My leadership vision

Good leadership visions come from great leaders with even greater dreams. Such leaders do not serve others under petty pretenses; they work towards a larger contribution to society.  Additionally, the best leaders have true passion that drives their work. I have only begun to unearth my passion and potential, but I know that I hold a sincere interest in the betterment of children. Keeping in mind the examples set by leaders of purpose, I hope to improve the lives of handicapped children.

My brother Dominic

As previously mentioned in my passion essay, my interest in aiding children comes from my brothers, especially my brother Dominic who was diagnosed at birth with cerebral palsy. After identifying where to focus my energy, I had to determine the best way to materialize a meaningful leadership vision. My vision will be implemented in two manners. First, I will help disabled children on an individual basis. This hope can become realized by setting a series of manageable goals and working my way into the medical field. The second part of my vision will support the handicapped on a broader community-centered scale. This part of my vision requires more creativity and innovation, and a set of stretch goals.

Mother Teresa profoundly encouraged others not to “wait for a leader; do it alone, person by person.” In this manner, I hope to lead by example and better the lives of children one by one as a pediatrician. In order to become the example I hope to spread, I need to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to fill an occupation that will allow me to do so.  As a pediatrician, I can work in a hands-on setting with mentally disabled children. Providing the treatment for even one handicapped child would be a worthwhile cause. Acquisition of such skills can be obtained through manageable goals I set throughout my collegiate academic career.

A good doctor is a well rounded person.

Under the Plan II curriculum, I study in two both liberal arts and the natural sciences. Liberal arts courses help build an ability to connect with others. Consider a doctor who has spent the last 10 years of his life enveloped by his academic work. If a successful student, the new doctor would be able to give a proper diagnosis given the correct symptoms. However, whether a doctor or not, successful leaders have to connect with the people they work with. Without empathy, a doctor is missing the vital “human” component of his job: to understand a patient’s emotional, physical, and mental state. The plan II world literature and philosophy courses serve to expand my understanding of peoples’ thoughts and ideals. Through great works of fiction and philosophical logic, I can better understand the inner workings of a person’s psyche. Specifically, the fostering of emotional intelligence in my world literature class is a rarely addressed subject that will prove invaluable to my understanding of people both integral and distant from my occupation. The ability to listen and the ability to follow complicated directions are other skills that my world literature class focuses on. Obviously, a skilled physician must be able to listen to the problems of a patient in order to provide them with the care they need. My science courses serve a different objective. I must learn the basics of biology, chemistry, and physics not only to gain admission to medical school, but also to build the foundation needed to absorb the thousands of details taught in medical school.  Other courses that may at first seem like a hindrance like fine and performing arts requirements would still prove beneficial.  As Dass points out, “a growing burden of personal responsibility leads to exhaustion and frustration.”

[1] Taking history and arts courses will prevent the burnout that correlates with leadership and service.

Manageable goals beyond schoolwork during college include volunteering at the Dell Children’s Hospital, University Health Services Center, participating in laboratory research and embarking on a medical mission in South America. Working at the Dell Children’s Hospital will provide interaction with children that will not only bring aid to sick children, but also will confirm my passion and provide experience helpful towards my leadership vision. Volunteering at the University Health Services Center will teach me what it is like at the bottom of the medical profession totem pole. Robert Greenleaf once stated, “good leaders must first become good servants.” As a volunteer at the university, I will be working hand and foot for the nurses and patients they serve. The experience will undoubtedly help me empathize with the same kind of people I would interact with in a professional setting. Participating in laboratory research will fuel more hopeful long-term goals like finding cures for chronic children conditions. Participating in a medical mission to South America will help me keep things in perspective.  By understanding how blessed a life I have been granted, I can better serve those who are not as fortunate.

After working my way through my short-term goals and reaching a position where I can provide medical care to children on a daily basis, I can best serve by example.  Either through a private practice or large hospital, I would provide invasive care to adolescents blighted with neurological diseases. Helping each child one by one reminds me of the man “throwing starfish back into the ocean….mak[ing] a difference for that one.” As a doctor I would be devoting my time to a cause greater than myself. While not as easily recognized as leadership, helping people on a smaller scale is definitely leadership by example. Still, I hope to go even further.

