The island in Yann Martel's novel, "The Life of Pi," is meant to symbolize Pi's despair. Piscine Molitor Patel, or Pi, is the story's protagonist and narrator who tells the story of spending 7 months lost at sea as a young boy. Pi expresses a fear that the island would have eaten away at his soul and deadened his spirit if he had remained there.
There is further symbolism and meaning that arises from Pi's time spent on the island. The flesh-eating vegetation represents his growing pessimism and doubt that he will be rescued. Staying on the island would mean he had giving up on ever returning to civilization. He ultimately chooses optimism, returning to the ocean and clinging to the dwindling hope that he will be found.
The entirety of "Life of Pi" is filled with symbolism, ripe for analysis. It touches on a number of themes including the will to live, the importance of storytelling and the nature of religious belief. It explores the motifs of territorial dominance, hunger, thirst and ritual. The color orange is prominent throughout and symbolizes hope and survival. Even Pi's name has significance, establishing him as an allegorical figure with several complex layers of meaning.