Marlin off the Morrow: A Cuban Letter Written by Ernest Hemingway Essay

Marlin off the Morrow: A Cuban Letter Written by Ernest Hemingway Essay

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“Marlin off the Morrow: A Cuban Letter”, was published in the first issue of Esquire
magazine in 1933, and written by Ernest Hemingway. The essay details the escapades of a Cuban fisherman dragged out to sea by marlin. By the time he was found, sharks had destroyed the man’s great catch.1 This essay is the basis for the story of the main character, Santiago, in Hemingway’s novella, The Old Man and the Sea.1 Published almost twenty years later, in 1952, The Old Man and the Sea is considered a classic American novel. The story is deceivingly simple, involving an unlucky elderly fisherman, Santiago, who hasn't caught a fish in months. However, many aspects of the story tell of a much deeper message which transcends the years. Santiago embodies universal truths about the character traits of men, including perseverance and commitment, faith and humility developed through adversity.
Man is not made for defeat, he is designed to persevere. “A man can be destroyed
but not defeated.” (Hemingway 80) Santiago, an old, scarred fisherman, lives in a hut and fishes in a battered and torn skiff with a sail that was, “patched with flour sacks and, furled, it looked like the flag of permanent defeat.” (Hemingway 3) His terrible circumstances and misfortune made him an object of mockery in the eyes of young fishermen and a man to pity for old fishermen, but Santiago knows that with skill, perseverance and commitment, he will prevail. “The lines went straight down... He kept them straighter than anyone did, so that at each level in the darkness of the stream there would be a bait waiting exactly where he wished it to be for any fish that swam there.” (Hemingway 21-22) Santiago was a skillful fisherman. While Santiago is fighting to lure ...

... middle of paper ...

...mply, “‘They beat me, Manolin ’ He said. ‘They truly beat me.’” (Hemingway 96) Santiago was humbled by his experience against the sea.
Santiago embodies admirable character traits in man which include perseverance
and commitment. His faith clearly follows and reflects that of the author, Ernest Hemingway. His pride was challenged and broken into humility. This simple story of an unlucky fisherman remains a classic today because it provides us with a clearer image of Hemingway’s view of man and our struggle against nature and our own shortcomings. Adversity and failure are only wasted to those who refuse to learn from hard-fought battles whether goals are reached or snatched by defeat.

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