With true passion and willingness to lead others towards a greater cause, my interest in serving children will hopefully extend past my occupation. After obtaining the proper financial backing, I plan on forming a local charitable organization with a very specific outreach. At this point, my manageable goals are not enough to drive my dreams. The path to becoming a doctor can be walked through defined steps, toil, and determination, but the formation of a non-profit charitable organization requires that “ability to think outside to box” as stated by the P4 instructions. I will form a society of Advocates for Pediatric Neurological Disorders (APND). The group will be a non-profit charitable organization that increases awareness of children with hampering neurological disorders, provides funds for care, and works to raise money for research in the greater Austin area. My current tutorial course, Pathways to Civic Engagement, discusses all the major topics pertaining to my idea: justice, healthcare, entrepreneurship, education, place, and innovation. Of course, a simple freshman course does not even scratch the surface of such a stretch goal. Regardless, I am positive my undergraduate education will ignite the flame of passion I need to tackle such a massive community endeavor.

Although a premature prototype, I have outlined the model of Advocates for Pediatric Neurological Disorders. The society would focus on bringing relief to children with autism, mental retardation, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, Tourette’s and rare neurological disorders. Funding will start on a smaller scale by obtaining capital from individual doctors willing to contribute to the cause. With enough advertising, additional money could be provided by private sponsors and altruistic individuals. Beyond expanding the organization, a majority of the revenue will be spent providing material needs for low-income families with disabled children. Families will be supplied with wheelchairs, formula, medicine, and any other goods that they need but cannot afford. Leftover capital would be channeled to the already existing Gordon and Mary Cain Pediatric Neurology Research Foundation Laboratories. The research foundation is part of the Texas Children’s Hospital and would utilize the money to, as the foundation states, “uncover the basic causes of presently incurable and devastating neurological disorders in infants and young children.” With financial aid being provided to socioeconomically disadvantaged families, neurological research and organizational outreach, Advocates for Pediatric Neurological Disorders will strengthen the community fight against Neurological disorders in the Austin area.

My work as a pediatrician in conjunction with the foundation of Advocates for Pediatric Neurological Disorders will allow me to serve as the leader who helps the needy on an individual basis, and as the leader who tackles the big picture. Over a dozen children a day could be diagnosed in a clinical setting, and hundreds of children with ruinous medical conditions could be given aid otherwise not affordable through the APND. Who knows? The charitable organization could find enough success to spread beyond the Austin area and increase awareness and relief across Texas and even the U.S. Currently I must focus on my manageable goals here in college, but still keep in mind the aspirations of my long-term goals. As I learn to empathize, become a citizen of the world, and further my scientific knowledge, I do so with a sense of purpose. Despite unavoidable setbacks, failures, and roadblocks, I approach my leadership vision in the hope of leaving the world a better place than I found it.

The best leader is the best servant:

Word Count With Quotes: 1487

Word Count Without Quotes: 1438


[1] Dass, Ram, and Paul Gorman. How Can I Help? Stories and Reflection on Service. New York: Knopf, 1985.

Published in: on March 23, 2010 at 2:17 am  Leave a Comment  

Alice and Diversity

Alice Approaching the Mouse

Alice’s young age and innocent predisposition help her deal with overwhelming diversity of her wonderland. Consider some common tendencies of people today in regards to diversity. Many people handle diversity on far ends of the same spectrum. Some people try to ignore differences, trying not to group anybody but in an ignorant fashion. Other people attribute everything to differences and demonstrate preferential treatment in the process. Alice, like any other innocent child, is able to acknowledge visible differences amongst the creatures she meets, but does not show signs of discrimination. Her interaction with the Mouse in The Pool of Tears is a prime example of the way Alice deals with diversity. Here she recognizes the Mouse for what it is, but does not make judgements about its ability to speak and comprehend as she asks, “O Mouse, do you know the way out of this pool?” Even after no response, she does not make judgements about its speaking abilities but ponders whether if it’s a French mouse that “doesn’t understand English.” (Alice in Wonderland p. 25-26) It makes sense when you think about it. Feelings of animosity and scorn are the unfortunate products of an environment that implants unjust ideals into the minds of adolescents. Children aren’t born racist or sexist. Alice approaches diversity the way we all should, with understanding and free of prejudice.

