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This is God's Cat: On Ethics of Companion Species in Life of Pi

By Tzu Yi Chien

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Abstract

The thesis aims to rethink an ethical relationship between humans and animals that is separated from the anthropocentric stance in the Western philosophical traditions. Reading Yann Martel’s Life of Pi in light of the ethics of companion species in Donna Haraway’s The Companion Manifesto and When Species Meet, I would like to contend that this ethical relationship take shape while it is founded on relationality, instead of the human/animal dichotomy. Acts of respect need to be exerted by human and animal participants when they meet. And in the meeting, they become with each other in the relationship in which their subjectivities are co-constituted by each other. The narrative of Pi living with Richard Parker employs a kind of anthropomorphism endowed with ethics of companion species.
This thesis consists of five chapters. Chapter One is a review of research on criticism of Life of Pi and discussions of human/animal relationships in the Western philosophical framework. Chapter Two aims to elucidate the concepts of companion species in Haraway’s context, including relationality and becoming-with. By examining the details in Pi and Richard Parker’s life on the lifeboat, I argue that they are in a companion-species relationship. Chapter Three focuses on the act of respect, the practice for the companion species to evoke mutual responses. The (im)possible communication between Pi and Richard Parker will be analyzed. Chapter Four reads the two versions of the story of Life of Pi as a juxtaposition of two kinds of animal narratives. Both told from anthropomorphic perspective, the story with the animals is registered with ethics of companion species while the story without animal returns to the traditional anthropocentric interpretation. Finally in Chapter Five, I conclude that animal narrative that is entailed with ethics of companion species enables us to rethink the human/animal relationship by attending to real animals which are physically beside us.

Submitter

Katie Carroll

Date 2016
Pages 103
Publisher National Chengchi University
Department Department of English
Degree Master of Arts
URL http://thesis.lib.nccu.edu.tw/record/#G1015510011
Language Chinese
University National Chengchi University
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Tags
  1. Animal ethics
  2. Animal roles
  3. Animals in culture
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Anthropomorphism
  6. Ethics
  7. Films
  8. Human-animal relationships
  9. Pet ownership
  10. Pets and companion animals
  11. relationality
  12. Respect