The island--Pi noted--was green, very green, and green is the color of Islam; to many Muslims it represents safety and home. Pi even said, “Green is a lovely colour,” on page 323. I didn’t take too much notice to it the first time I read it, but after further review, it should have immediately put up symbolic flags in my mind. It could have been incidental, because what other color would an island be? But if that were the case, Martel wouldn’t have put such an emphasis on its color.
Religions can be supportive during the worst of times; nobody can deny that. For generations, religions have been offering people guidance. So, it’s not surprising that Pi came across the island during his most negative state; we must remember that in chapter 90 (two chapters prior to the carnivorous island), Pi witnessed the death of another lone sole stranded in the pacific ocean, and in chapter 91 he couldn’t stop crying. If Pi had not found the island (religion) or if the island had not found him, he would have surely died.
All religions offer shelter and food to their followers. That’s exactly what the island did for Pi. He ate pounds of algae every day, and occasionally meerkats; he slept in a tree, and for the first time since the start of his endeavor, he felt safe. That is, he felt safe until he discovered the truth.
While I was reading chapter 92, I was regularly asking myself “why are there meerkats on an island made of algae in the middle of the Pacific Ocean?” Well, meerkats are just Martel’s way of saying “loyal followers,” or sheep, if you will, of the island. The meerkats lived by the islands rules; they were happy and innocent and friendly and they abided by everything the island asked of them. In this case, the only rule was to stay off the island during night. That’s why the meerkats climbed up the trees, because the island scolded anything that touched it during night. Pi later discovered teeth wrapped in leave--all that was left of a human. He knew that the island was carnivorous, and would eventually kill him.
As most people are aware, all religions have a down side. In many ways, religions are just designed to control the population. Followers are usually punished for disobeying, sometimes cast away. Pi, however, decided that there’s more to faith than rules.
One night during Pi’s stay on the island, there was a major storm. “I would have trusted staying on it during the worst hurricane,” Pi stated on page 341. “It was an awe inspiring spectacle to sit in a tree and see giant waves charging against the island, seemingly preparing to ride up the ridge and unleash bedlam and chaos--only to see each one melt away as if it had come upon quicksand.” Pi claimed that the island was very Gandhian is this respect. Religions can protect you from a storm in your life; religion is a place anyone can turn when it’s all going wrong, and religion can protect you. It seems like obvious symbolism to me.
The island had no land beneath it. It was not tied down and freely drifted the Pacific Ocean. On hot days, the algae’s weave became tight; on cold days, the opposite occurred. This is to say that the island changed over time, as do religions. Almost no religions have had the same rules for the entire time they have existed. Christianity, for example, has so many different branches that you couldn't count them on two hands; undoubtedly, it's changing over time.
Chapter 92 may seem completely obscure and random as you read it, but Yann Martel had a reason for adding it. The Carnivorous island was tremendously symbolic and important; it represented religion and, in the context of the story, made a great statement. Don't trust your life entirely with a floating island of algae--religion.