Humpty Dumpty

Innocence, however, is not perfect. While innocence may free a person of prejudice, it does not free them from ignorance. A person like Alice must take the time necessary to learn exactly what makes people different. Alice must take time to understand what is behind all the diversity she sees. Although Humpty Dumpty expresses his discontentment towards Alice quite rudely, he has a point when he tells Alice, “It’s very provoking…to be called an egg-very!” (Through the Looking Glass 208) Not trying to be mean or discriminate, Alice only made an observation and applied it as she addressed Humpty. Sure, unknowingly making an insensitive remark is better than doing so maliciously, but the fact remains that Alice lacks a form of tact. The same problem can be applied in real life. Students are educated to inspire open minds and build knowledge. Someone older is less likely to make insensitive remarks that children might make simply because they don’t know any better.

Dealing with diversity necessitates two states of mind. One, a person must be “innocent” or free from prejudice. Second,  a person must understand the background of such diversity. So though Alice has innocence that frees her from malicious prejudice, she does not have enough knowledge to handle the diversity she encounters in her wonderland. As students, we try to erase any biases we have built up over the years and form knowledge so that we can deal with diversity ourselves.

Media Sources

kanmi.deviantart.com

roadtripamerica.com

Published in: on March 9, 2010 at 11:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Siddhartha 3

Listening

Siddhartha learns listening from Vasudeva the ultimate listener.

Siddhartha demonstrates this ability and in some cases lack thereof in regards to our class’ immediate practical goals. As Siddhartha looks for meaning in his life he shows willingness to listen to the ideas of several mentors. In some cases he absorbs and hangs on to every word his mentor has to say as is the case of Vasudeva. With Vasudeva “he listened neither to the suffering nor the laughter and did not bind his soul to any individual voice but submerged his self into [the river].” (Hesse 126) On the other end of the spectrum, Siddhartha listens to Kamaswami only to disregard his mentor’s anxiety and worldliness. In between the two extremes, Siddhartha listens to Gotama extremely carefully, but expresses disagreement over finding enlightenment. Because Siddhartha knows “how to listen” (Fall Anthology 14), he can ultimately find his way to self unification.

Unity and Finding Yourself

Like the character's in Minfong's stories, Siddhartha is soul-searching by spiritual means.

The question, “Who are you?” posed to us by both Alice’s Caterpillar and Professor Bump is the central theme of the novel. Siddhartha spends the whole  novel searching for enlightenment but in reality is going through a”soul-searching” that all individuals go through in order to answer the question, “who am I?” While there is some disparity between our course goal’s advocacy of community and the novel’s advocacy of individualism, both look “to unify the self.” (Fall Anthology 18) In both the novel and in our class, unification is found by understanding the “various courses and activities of…life” (Anthology 18) While in our case it is University life, Siddhartha reaches this synthesis by discovering piety, lust, love, loss, and wisdom. It’s not until his talk with Vasudeva that he becomes “devoted to the flow and dedicated to the unity” (Hesse 127)

P4 and Leadership

I kind of thought Siddhartha’s conclusion was that leadership is limited. Siddhartha’s aim is not to “become the kind of person who can lead others for the benefit of society” (P4 instructions) In fact, when spending time with Vasudeva, the god-like character of the novel, Vasudeva rarely talks but instead demonstrates simple acts of kindness like, “offering [Siddhartha] a bowl of cocunut milk.”( Hesse 119) I guess in that way we can learn from Siddhartha that being a leader is “more about composition of self” (P4 instructions) and being able to listen and empathize with others.

Media Sources:

members2.authorsguild.net

doroteos2.files.wordpress.com/…/ listening1.jpg

Published in: on March 8, 2010 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Siddhartha 2

The Flow of Life

In part two of Siddhartha, Hesse builds on a wonderful analogy between living life and a flowing river. Siddartha spends years aggressively and consciously searching for enlightenment. However, Siddartha learns from Vasudeva that enlightenment can be found simply by letting go.

