Effects of Social and Physical isolation Isolation is a very popular and explored topic in fiction and non fiction literature It is in fact a very prominent theme in these two stories The Bet and The Life of Pi The Bet is a short story by Anton Chekhov about a banker and a aspiring lawyer who made a bet with each other based on capital punishment and whether the death penalty is worse than life in prison The ambitious lawyer then proceeds to throw away 15 years of his life in confinement to prove a point and also for money Yann Martel s The Life of Pi is the story of a young man who survives seven months after a devaststing shipwreck on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker Though both stories are different they do share similar themes in The life of Pi a young Piscine Molitor struggles with his many spiritual and religious practices In The Bet a young lawyer accepts to go to prison for 15 years as bet to receive 2 million dollars but when he is only minutes away from his prize he leaves a detailed letter explaining that within the 15 years of imprisonment he no longer has the interest for money religion and other things that the majority of people take interest too With this opinion in his head he decides to leave the prison presumably never to be seen again These two stories have a very similar theme or plot line but different outcomes
In The Life of Pi and The Bet the spiritual and religious connection with a form of a higher power is brought into question when physical isolation is shown to allow an individual time to expand their knowledge and form opinions about themselves and or other subjects or entities Both protagonists came out of their isolation with new gained knowledge they illustrated how social and physical isolation can drastically change one s opinions about god religion and their own values and they embodied two different outcomes of a person s perspective once reintegrated back into society The Life of Pi and The Bet both demonstrate that time spent alone is time spent learning The lawyer from The Bet spends fifteen years of his life in confinement with the sole purpose of proving a point with money as an extra incentive Fifteen years later he emerges from isolation with a deep hatred for society religion money and everything that the norm or the majority of people praise and give their attention to mainly because he had spent those 15 years of solitary confinement studying the following is a passage from the short story The Bet In the last two years of his confinement the prisoner read an immense quantity of books quite indiscriminately At one time he was busy with natural sciences then he would ask for Byron or Shakespear There were notes in which he demanded at the same time books on chemistry and a manual of medicine and a novel and some treatise on philosophy or theology The lawyer abandoned luxury and directed his values towards educating himself He left solitary confinement with a lot of knowledge in fact he believes he is so knowledgeable that he doesn t need to be alongside society In the Life of Pi Piscine Molitor is a Hindu a Christian and a Muslim though all of these religions together seem odd to most Pi was very intrigued and passionate about all three
After Pi survived 227 days at sea alone with Richard parker Pi had learned many key aspects about himself one of them being that Richard Parker himself is an extension of his own being Some have argued before that Richard Parker is the violent and aggressive side of Pi the side that is willing to do anything to survive Richard Parker is also the symbolic manifestation of Pi s duality Yes he has a civilized human side but he also has a savage side that surfaces when survival mode kicks in because this savage side is hard to accept or deal with Pi creates his alter ego Richard Parker There are many signs in the book that confirm this theory For example when Pi s father attempts to teach him a lesson about why animals are not friends he says When you look into his eyes you are seeing your own emotions reflected back at you nothing else Ang Lee 2012 This quote is from the 2012 film adaptation of the book directed by Ang Lee that statement is indirectly stating that Richard Parker is Pi s emotions manifested in a physical form Pi learns that Richard parker is himself and that everything that Richard parker had done on that boat has always been the side of pi that will do anything for survival
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