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The monomyth, presented by Joseph Campbell, states three basic ideas that represent the hero’s journey and what they go through. In the book, “Life of Pi”, written by Yann Martel, the main character Pi, closely relates himself to the sequence of the monomyth by showing Separation, Initiation, and Return throughout the novel. This book is about a boy who learns how to survive on a boat with a Bengal tiger, named Richard Parker. In the book “Life of Pi”, Pi faces Separation, Initiation, and Return.

First, Pi faces Separation in the novel by having to leave his home country India, to go to Canada, a place that he has never seen. Pi moving to Canada is a huge step because he is so comfortable in where he lives and being put somewhere else can be a big challenge. In addition, a quote describes Pi’s thoughts, as to what he thinks of when he finds out he is moving. He says, “It was announced to us one evening during dinner. Ravi and I were thunderstruck. Canada! If Andhra Pradesh, just north of us, was alien, if Sri Lanka, a monkey’s hop across a strait, was the dark side of the moon, imagine what Canada was.”(Martel, 79) This quote shows Pi comparing what he sees in India, to what Canada may be for him. In other words, there are just so many possibilities for how Canada can turn out for Pi. This shows Pi’s Separation because he is taken away from his homeland and must go to another country to stay safe. Pi has great hopes and therefore, decides to follow through with his dad’s plan.

Pi also faces Separation, when he talks about why people move, and what makes people leave a place in which they have lived for so long. He states, “The answer is the same the world over: people move in the hope of a better life.”(Martel, 77) Pi thinks almost everybody moves in order to get a better life. This may also be Pi’s situation. He wants to move for a better future for himself and believes that it would be a good thing to be taken to a different place. To start over, and to make something for himself. Pi can see this as an opportunity for a healthy future for himself and his family.

Second, Pi encounters Initiation, when the Tsitisum sinks and he must survive alongside the Bengal Tiger, Richard Parker. Together, they face the obstacles that nature throws at them such as weather, marine life, etc. With this in mind, Pi now enters the Initiation segment of the monomyth. A quote said by Pi, when he knew he was trapped for sure and was forced to survive on a boat mentions, “I was alone and orphaned, in the middle of the Pacific, hanging onto an oar, an adult tiger in front of me, sharks beneath me, a storm raging about me.”(Martel, 107) This quote paints the picture of what Pi is currently going through and what he will be forced to deal with for some time. Furthermore, the quote highlights some of the obstacles Pi has to face when being stranded in the Pacific Ocean, with a tiger, sharks, and other dangerous creatures underneath him and storms that will be coming his way later on. He will have to learn how to get over these problems and get used to them in order for Initiation to occur.

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In addition, Pi almost gives up on his journey during Initiation. There are many moments when Pi reconsiders everything and gives up. This quote shows Pi’s inner thoughts as to what has really happened to him over this entire experience. He mentions, “Every single thing I value in life has been destroyed. And am I allowed no explanation? I am to suffer hell, without any account from heaven?”(Martel, 98) As Pi says this, he realizes the situation he has actually been put in. He wants to try and survive through this stage that God has put him through. Again, our hero must get over these thoughts, conquer nature and his fears, and continue on the journey. Everyone has dealt with some hardships, but Pi is facing something no one else should. He has lost his family which can never be replaced. Most importantly, he lost hope in himself which is something he has had since the start of his journey. He does not care anymore about what is to come later on, which in a way is also good since he will take more risks and experiment with the nature around him.

Third, after lasting 227 days at sea, Pi finally finds himself in Mexico. This shows the Return of Pi and is the last portion of the monomyth sequence. He is rescued by some Mexican people and taken to their village. While at the hospital Pi is taken care of after dealing with the harsh treatment of his journey. He thinks about the atmosphere and the service being provided. Pi is very observant because this is one of the first human interactions he experiences after staying at sea by himself for approximately 7 months. He thinks, “The doctors and nurses at the hospital in Mexico were incredibly kind to me. And the patients, too.”(Martel, 6) Pi was at sea for such a long time that many people were happy to see him alive. For this, people came to congratulate him by giving him gifts and clothing. In a way, these are blessings given by God, in the presence of hospital patients, for not losing hope in the end. This is Pi’s Return, as he slowly starts to obtain the basic human skills he once had.

Lastly, Pi marks the end of his journey on the boat. Pi has learned a lot and now is a changed person. However, the effects that have caused Pi to make some in-human decisions are something he can never forget. Pi admits, “Things didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to, but what can you do? You must take life the way it comes at you and make the best of it.”(Martel, 91) Even though this is not towards the end of the book, Pi knows that he must move on from the events and that life can give you hardships. But he must move on from his past. The events show Pi’s return back into the human world. He is rescued, turned back into a proper human being by fixing his way of life that he got by being on a boat, and learns that he needs to move on mentally. The hero is now recovering from his return.

To conclude, in the book “Life of Pi”, Pi faces Separation, Initiation, and Return. These three steps in the monomyth highlight Pi’s journey from a young innocent boy who changed, into a new person. To summarize, Pi faces Separation when he leaves India to go to Canada while talking about why people move and what makes them want to move, which is usually for a better life. Then he encounters Initiation, which consists of his journey on a boat. At this point, our hero almost gives up by losing hope but somehow gets over all the obstacles. After that, Pi has his Return where he is rescued by Mexican people and is congratulated on his survival. Pi also deals with the mental troubles that he suffered from this journey, by realizing that it is life and he must learn how to get over it. All these events are related to the concept of the monomyth, presented by Joseph Campbell in which he describes the three main ideas of a hero’s journey. Pi has dealt with a great amount of stress, sacrifice, and mental trauma that no 16-year-old should ever have to face, but somehow he managed to recover from these events and carry out a normal life.

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