Vasudeva

This “letting go” is something I can relate to. Personally, I resonate with Vasudeva’s teachings.(Although ironically, mentioning any likeness to Vasudeva brings forth a contradiction as Vasudeva has an unspoken philosophy of humility.) As I go to class, eat at J2, and go to Gregory, sometimes I forget how surreal everything is. Millions of people don’t have the opportunities that I have nor the basic necessities I have, not due to their own faults, but due to sheer misfortune. I simply got lucky; the concept is easy to grasp but hard to remember. Because of this realization, I enjoy the “go with the flow” philosophy of Vasudeva and eventually Siddhartha. Instead of sweating the small things like the average person, I try to always remain grateful and happy with who I am.

Godavari River

Of course, there are many virtues that I don’t possess and several things I need to work on. I do not possess the “ferryman’s virtue,” the ability to “listen like few others could.” (Hesse 98) Additionally, I don’t possess “the joy and cheerful benevolence of [Siddhartha’s] face [that] were the only things that were unchanged and flourishing.” (Hesse 123) Still, I recognize the importance freeing ourselves from the sorrowing anchored in a preoccupation with time. In the end, Govinda realizes this, “not knowing any more whether time existed.” (Hesse 140) Siddhartha spends a majority of the novel over thinking his life, tackling everything with a philosophical and spiritual approach. Eventually, he learns the wisdom of just letting things “be”, of just letting life run its course. Sometimes in my own life, I realize that the same wisdom applies. Again, it’s better just to let things be as they are. Everything happens for a reason. I have much to learn; at my young age I am hardly wise, but I honestly believe there is wisdom in accepting what some may call destiny.

Media Sources:

http://th01.deviantart.com

iwmi.cgiar.org

Published in: on March 4, 2010 at 3:49 am  Leave a Comment  

Siddhartha

Talk about giving up worldly possessions, Herman Hesse’s protagonist Siddhartha doesn’t search for truth like the average teenager. He gives up the life of a wealthy Brahmin, high in the caste-system, for a life as an ascetic Samana. However, like any other guy, he changes everything for a beautiful woman-throwing away his ascetic Samana-like lifestyle. But first, Siddhartha takes a couple of years to make decisions about accepting the teachings and lifestyles of others.

Tensions between the Group and Individual.

The Ascetic

I would probably be wrong to call Siddhartha prideful as the author professes his good character throughout the first two chapters. However, Siddhartha is definitely skeptical of the teachings and characters of others, in part due to his intelligence and his awareness of such. While he struggles in the beginning to find separation from himself, he still comprehends his ability to muse about such ideas. He uses his own wisdom, despite his young age, to even address Gotama Buddha. In this conversation lies the major tensions between group and individual. From Buddha’s enlightenment, Siddhartha comes to the realization that, “Only for myself, myself alone, must I pass judgment, choose, or reject.” (Hesse 36) Still respectful to Gotama and his teachings, Siddhartha simply comes to the conclusion that he must take the time to discover himself, by himself. Whether or not he reaches his goals of self-realization I am not sure; all I could tell from the following chapters was that Siddhartha is not immune to the power of good looking women.

Siddhartha’s Sympathetic Imagination

Decaying Jackal

During his time as an ascetic, Siddhartha is “thirsty” for freedom from self or emptiness. Specifically, he wants to be “empty of thirst, of wishing, of dreams-empty of all joy and pain. He wanted the Self to die…”(Hesse 16) He attempts to achieve this through sympathetic imagination and “out-of-body” experiences. He allows his soul to enter the body of animals. After his spirit enters a dead jackal, “his soul had died, it had decayed, it had crumbled to dust.” ( Hesse 17) However, he always finds “himself awakened once more…in the cycle of existence.” (Hesse 17) Ultimately, he comes to the conclusion that he had approached life in the wrong way: stripping his Self in search for something greater when he should have been embracing who he is. As a class, we can still use this means of sympathetic imagination as a way to evoke compassion for beings who endured suffering.

