pi learns that the tiger speaks ‘a simple, forcefully punctuated language that told me what his next move might be’.” (Mullan 2007)

12 Questions 1.How is the story made believable? Look at “Darkness came. … minute by slow minute.” (pp. 118-9) 2. What is the story really about? An allegory? A fable? “magical realism”?

13 References Fudge, Erica. “The History of Animals.” H ‑ Animal. H ‑ Net, 25 May 2006. Web. 27 Sept. 2012. Mullan, John. “Paper Tigers.” 2007. 2007/sep/22/featuresreviews.guar dianreview4.

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