Essay, Research Paper: Old Man And The Sea And Santiago

Literature: Ernest Hemingway

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The Old Man and the Sea The Old Man and the Sea is a heroic tale of mans
strength pitted against forces he cannot control. It is a tale about an old
Cuban fisherman and his three-day battle with a giant Marlin. Through the use of
three prominent themes; friendship, bravery, and Christianity; the Old Man and
the Sea strives to teach important life lessons to the reader. The relationship
between the old man and the boy is introduced early in the story. They are
unlikely companions; one is old and the other young, yet they share an
insuperable amount of respect and loyalty for each other. Santiago does not
treat Manolin as a young boy but rather as an equal. Age is not a factor in
their relationship. Manolin does not even act as a young boy; he is mature and
sensitive to Santiago s feelings. He even offers to go against his parent s
wishes and accompany Santiago on his fishing trips. Santiago is viewed as an
outcast in his village because he has not caught any fish for more than
eighty-four days and is therefore unlucky . Nonetheless Manolin is loyal to
Santiago and even when his parents forbid him he wants to help his friend. Their
conversations are comfortable, like that of two friends who have known each
other for their whole lives. When they speak it is usually about baseball or
fishing, the two things they have most in common. Their favorite team is the
Yankees and Santiago never loses faith in them even when the star player, Joe
DiMaggio is injured with a heel spur. In this way Santiago not only teaches
Manolin about fishing but also about important characteristics such as faith. In
the story Santiago s bravery is unsurpassed but it is not until he hooks the
great fish that we truly see his valor and perseverance. Through Santiago s
actions Hemingway teaches the reader about bravery and perseverance in the face
of adversity. He demonstrates that even when all is lost and seems hopeless a
willful heart and faith will overcome anything. Santiago had lost his luckiness
and therefore the respect of his village. Through the description of his cabin
we also suspect that Santiago is a widower. Although Santiago has had many
troubles he perseveres. He has faith in Manolin, in the Yankees, in Joe
DiMaggio, and most importantly in himself. This is perhaps his greatest
attribute because without it he would never have had the strength to persevere
and defeat the giant Marlin. Faith is not the only thing that drives his
perseverance. Santiago also draws upon his past victories for strength. After he
hooked the Marlin he frequently recalled his battle with a native in what he
called the hand game. It was not just an arm wrestling victory for him it was a
reminder of his youthful days. His recollections of this event usually proceeded
a favorite dream of his in which he saw many lions on a peaceful shore. These
lions represented him when he was young and strong and could overcome any
challenge. Although he was an old man and his body was no longer like it used to
be his heart was still great and he eventually defeated the Marlin. Santiago s
perseverance and bravery are further illustrated when he tries to fight off the
sharks. He was a fisherman all his life and therefore he knew that the fate of
his catch was inevitable yet he persisted to fight the sharks. The battle
between him and the sharks was about principles not a mere fish. Santiago was
still a great warrior at heart and warriors fight until the end. One of the
greatest and most obvious symbolisms in the story is Christianity. From the
beginning of the story the reader is shown a unique relationship between
Santiago and Manolin. Their relationship parallels that of Christ and his
disciples. Manolin is Santiago s disciple and Santiago teaches Manolin about
fishing and life. One of the greatest lessons that Santiago gives is that of a
simple faith. Have faith in the Yankees my son. This type of faith reflects the
basic principles of Christianity. Hemingway s description of Santiago further
illustrates Christian symbolism. Hemingway gives a reference to the nail-pierced
hands of Christ by stating that Santiago s hands had deep creased scars.
Hemingway also parallels Santiago s suffering to that of Christ by stating that
he settled K against the wood and took his suffering as it came. Even more
profound is the description of Santiago s response when he saw the sharks, just
a noise such a man might make, involuntarily feeling the nail go through his
hands and into the wood. Further symbolism is shown when Santiago arrives home
and carries the mast across his shoulders as Christ carried the cross to
Calvary. Also, like Christ, Santiago could not bare the weight and collapsed on
the road. When he finally reached his cabin he slept face down on the newspapers
with his arms out straight and the palms of his hands up. Hemingway puts these
themes together in such a way that they do not conflict with each other. He does
allow Christianity to be a more dominant theme than the other but instead makes
it more symbolic than intentional. He does not smother the relationship between
the old man and the young boy but instead separates them for a large part of the
story. Finally, he does not make Santiago s bravery a central them by
highlighting his weaknesses. In the end the old mans perseverance and faith pay
off. He finally gains the respect of the village and succeeds in teaching
Manolin the lessons of faith and bravery.
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