Siddhartha…the Movie!

Published in: on March 2, 2010 at 3:36 am  Leave a Comment  

Eastern Religion

Ahimsa

Ahimsa for Ecology

I find the trait of Ahimsa an extremely careful effort to avoid the “cruel Pasu-Svabhava (bestial nature) in man.” (Anthology 235) It’s an idea that is rarely practiced in western tradition. While Christians and Jews promote good relationships between man and his neighbor, they do not include guidelines on the treatment of other creatures. In Jainism, Ahimsa is more than just a trait; “Ahimsa is a great spiritual force.” It is an “entire abstinence from causing any pain or harm whatsoever to any living creature.” (Anthology 235)  According to Jainism, Ahimsa does more than save creatures from suffering. There is great personal benefit too, as “Ahimsa will make you fearless.” (Anthology 237)

Jainism

The Jain Monks have and continue to work for animal rights under

The simplistic lifestyle of the Jain monk

the ideal of Ahimsa. “The famous farmans, or special animal protection laws, of those emperors are still before us and testify to the dynamic character of the principle of non-violence advocated by the Jains.” (Anthology 244) Another impressive thing about Jainism is its promotion of openness and tolerance. Unlike many Western religions where religious groups believe it is their duty to spread their beliefs, followers of Jainism “practice onattachment to views. Remain open to receive others’ viewpoints. Do not force others to adopt [their views].” (Anthology 245) In this sense, Jainism understands how compassion can transcend denominational boundaries.

Hindu Scripture

Krishna

Through the readings, I learned that the cow is sacred in Hindu belief for a multitude of reasons. Primarily, “cows are the mothers of all creatures.” (Anthology 242) With a a goddess status amongst the Hindu people the cow “descended from the spiritual worlds and manifested herself in the heavenly spheres from the aroma of celestial nectar for the benefit of all created beings.” While it may seem odd to some, I understand the belief behind the practice. The cow is a mortal derivation from the greater energy force of the “supreme Lord Krishna” (Anthology 242)

Krishna and the "holy cow"

Media Sources:

terapanthonline.com

lazydesis.com

lifepositive.com

Published in: on February 25, 2010 at 5:02 am  Leave a Comment  

Christian Compassion

There is an overall tone change when one begins to read the new testament as opposed to the old testament. The new testament, especially the gospels, have a message of charity, service, and love. While the old testament do encourage compassion, many of the books have a severe and foreboding style of writing. The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the gospel of the New Testament, contain several verses promoting compassion amongst each other.

Compassion for the Poor and Hungry

We see them everyday: Drag Rats. The affectionate term is kind of conducive to the treatment they are often given. In most cases, homeless people in urban areas are ignored. Aid is rarely provided based off of suspicious assumptions. Jesus asks of his disciples to “sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shall have treasure in heaven: come, follow me.”(Anthology 131) Luke 18:25 more directly states, “it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Anthology 132) Although a literal interpretation of the bible may point to the evil of any materialism in the form of wealth, most Christians see fiscal charity as a good way to show compassion and appreciation for God-granted material blessings.

Compassion for your Enemies

This is a tough one. It seems like a paradox for most people. How are we to love, let alone stand, the few people that rub us the wrong way? According to the Gospel of Luke, it is best to “love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” (Anthology 129) Consider the crucifixion of Jesus Christ himself. Jesus shows compassion for his “enemies” by forgiving all those who took direct part in his own death.

Charity

Faith, hope, and charity: the three great virtues of the New testament as outlined by Corinthians 13:13. Furthermore, Charity is “but the greatest of these in charity” (Anthology 133) Personally, I believe that the Christian faith puts a lot of stress of charity because it is almost a human embodiment of God’s divine treatment of mankind. In other words, because God so loved man that he was willing to give him free will, love, and relinquishment from original sin, it was our duty to “be” God to others and serve them accordingly.

