Adulthood and Aging: The Life of Pi

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel presents a story of interesting childhood of Piscine Molitor Patel also known as Pi. The book focuses on several aspects of Pi’s life. For example, the book details various features of aging and how life changes for a person as they age and get affected by various events in their lives. Pi tells the story of his life through the alterations connected with the journey in which he is shipwrecked. In the life story, Pi’s living with the animals is symbolic. Much symbolism is involved in the book to show how a person’s life can be changed by various events which are likely to influence events as a person shifts from childhood to adulthood. This age transition and the process of aging make an important contribution to a person’s life. However, the person keeps aging changes with challenges coming into their lives, which affects the person’s world view.


Pi is the child who grows and explores life at his very best. In Pi’s life, he has three religions that he gets devoted to. His original Hindu religion is inherited from his Indian parents who taught him the doctrines of both Christianity and Islam. He starts to follow these religions, and this is something that many people do not accept. Only his parents interpret this choice as the fact that he excessively loves only god (Martel, 2001). In this sense, Pi is a person of great moral standing. He is religious and wants to know how different religions view God. Similarly, Pi is a person of great integrity who listens to what his father tells him to ensure that he does not do things the wrong way.

Symbolically, the shipwreck is the part of human life because when people age they meet a number of challenges which they must address. In Pi’s life, there is Parker, the tiger, with whom Pi is stuck for a long time and with whom he has to survive. At the beginning, he is scared that the tiger may eat him, and therefore he has to develop strategies to survive in the life boat. The animals in the life boat are symbols of youthfulness. Pi is in the company of the Hyena, which eats the zebra and the orangutan (Martel, 2001). The Hyena represents the group of young men who are too concentrated on enjoying life and do not care about the future, not knowing that if they do not take care of themselves, they may die. The Hyena is an illustration of the euphoria desired by young adults who finally become addicted to drugs and have what they call fun to the extent that this amusement begins to destroy them at their youth.

The tiger represents youthfulness or the age limit of young adults where there are so many storms as they enter adulthood. Pi, being a responsible person, does not make the mistake typical for other young adults represented by the Hyena. He treats his adult life with care and embraces it with decorum to the extent that he does not make any mistakes that can cost him his life. He shows wisdom in every step. For example, when he reaches the Carnivorous Island, he realizes that this is a dangerous place that can easily consume him, and therefore he runs back to the ocean. The oceans here are viewed as the adulthood life which has so many responsibilities (Martel, 2001). The island represents a bar or a place where there are many women who can lead a person into death through sexual transmitted diseases just like the Hyena who kept eating anything infected.

After a long time at sea, Pi manages to reach the shore where his friend, the tiger, runs into the jungle without saying good bye. In this case, symbolism is used to show that young and adult life fades away very fast and old age approaches quickly. The Japanese who are trying to discover what happened in the shipwreck are Pi’s children or grandchildren whom he narrates the story of his life as he ages and becomes older.

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Human Virtues and Strengths

In the daily events, the people’s deeds become part of their lives. In his youthful age, Pi gets used to doing this in a particular way. Thus, at the moment anything goes wrong, he is able to tell exactly what is happening and changes his course of actions in the right direction. When one reaches adulthood, there are responsibilities that one has to bear and these duties are what keeps people in line. The daily life of an adult obliges a person to have a clear conscience and relate with the things that constitute their virtues. One aspect of life that has often made it easy for many people to stand the most difficult test of their lives is the support they get from the people closest to them. Support is also provided by the most important group of people who can make an individual strong in the middle of a storm that is the family. When people age and face challenges in life, the family is the single part of the society that can not betray. Therefore, when the worst things happen, the family becomes a refuge to the people who might be affected by some unpleasant factors in life. Pi’s family is the ocean, and this is why when the he realizes that the carnivorous island can consume him, he runs back to his family which is the ocean.

