The Old Man and the Sea: Life Struggle to Survive
The novella Old man and the sea by Earnst Hemingway is a very simple story about an old man and his life struggle to survive. The author has shown many positive characteristics through the character of Santiago who preservers through the ups and downs of life and yet maintained his self-pride always. Hemingway has chosen Santiago to send this positive message that heroism can be demonstrated in your everyday life and actions through perseverance and endurance against all adversary.
Santiago is an excellent example of one who has the qualities of pride and heroism, two thematic concepts which Hemingway has used throughout the novella.
Heroism can be demonstrated by persevering despite adversity and suffering. Santiago fulfills the traits of a hero in this novella because has attributes honor, courage, endurance in adversity and suffering. Santiago has been a hero since the beginning of the story and did not give up until end. Santiago is described as someone who might look defeated physical, but eyes are still undefeated. Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated. Santiago once suffered through a long and painful arm-wrestling match that required all his concentration, motivation, and physical strength, but through his perseverance, he won the match, proving his heroism. [A]t daylight when the bettors were asking that it be called a draw and the referee was shaking his head, [Santiago] had unleashed his effort and forced the hand of the negro down and down until it rested on the wood (26). He has not caught a single fish in eighty-four days and yet he goes out in the sea with the hope to catch a fish without any complains. Instead he compares himself to his favorite baseball player Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees who had a painful bone during his ball game. But I must have the confidence and I must be worthy of the great DiMaggio who does all things perfectly even with the pain of the bone spur in his heel. On the eighty fifth day also, Santiago has not lost hope. He is hopeful that he will catch a big fish/ With that hope, he goes deep into the sea to catch fish. With his experience he follows the seabirds. Santiago has immense courage as he fights to bring down a really big fish. He fights with the fish for hours and goes through physical pain but does not give in. My hand is only cut a little and the cramp is gone from the other. My legs are all alright. Also, now I have gained on him the question of sustenance.
Santiago struggles for hours. He perseveres. He tells the fish I will stay with you until I am dead. He was able to capture the fish and tie it to the boat. But he soon realized that his misfortune is not over because the sharks will try to feed on this fish. He will have to save his catch from the other predators in the sea. Unfortunately, when he nears the land, he has already lost all the meat on his catch. He still proves to the other fishermen that he did not have another day without a catch. Most importantly, he never gave up he fought till the end. First, he fought Marlin to control him and then valiantly fought the sharks who were attacking Marlin despite his
Pride has always been malignant to humankind. In this novella, Santiago has shown many instances of human pride and humility. Santiago proved that his fishermen instincts were still alive even though he has been down with his luck for such a long time. Santiago’s pride is one of the most important attributes that makes him reach his greatness. He is ridiculed by the other fishermen about his unsuccessful days without a catch, but he does not let that bother him. They sat on the Terrace and many other fishermen made fun of the old man and he was not angry
Manolin wants to help Santiago and offered him four fresh sardines for his bait but Santiago refuses. But then later he accepts two of the sardines. He is humble enough to accept half of what Manolin offered making a balance between pride and humility. Further on, we see that Santiago claims that he has dinner, yellow rice and fish when Manolin asks him but then accepts the food that the boy offered. Manolin later offers to sail with him on the boat but Santiago refuses to take his help because of his pride. He knows that Manolin’s parents don’t like him helping Santiago. Santiago does not want to hurt his pride by showing his need even though he knows he can use his help. He was too simple to wonder when he had attained humility. But he knew he had attained it and he knew it was not disgraceful and it carried no loss of true pride.
Manolin encourages Santiago by telling him that There are many good fishermen and some great ones. But there is only you. Manolin knows that even though Santiago has been unfortunate, he is very skilled at what he does. He has many years of experience and has just been down with luck.
Pride has motivated Santiago to continue his journey back to the land after the marlin has been eaten by the sharks, as he still possesses pride even after having been beaten, thus keeping him alive to reach the land. …[h]e knew where he was now and it was nothing to get home (45). Despite losing the meat of the marlin to the sharks, Santiago’s pride is not affected, as he himself knows that he truly did catch the marlin, and such pride is enough for him to continue home.
You did not kill the fish only to keep alive and to sell for food, he thought. You killed him for pride and because you are a fisherman. You loved him when he was alive and you loved him after. If you love him, it is not a sin to kill him. Or is it more? After capturing the fish and bringing it towards to the shore, Santiago is not able to save the fish. With great bravery and effort, Santiago is able to defeat Marlin but could not protect it from other sharks. By the time he reaches the land, there is no meat left on Marlin. Santiago tries to make sense of everything. He thinks if this was all worth it. He feels apologetic for Marlin. He thinks that he did not hunt Marlin for food or his livelihood, but he hunted him to protect his pride of a fisherman. At the end, his situation did not improve but his pride is restored.
Ernest Hemingway has underscored the above mentioned two themes- heroism and pride in various incidents throughout the novella. Santiago is a true hero because he feels pride in working tirelessly through the adversaries of life, symbolized by sea. Even after constant failure, Santiago is very proud of his profession. Enduring through the hardships, Santiago’s pride is hurt by others and protected by Manolin. Santiago’s fight with Marlin challenges his physical ability and pride. Even though Santiago is able to control Marlin, he could not save it from the other predators. By the time Santiago reaches the shore, there is nothing left on the Marlin that Santiago could use to sell but probably he satisfied his pride and proved everyone that he still can fish.
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