As a whole, Christianity shows definite compassion for those poor in spirit, the hungry, the imprisoned, and others in unfortunate circumstances. There is an underlying push for Christians to aid all people; the evidence can be seen in the thousands volunteering in Haiti, China, India, and other areas both near and far. Compassion for those need is fortunately a quality that reaches far beyond the religious boundaries of single denominations. By listening to our individual consciousness and our desire to help others, we can bring good to this world through a united sense of compassion.

Media Sources:

jakecollier.wordpress.com

guitey.info

Published in: on February 23, 2010 at 2:49 am  Leave a Comment  

Nature and Religion

I admit, I might be a little biased. However, I see several problems that can arise from picking and choosing quotes from religious texts and applying them to the beliefs of the complex religious faiths they come from. Consider the Jewish bible. If I was to take the word of the bible literally and pull out each word as sacred by itself then I could make a boatload of ridiculous conclusions from the book of Leviticus. Leviticus condones the practice of slavery, sexism, and animal cruelty, but I know for a fact that the Jewish belief doesn’t. In these excerpts from genesis, man is meant to be “the terror and the dread of all the wild beasts and all the birds of heaven.” The text also states that “every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you.” (Anthology 117B) Again, it is important not to take the texts literally; dread is not meant to be a justification for unnecessary cruelty. Just because genesis talks lowly of animals -“accursed beyond all cattle, all wild beasts” (Anthology 117A)- it doesn’t mean the Jewish faith sees wretchedness in all animals. Similar to the Catholic faith, non-orthodox judaism calls for a holistic non-literal interpretation of the bible.

There is also the need to define the dominion that both the Christian and Jewish bible describe. The readings imply that dominion doesn’t leave room for compassion or respect. I would not argue that the Christian and Jewish faiths don’t encourage mankind to respect nature. Both religions do, however, make a point of separating God’s creatures from God himself. Even today, monotheistic religious leaders warn against nature worship as if “mother nature” was a divinity herself. At the same time, most major religions understand the importance of the environment and the living creatures that inhabit it. A man who owns a pet can establish his leadership over the dog and still care for it. Man is meant to respect life on earth, but utilize the nourishment it can provide when needed. The idea of man’s superiority to the rest of nature is also evident in Virgil’s Pollio when he talks of how man , “shall have no fear.” (Anthology 124.)

More importantly, I feel the need to point out the role of man in the Jewish and Christian faiths. Both faiths expect man to worship God by treating his creations, including man, with love and compassion. Yes, both faiths establish mankind’s superiority over the rest of God’s creations, but they do not encourage cruelty and “dread.” These monotheistic faiths call more for a humbling of ourselves as individuals. In Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, each of us as individuals are nothing in comparison to God’s glory. The focus of faith is not on our power over other beings, but in the recognition of how meager we are in the light God.

Media Sources:

ogicalcomplexinfinitive.files.wordpress.com/

Published in: on February 18, 2010 at 5:35 am  Leave a Comment  

The Power of a Story

The End of the Story

An even older bonsai tree. (400 years old)

First I would like to recap the end of the novel. Pi is met by two Japanese transportation ministry officials, Chiba and Okamoto. They drive down from California, and after a tiring trip (ironic because it was nothing compared to Pi’s journey), they offer Pi a cookie and ask him to recall everything that happened after the crash of the Tsimtsum. After telling Okamoto and Chiba the story, they fail to believe the story based of logical reasoning. They question the sheer logical possibility of everything that happened to Pi. At the same time, Pi is able to fight back Okamoto’s skepticism as he proves that bananas can float and that the impossible is never truly impossible like the existence of bonsai trees, “three-hundred-year-old trees that are two feet tall that you can carry in your arms.” (Life of Pi 295). Finally Pi agrees to tell them a different story. In this story, the zebra is a young chinese sailor, the hyena is a heinous cook, Orange Juice is his mother, and the tiger is a part of his personality. The cook chopped of the leg of the sailor, resorted to cannibalism, beheaded Pi’s mother, and was finally killed by Pi. While the story is not as pleasant, it is more believable to the Japanese Ministers. Ultimately, the question of which story you want to believe is up to the reader.

