Better Stories

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Have you read (and/or seen the Ang Lee film based on) The Life of Pi by Yann Martel? While the film version’s treatment of the dual story-line ending presents the final twist, the novel version goes into greater depth and is more layered so as to highlight the meaning behind the message. This dual-story ending exposes differences in the psychological construction and interpretation of reality itself.

Since character drives fictional outcomes–again with thanks to Rebekah’s writerly Guest Blog last week–but perhaps also since the reader’s own character drives their perceptions of these outcomes, I prefer the version of Pi’s story–about how he survived the sinking of an ocean liner–wherein Pi must cope with a fierce Bengal tiger and benefits from divine intervention whenever he surrenders to and accepts his human limitations and his mortality. I love the scene where Pi throws up his arms in utter despair, awaiting his immanent death, and thanks God and the vast expanse of the universe itself for all the experience he has been privileged to endure in this earthly life, only to be answered with a school of flying fish dropping sustenance onto the raft he shares by that point only with Richard Parker, the tiger. By my readerly view, it is a more pragmatic, less believing sort who prefers that Pi’s tale of surviving with animals is but a metaphorical account of a more gruesome expression of human animality. Is Pi compensating with his ‘better story’ through psychological denial of his observations of the brutal murder of his mother by the Cook? Is his very faith a coping device for self-delusion about the atrocities he witnessed?

Which Life of Pi story version do you prefer, and more importantly, why?  If you haven’t read the book, go watch the movie (or, read; it is beautiful writing!), and journal, talk about or contemplate your own response to the ideas and emotions represented. How does this story relate to your personal narrative?

I invite you to send in your Comments or submit your personal story about ‘fictional endings’ this week. Imagine a Better Ending, or a better story about ‘what really happened’ from one of the characters’ viewpoints or from your own retelling of the story according to your own life experiences.

Also for a Guest Blog this week, please answer and send in your answer of ANY LENGTH or format to the question: What is an example of a Better Ending from your own life?

 

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