The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

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The Old Man and the Sea is novella written by Ernest Hemingway in 1952. It tells the epic journey and struggles of the old fisherman, Santiago, and his younger fishing partner, Manolin. The story goes into detail the day to day life struggles that a fisherman off the coast of Africa endures. The majority of the story focuses on one particular trip out sea. In life, one will go through a number of stages in life. Infancy, Youth , Adulthood, and Old Age are all key stages. As one grows, they mature through these various stages. When one reaches old age, there is often a lot of doubt surrounding their lives. Serenity, and independence are often the two most questioned. These are some questions that Santiago has to ask himself as well.
In the novel The Old Man And The Sea, Ernest Hemingway develops the concept of
man coming to the realization that as he ages, his dependency on others will increase. The use of
metaphor is key in showing how this is indeed true. The Tiburon is also used as a metaphor for
Santiago's life. The boy in the story parallels what Santiago's life once was.
The struggle with the Tiburon represents the struggle that Santiago is having with himself.
The constant struggle makes Santiago realize that he is no longer as young as he thinks he is and
he must rely on the help of others. This is shown when Santiago is battling the Tiburon. news for you fish', he said and shifted the line over the sacks
that covered his shoulders. He was comfortable, but suffering,
although he did not admit to the suffering at all. ‘ I am not
religious...but I will say Ten Hail Marys that I should catch this
fish'... ‘Hail Mary full of Grace the Lord is with thee. Blessed art
thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour
of death, Amen.' Then he added. ‘ Blessed Virgin, pray for the
death of this fish, wonderful as he is.' "
[ Hemingway 64-65]

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This quote shows that the old man is forced to break the rules of sanity and talks to
himself as well as the fish which cannot hear him. The old man thinks to himself that the fish is a "
" God fearing " fish and by saying the Hail Mary, the fish will give in and let himself be caught.
After saying the Hail Mary the Old Man tries to convince himself that his previously hurt hand is
okay, when really it is not.
In another part of the story Santiago admits that he is losing his sanity. "He did not want
to look at the fish. He knew that half of him had been destroyed " [Hemingway 114]. This
shows that Santiago is now relating himself tot he fish. While fighting off the sharks, he thinks to
himself that if he had the use of both his hands along with perfect health, he would have been able
to fight off the sharks.
These quotes show that Santiago is not as young as he thinks he is. This is shown by the
gradual deterioration of his sanity. Santiago must come to the realization that he needs the help
of others.
The Tiburon is also used as a vehicle for Santiago's final days as well. The Tiburon is
used as a metaphor for Santiago's life. The struggle he has with the Tiburon parallels growing up
poor in Cuba. This is shown when Santiago first struggles with the fish. " ‘He can't have gone,'
he said. ‘ Christ knows that he can't have gone. He's making a turn. Maybe he has been hooked
before and he remembers something of it. ' " [Hemingway 42] This shows that Santiago is
depending on the capture of this fish as a means of survival. Santiago knows from experience that
the size of this fish will benefit him a tremendous amount financially. He prays that the fish is not
lost. If the fish is lost that means that Santiago would spend another night poor.
The catching of the Tiburon equals the completion of Santiago's life. As much fight as the
Tiburon had before he allowed Santiago to catch him is the same as Santiago knowing that his
struggle to survive by fishing is over. This is shown when the old man is sleeping.

" He was asleep in a short time and he dreamed of Africa when he
was a boy and the long golden beaches and the white beaches, so
white that they hurt your eyes, and the high capes, and the great
brown mountains. ...He no longer dreamed of women, nor storms,
nor of great occurrences, nor of great fish, nor fights, nor contests
of strength, nor of his wife. He only dreamed of places now and
the lions on the beach. " [Hemingway 24-25]

This shows that he is dreaming the same dreams he had as a boy, which he always wanted
as his ideal life. Soon after the fish is caught, he comes to the realization that his fishing life is
now over.
" Up the road, in his shack, the old man was sleeping on his face
and the boy was watching him. The old man was dreaming about
the lions. " [Hemingway 27]

This shows that when the old man was at peace when he was younger he dreamt of things
that excited him. As his life went on, he was plagued with hardship and poverty. When he finally
catches the fish, he is able to go back to that peaceful state that he once loved as a child.
As much as the Tiburon was a metaphor for Santiago's life, the boy parallels what
Santiago's life once was. Santiago has the boy around in attempt to recapture his youth. This is
shown when they are both talking about Baseball, an interest they both share.

" ‘ Tell me about baseball' the boy asked him. ‘ In the American
League it is the Yankees as I said. ' ‘ They lost today ', the boy told
him. ‘ That means nothing. The great Dimaggio is himself
again.' " [Hemingway 21]

This shows that the old man is trying to rekindle the happiness he had as a child. He is
able to do this because he has gotten the boy interested in Baseball, a sport which is loved by
boys.
The old man realizes that he can no longer live through the boy and he comes to terms
with being old. This is shown when he first asks for the boy's help when he is alone.

" ‘ I wish I had the boy. ' The old man said aloud. ‘ I am being
towed by a fish and I'm the towing bitt. I could make the line fast,
but then he could break it. I must hold him all I can and give him
line when he must have it. Thank God he is traveling and not going
down. ' " [Hemingway 45]

This shows that Santiago has finally come to the realization that he can no longer do
things by himself, rather needs the help of others. This shows that he is now aware that he is no
longer independent.
Throughout numerous parts in the story Santiago is forced to come to the realization that
he must depend on others to help him. Specifically in three major areas he is able to see this. The
struggle with the Tiburon represents the struggle that Santiago is having with himself because he
is forced to admit that he needs help. The Tiburon being a metaphor for his life shows that he can
relate to the fish and understands why he must catch him. The boy paralleling Santiago's youth is
important because this gives Santiago one last chance to be his own person before having to ask
for help. All of these are important in Hemingway's conception that as man ages, his
independence will diminish, as his dependency on others will grow as shown in The Old Man
And The Sea.


"Age does slow Santiago down, but he scoffs. His left hand cramps when he's cutting tuna: "What kind of hand is that? Cramp then if you want..it will do you no good." (p. 58) He even draws strength from his younger days. He recalls an arm-wrestling match that lasted a day and night. He takes a nap, and dreams of lions on an African beach when he is young. It is as if, in old age, Santiago draws spiritual sustenance-and thus, he hopes, physical strength-from images and memories of strength. He is awakened by the marlin leaping out of the water, dragging him down to the bottom of the boat, and circling the boat slowly as Santiago holds the line."
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