Life of Pi, the Richard Parker Effect.


They say, the eyes are the windows of the soul. I believe, they have the power to burn deep into the heart for truth.

I saw the movie, Life of Pi, a couple of months ago and was left enamored by the story of Pi Patel, an Indian man who recounts his life story to a novelist Yann Martel, about being the only survivor of a shipwreck during a terrible storm and how he was stranded on a lifeboat with a bengal tiger, he called Richard Parker, for 227 days at sea before being rescued.

The story resonated with me because it tells the tale of faith, adventure, survival and discovery. It touched on so much symbolism with the animals, who were on the lifeboat with Pi. The orangutan-Pi’s mother, zebra-the injured sailor, hyena-the ravenous cook, and Richard Parker-the tiger, who I believed represented the anger, fear and bitterness of Pi’s loss of his mother who is killed by the cook and the loss of his whole family from the shipwreck.

Richard Parker represents in all of us, the fear we may face when trying to survive terrible pain and loss. The tiger is what we face within ourselves, the effect of what traumatic pain feels like, how do we survive, how do we go on, the anger helps us live on for something. God meets Pi, where he is on that lifeboat.

Pi realizes he needs the help of God to survive. The most touching scene of the movie for me, where I literally cried is when he is rescued at the end of the movie, and Richard Parker leaves him and stands still for a few minutes gazing at the jungle, not looking back at Pi. To me, the anger, the fear, the pain which drives him, leaves Pi at that moment. He feels alone, but at the same time faces the truth within himself, to let go and to move forward, not looking back. The Richard Parker Effect drove him to survive but also taught him faith to not give up.

This is an amazing story and changed my outlook on life completely. I recommend everyone to see this movie, read the book if you haven’t already.

I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always … so you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you. ―Yann Martel

Remember Pi’s father says,

What you see in the tiger’s eyes are your own emotions reflecting back at you.

This is important, especially since, as Pi says, he wishes he could thank his father for teaching him what he needed to survive.


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