Why the Truth isn’t Always Most Important
However, I believe that Martel wants us to understand that truth is relative and not the most important thing to take away from the story, or any story for that matter. The story of Pi proves that perspectives and interpretations can drastically alter a single truth. A story has the amazing ability to show us more than one of these perspectives and observe our own reactions to each twist of the same truth. Again, this reminds me of the novel that Emily mentioned in class, “The Things they Carried,” where the author does not reveal an objective truth, but rather explains the importance of “how things are said” rather than “what is said.”

Anthropomorphism
Martel also uses anthropomorphism in a very different way than most fiction authors. Normally, anthropomorphism presents animals with human characteristics so that, even though the animal is not realistic, we can still understand how their actions parallel our own reactions in reality. In the novel, the metaphorical animals that Pi uses in his original story are not only believable, but portray a much lighter and ironically more “humane” image. Regardless of which story you believe is true, the unique use of anthropomorphism forms a readily believable alternate story that at the same time, blurs the distinctions between man and animal. His story is impressive either way as he “survived so long at sea…in the company of an adult Bengal tiger.”(Life of Pi 319) Whether it is his courage or his companion the story remains amazing…

Parallels Between Stories and Religion

Pi's personal religions

Furthermore, the stories tie into the joys of religion. At first, I couldn’t really see the connection, but once you understand the main point of Pi’s different accounts, it is easier to understand the connection to religion. Both religion and storytelling allow us to deal with the moral wretchedness we witness everyday in ourselves and in others. The view seems a little dark, but it makes sense. There is a part in all of us that preferred the first story, our undeclared willingness to be “addicted to indulgence in superficial emotion.”(Definition of Sentimental) Our own desire to be in “opposition with reason” (Definition of Sentimental) is made obvious when we are asked to consider the grotesque alternate-yet more believable- reality that Pi give to the minister.

Pi talks about why religion makes for a better “story”:

Published in: on February 11, 2010 at 5:25 am  Leave a Comment  

Changes in Pi

Pi and his accompanying animals

At the beginning of Pi’s journey, he finds himself struggling to handle the harsh conditions he is thrown into after the shipwreck. Particularly, the deaths of the animals that share the life boat with him forces Pi to adjust. For example, Pi hears the hyena “snarling and the zebra barking and squealing, and he heard a repeated knocking sound. He shook with fright and… relieved himself in his pants.” (Life of Pi 127) Perhaps the event with the largest emotional toll was the death of Orange Juice to the hyena. During the first couple of days out on sea, Pi grows emotionally close to the orangutan and her human-like characteristics. When the hyena decapitates Orange Juice, Pi almost resorts to “throwing himself upon the hyena.” (Life of Pi 132) His fear and grief worsen the longer he is out at sea.

One of the more obvious indications of Pi’s personal transformation is his change in diet. Although a proclaimed vegetarian, Pi finds sustenance from fish, eyes, brains, and even blood. He describes “the blood that tempted [him], the ‘good, nutritious, salt-free drink’ promised by the survival manual.” (Life of Pi 200) We see internal conflict in Pi as he hesitates before killing a fish for food. However, his hesitation turns into excitement as he tells himself, ” What a catch! What a catch!” He recognizes that “the fish was fat and fleshy
. It would feed a horde. Its eyes and spine would irrigate a desert.” (Life of Pi 221) While Pi obviously exaggerates, the will to live far outweighs his moral obligations to not eat meat.
Pi also makes uses of habits to keep sane. He works to keep his religious practices, cleans up after Richard Parker, and works to maintain the essentials like food and water. However, the annoyance of spending each day the same way also produces a kind of monotony.

While Pi is no doubt a kindhearted religious individual, the extenuating circumstances the shipwreck places him in cause character changes throughout the second part of the novel. While Pi’s logical and emotional senses are well intact, he must make important personal choices that cause him a lot of distress. Specifically, we see the survival instinct that normally rests quiet within us roar like a lion as Pi does everything he can to ward of death. The distinction between Pi and the animals becomes more blurry as Pi’s humanity slowly degrades.

Published in: on February 9, 2010 at 4:14 am  Leave a Comment