Sources of Psychological Wellbeing and Overall Life Satisfaction

Psychological wellbeing comes from the ability to have a clear conscience and doing the right thing in life. This notion means that as people get much older, the consequences of their past actions can always influence them any time and affect their conscience to the extent that they become unable to have good mental health. In the youthful ages, for example, people tend to do things without thinking rationally; and such acts, if not properly handled, can ruin their lives. The Hyena died early since it could not control its appetite, which is the comparison to Pi’s quick retreat to the ocean after sensing danger in the Forest (Martel, 2001). On this basis, good deeds and rational thinking when doing various things are the first steps towards having proper psychological wellbeing, especially as people age. One’s actions can always be used to shape or destroy the person at any point of their lives. Everything that a person does not only causes effects on him or her but also has implications on other members of the society who are close to him or her.

In this regard, the overall wellbeing of a person is dependent on the daily actions that affect his or her life and the kinds of decisions one makes. In the event of people’s doing things that are considered unacceptable to the society, members of the community are unlikely to support such individuals. Thus, such cases lead to a situation where people are likely to face rejection, which can affect person’s overall wellbeing

Human Qualities


Wisdom is one of the attributes normally attached to aging in many societies. The belief is that as a person ages, he or she begins to have a more rational way of thinking. This ability makes it possible for them to help in making decisions and giving advice that are expected to move the society forward. Wisdom as a quality that elders possess puts them at a position within the society where people look at them with respect. Moreover, everybody can consult them and engage elderly in important matters, thus making them feel useful and relevant to the society even as they get much older. In relation to this issue, I believe that people who do not take care of themselves with wisdom, as adult members of the society, are seen as jokers who cannot be trusted as they are seen to be irrational. As is it commonly said, the longer one lives, the wiser they become. Old people are normally considered the wisest people in the society and thus must be treated with respect, which is a source of resilience and strength to them. Pi knows that as he ages, he has to set proper examples to the society and in this regard makes decisions that help him survive the storm of life longer than expected.


Curiosity as a personal quality is important to adults as it entails gaining the interest in how people do things and live their lives as well as other events in the society. Pi goes to the Carnivorous Island out of curiosity and learns there hard lessons that make him a more careful person in life (Martel, 2001). In this regard, for adults as they become older, exploring how the society works, including understanding various changes in the human society, makes adults and elders more relevant in the society. Elder members of the society are able to provide a proper direction to all the people who might be affected by various issues from an informed perspective and thus get the kind of support they need which contributes to their resilience.

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Difficulties from Lack of Qualities

Lack of these important qualities are likely to push the adults in the situations whereby they make decision that people do not consider good. Such situation can make them encounter rejection and suffer neglect since some of the members of the society are likely to consider them as useless members who do not make any significant contributions to the society. The portrayal of courage, wisdom, and curiosity about what happens around an aging person is important if they have to live a long and fruitful life where they command respect.

Personal View on Aging and Adulthood

My view and feelings on aging and adults is affected by the book based on the fact that the book raises various issues and especially challenges that people go through their midlife ages to the advanced ages. As people keep aging, it is obvious that they face various challenges which they must be able to counter with good decisions. In this regard, my view is that adults need proper social care so that they age gracefully and impart knowledge for young people who are yet to go through the difficult journey of life.

The book has also made it clear to me that as people age, there is enormous amount of responsibilities that they shoulder and that the decisions they make have serious consequences. There are many expectations on adults, some of which are not sensitive to the needs of these older people. In this sense, I empathize with the older people as too much is expected from them, and they need the best support they can get to live comfortably.


Transitioning from youth to adulthood requires conscience and proper self-respect so that one is able to make decisions that can allow him or her to have the future. For example, Pi makes the decisions, which help him survive longer; and in the process of maturing, a person receives more responsibility.The enormous responsibility of providing direction comes with the serious challenges of people being unable to provide proper support to the adults including incidences of neglect and lack respect for elders as well as temptations. The elders must face all these changes and treatment with much flexibility and understanding.

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