This page is for HIGH SCHOOL students to explore topics for their literary analysis paper. Please do not delete others' ideas; if you disagree, or what to use their idea, simply state your own after theirs. Thanks!


Topic #1: Pick one motif from the book. How does this motif affect the meaning of the book?
For this, begin listing motifs you see in the book. Then, ask yourself, what the reoccurrence shows? In Martel's use of the object again and again, what does it reveal?

Topic #2: Provide an existentialist reading of Life of Pi. How can we use this philosophy to better understand the text?
Think about our discussions, the songs we analyzed, the koans we discussed. First, make a list of existentialist observations. Then, ask what do these absurditities, these bleak outlooks, these defining moments for Pi, reveal to us?

Topic #3: Compare Life of Pi to Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. How can we use Beckett's play to understand Martel's text?
For this, you will need to check out a book so that you can read this short and amusing (often described as strange and disturbing) play. You also could watch the movie. First, write down similarities, things you observed that have the same thinking involved.

Topic #4: Pick one of the major symbols in the book and interpret it. Explain how your interpretation of the symbol changes or affects the meaning of the book.
Like the motif topic, think about a symbol, and object that is representing something else, that seems to have an important influence on Pi, on the story, on our understanding of the text. List possible symbols, first. Then, decide what this symbol changes or affects the meaning of the text.

Topic #5: Compare Life of Pi to the mythological hero's journey. Is Pi a hero by the novel's completion? How is this comparison important to understanding the meaning of the story? Use your knowledge of the journey archetype to make your decision.
First, go through each stage of the hero and list possible events that Pi goes through and how you see it representing that stage. Then, as you look at the final stage, make an assertion whether Pi made it to the fourth stage.

Topic #6: Compare Life of Pi to Beowulf, an archetypal hero. Using your understanding of Beowulf as a quintessential hero, make an assertion whether Pi is a hero, discussing both.
First, check out the story from me; I will photocopy the pages from the textbook, so you can read the translated version. It is a fantastical tale of a hero full of brawn and pride. After reading Beowulf, start making comparisons between Beowulf and Pi deciding if Pi fits the archetypal hero.

Topic #7: Trace religion through Martel's text. What is Martel trying to say about religion and its purpose? You may focus on one religion or follow all three.
Looking at Pi's study of religion, start listing what he studies, what he gains, what he notices about it, what he likes about it, and lastly why he studies it. Then, you will be able to analyze his connection to religion and apply it to the story.

Topic #8: Argue for each of the animals as a manifestation of Pi's psyche. What part of his psyche/personality is represented in the zebra? The orangutan? The hyena? And, most importantly, in the tiger? Consider what befalls each and by what means. Through the understanding, what does it then, allow us to understand about Pi?
List your ideas on what you think each animal represents. Eric F. has already started this under the Existentialist tab. You might want to copy and paste his ideas here. Do you agree/disagree? Have a slightly different understanding? Then, after you feel you have exhausted yor understanding of psychology and these animals, try to discern what the connection is to Pi and how it affects the understanding of the story.

Topic #9: What is Martel saying about what humans need to survive? Use Maslow's hierarchy of needs as well as your knowledge of the text to reveal Martel's commentary.
Looking back at our notes on Maslow's hierarchy, list the stages and how Pi lets go of certain needs to focus on others. Lastly you will look at the overall stages Pi went through to make an assumption about what Martel is saying about human needs.

Topic #10: Argue for this story as a mental and spiritual journey rather than a physical one. In this journey, what does he seek?
Start with a list of events that you feel are part of that mental and spiritual journey. Then, think about what Pi seeks with each journey. Once you have these lists, apply these to make an assertion about this story as one that takes place not on the ocean, but in his mind.

Topic #11: Which story do you believe? Why? If we understand Pi's passengers as humans, how does this story change?
Pi challenges his interviewers to pick the story they like better. We know what they pick. Decide for yourself which one you like and why. What will be difficult about this prompt is certainly not the discussion as it is dependent on your own ideas, but rather, finding the proof to show why this makes it a better story.

Topic #12: A close-reading is a type of analysis in which the writer uses a single passage to discuss the text as a whole. Choose a passage of no more than one page. Carefully dissect this passage, using this passage to reveal the meaning of the text as a whole.
What is interesting to think about is a comment Martel himself said in an interview, that Chapters 21-22 are crucial to the understanding of the text. Go back to these pages and you will notice that they are not obvious in their poignancy. This might be a great place to use for a close reading. Certainly, you can choose your own selection. List your ideas and what you understand about it, as it relates to the whole text.

Topic #13: Additional ideas? Make sure to get these approved prior to writing your essay.
I have already visited with one student about using a movie to make a connection with existentialism and Life of Pi. I am not so worried about the beginning idea, although I certainly want you to run the idea by me. What I do want you to discuss with me, is the formulation of an argument. This will be so important as you work through your topic.