The Truth of the Novel Life of Pi, The Crucible, and Young Goodman Brown

Just like the famous circus performers, the truths within the novels The Crucible, “Young Goodman Brown,” and Life of Pi bend like contortionists. They get twisted around into unidentifiable shapes that seem amazing at first, but eventually cause the audience to become uncomfortable, making them not want to be in that situation any longer. Bending the truth means stretching to extreme lengths to find a way to twist around the terrible sincerity of the situation, then causing hurt among many, many people.

In Life of Pi, the main character, Pi, has to fold his truth into small squares just to be able to escape his dreaded fate. Throughout this novel, two different sides to a story are shown, both coming from the same person. Because of the two-sided answers that Pi tells, the stories become extremely unreliable and makes the whole book questionable. Leaving this book, the feeling of being lied to and the sickening feeling of frustration cling to the readers like how leeches cling to their prey. All sense of understanding flies out the window because of the two different stories now becoming relevant. The feeling of defeat overtakes the readers because of two heart wrenching stories the audience now has to deal with, even though the first story was enough to handle. With this in mind, the two men who interviewed Pi have the same feelings of confusion and loss as those entrapped reading the pages of Life of Pi, “Mr. Patel, we don’t believe your story. We would like to know what really happened…I know what you want. You want a story that won’t surprise you. You want a story without animals. Here’s another story” (Martel 292, 302, 303). The readers then never figure out what the true story is thus leaving an empty hole in the void that was thought to be filled.

Compared to the rest of these stories, historical books are the truth within the tragedies. The Crucible is a books that lets the reader know the absolute truth while the characters trapped within the letters on the pages only know of what was written in their legacies. In this historical tragedy, Abigail Williams is the puppet master of the lies conjured within Salem, “She swears now that she [Mary Warren] never saw Satan; nor any spirit, vague or clear, that Satan may have send to hurt her. And she [Mary Warren] declares her friends are lying now. I believe [Abigail] means to murder” (Miller 99, 104). Abigail continues spinning a web of lies to protect herself from the noose while she unaffectedly watches the whole town suffer. Innocent people are executed, friends are now common enemies, and an overwhelming amount of fear is unleashed upon the town. People are willing to stomp upon the truth just to save themselves, even if it means accidentally or even purposefully stepping on the person lying beside the truth.

To lie, one must accept the fact that what they do and say is going to affect many people, sometimes even causing a “snowball” effect in the process. In the short story “Young Goodman Brown,” it tells of a man who purposefully goes into the woods to “write in the Devil’s book.” He has to give up his “Faith” both literally and hypothetically just so that he may enjoy one night of guilty pleasure which the author, Hawthorne, writes in these sentences, “Well, she’s a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night I’ll cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven. With this excellent resolve for the future, Goodman Brown felt himself justified in making more haste on his present evil purpose. Come, devil; for to thee is this world given” (Hawthorne n.p.). To give up everything is a brave act, but can also be cowardly if you are doing it for all the wrong reasons which is what our main character, Goodman Brown, does within his legacy.

Eventually, if you bend something enough, it will snap. Each of these main protagonists or antagonists throughout these books eventually have a break down when they’ve gone too far down the path of lies. Abigail, after getting told “no” leaves her lies where they started and she is never heard of again. Pi, on the other hand, is confined within a story that he uses to cope with the loss of his family, losing himself and his sanity in the meantime. Goodman Brown walked too far down the path that he ending up ruining his relationship with his wife, his religion that he loved dearly, and the ability to trust anyone around him ever again. Each of these people used their lies to escape something, whether it be death, fate, or unhappiness.

All of them had to go against their religion in some way while in the process of their lies. Lying in the Protestant church is considered a sin, so it is ironic when a member of that church who claims to be “God’s thumb” is the one who lies the most. Pi goes against all three of his religions to survive. He even went to the extent of taking away the life of someone who supposedly did him wrong. And as for Young Goodman Brown, he literally goes into the woods to meet with the Devil because of his sin of adultery. They all believed that they were doing something good or right; that they were with their faith when instead, they all were driving their religion into the dirt.

To say the least, each author has their own views on what lying means to them. Yann Martel believes that you can use lying as as a way to cope with all the terrors of the world. Nathaniel Hawthorne believes that lies are only told to do the worst in the world. Lastly, Arthur Miller believes that the reason one must lie is to save themself from something wretched coming at a quick pace. No matter how far something tries to be stretched, bent, or twisted, it will never stay intact the way it was before. With enough force, anything can be broken, including those who are applying the force. Just like Newton’s third law of motion, a force acted upon will exert the same amount of force in return. What comes around goes around, that’s why they call it karma.